One of the most frequent questions we are asked is “Why do I need a lawyer to handle my personal injury case? Can I just handle it myself?”
The answer is more complicated than you might imagine. You can certainly try to negotiate a claim on your own behalf. However, the simple fact is that insurance companies will offer you less money than they would if you had an attorney. Even after paying the attorney’s fee, represented people end up with more money in their pockets than they would have if they negotiated their own case.
Additionally, insurance companies are not accountable to you as the injured party—they are accountable to their shareholders. So an adjuster’s job is to protect the company’s bottom line at all costs. Adjusters are awarded for paying less on claims. When you are unrepresented, you may be victimized by all kinds of insurance company tricks—like delaying negotiation and payment of claims, confusing the facts and legal issues, and even making misrepresentations about the kinds of damages you are entitled to.
There are certain situations where having an attorney on your side is even more important:
When Your Injuries are Serious and/or Permanent:
If your injuries are the kind that will require long-term care or if your injuries leave you with permanent disabilities, you need to hire a personal injury lawyer immediately. An experienced personal injury attorney will understand the laws and facts of your case, and can evaluate the value of all of the damages you are entitled to claim. An insurance company will NEVER tell you all of the damages you can claim, nor will they offer you top dollar. In a serious injury case, you can often claim damages above and beyond the usual medical bills and pain and suffering, such as loss of lifetime earning capacity—but these kinds of damages require expert assistance to calculate. To get the most compensation, you need a lawyer who can pursue your claim with aggressive expertise.
When There is More Than One Person at Fault or Injured:
If you were involved in an accident where multiple parties may be responsible for your damages, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer right away. When multiple parties are involved in an accident, dealing with the insurance companies can be even more complicated and frustrating than usual. If your accident involved more than one injured person, you must be aware that the insurance coverage might not be enough to go around. You need an attorney to protect your interests and to evaluate the available funds in order to maximize your recovery.
When The Insurance Company Refuses to Negotiate Fairly
Sometimes, insurance companies just refuse to negotiate fairly. Insurance adjusters know that after a crash, you may be strapped for cash—especially if you are struggling to replace your vehicle, have to take time off work, or have out of pocket medical bills. This often puts people in a very vulnerable place, where they will take whatever the insurance company offers just to have a little money on hand. If you feel like the insurance company is treating you unfairly, or if negotiations with the insurance company have broken down, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, so that we can help protect your rights.
When Your Collision Involved a Person Under the Influence or On Their Phone
If you suspect that the person who caused the wreck was under the influence of alcohol, medications, a controlled substance, or their cell phone use contributed to the wreck – call an attorney. You may be entitled to special damages in addition to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages. Only and experienced New Mexico attorney knows the state laws and what to do to maximize your case.
No Fee Until We Win
Finally, you should keep in mind that personal injury attorneys are not paid the same as other kinds of attorneys. Criminal defense attorneys charge a retainer and divorce attorneys bill hourly and send you an invoice every month. Personal injury attorneys charge a “contingency fee.” This means that your attorney will get a part of your settlement or jury verdict at the end of your case—usually 1/3 of the total settlement is a standard contingency fee. It doesn’t matter that the attorney spent hundreds of hours working on your individual case—they do not charge you for that time on an hourly basis. Personal injury attorneys do not get paid anything at all unless and until they win your case. There is no risk to you in hiring a personal injury attorney, as these kinds of lawyers take on the risk of your case. This means that if, for some reason, the attorney cannot recover money for you, the attorney just does not get paid. You have nothing to lose by hiring a personal injury lawyer and the potential of huge rewards.
How to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were involved in any of the scenarios discussed above, you should contact a reputable attorney right away. Hiring a personal injury lawyer is a very important decision. Your lawyer will represent your interests in settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company, and will do so in court should you and your attorney decide that filing a personal injury lawsuit is necessary. You should make sure that your attorney is someone you trust and feel comfortable working with. To learn more about how to hire a personal injury lawyer.