After experiencing a serious accident, it is likely to be the case that you will have some questions, such as what will be involved in the recovery process? How long will it be before I can return back to work? and what happens next?
One of the most common questions that people ask, however, is ‘do I need a personal injury lawyer?’. In most cases, the answer to this important question is yes, and the sooner that you can get one on board the better for the sake of your case. The reason for this is made clear by the following questions.
What is the seriousness of your injuries?
Most injuries are minor and come as a result of either a fall or slip in a grocery store or from a slight fender bender where the worst thing to happen is a scrape or a bruise. Where these happen, most individuals are able to handle them without having to instruct a lawyer to act on their behalf.
That being said there is also the potential for these types of innocuous events to cause more serious outcomes, such as concussion and/or even broken bones. Similarly, they could cause severe damage to the soft tissues around the spine and the neck. Where any of these things happen, you should get in touch with a specialist attorney, such as West Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys, as soon as possible. This is because sustaining injuries like this can potentially leave you with a hefty medical bill, as well as a reduced income through not being able to work because of your injuries.
Any time that you do ever sustain major injuries in some sort of accident, including trauma to the brain or spinal cord, by working with a lawyer you will have the best chance of getting the level of compensation that you not only deserve but require to live post-accident. These types of cases are often very complex and have substantial damage awards are at stake, so of course, insurance companies are very reluctant to payout. By appointing an experienced personal injury lawyer, they will develop a winning strategy to not only pursue the case but also protect your interests at all times.
Did you cause the accident?
As part of any personal injury claim, it needs to be established that it was the third party who in fact caused the accident and thus your injuries. This is where a lawyer can come in helpful as they are able to collect the required evidence and pursue the claim on your behalf. In most accidents, it is typically the case that there are a number of different parties that share some of the liability. A lawyer is able to identify each one of these parties, allowing you to seek the correct level of compensation from each and every one of them.
For instance, where a case of medical malpractice has taken place, there is likely to be grounds for you to file a claim not only against the hospital itself but also against the medic who performed or administered the treatment. Similar to this, in a collision with a truck, you would be able to pursue a claim against not only the driver themselves but also the company that the driver works for.
Have you had contact with the liable party or insurance company?
Lots of victims of accidents do not think twice about speaking with a lawyer until they have first contacted their insurance company. However, you are completely within your rights to get in contact with a lawyer before you contact the liable party of the insurance company. In fact, it is actually true that you are better off allowing your personal injury lawyer to do any and all communicating throughout the entire process. With insurers not wanting to pay out any money, they will likely use the communication with you to either try and get you out of making a claim or try and reach some sort of a compromise instead.
Those people who have already spoken with the representative insurance company may have already been made aware of their need to contact a lawyer to handle their claim for them. This is particularly true if any of the following scenarios present themselves:
- Your claim is denied by the insurance company – it can be a hard thing to take when you hear that the insurance company has or intends to deny your claim. This means that you have to sort out your injuries and recover all by yourself whilst also worrying about how to pay for the bills and cover the lost income. However, a fully qualified personal injury lawyer can pursue your dispute in order to achieve an overall satisfactory outcome for you.
There are a number of different reasons why an insurance company may deny a claim for liability. The main one being that they do not believe that their party was responsible for the incident. In fact, the insurance company may go as far as stating that it was you who was responsible for causing the incident or at least another party whom they are not representing.
A personal injury lawyer will be able to determine exactly who it is that bears responsibility and thus liability for the accident. For instance, in a road traffic accident, this will likely involve speaking with expert witnesses and viewing any available dash cam footage of the accident in order to determine who was at fault.
In addition to this, a lawyer can get themselves access to certain information that would have been much harder for you to get hold of yourself. In the example of having a collision with a commercial truck, a lawyer would be able to get access to the logbook from the truck – showing how long the driver had been at the wheel prior to the crash.
A lawyer would also delve into public records to see if there had been any other vehicle collisions along the same stretch of freeway or even take a look at the vehicle records to see if it was up to date with servicing and maintenance.
In most instances, the investigation not only produces information regarding which party was responsible for causing the accident but it also sometimes finds some other sort of important information that helps to establish if any other additional parties were responsible for contributing to the accident at all. Armed with this information, you are able to pursue a claim against each and every party that is liable.
The insurance may try claiming that the injuries that you sustained as a result of the incident do not cause the same level of limitation that you claim that they do. They are likely to seek clear and undisputed evidence that the limitations that you are experiencing have actually been caused by the incident and did not already exist.
In addition to this, the insurance company will investigate your personal as well, especially if they have some reason to believe that you may be exaggerating or even lying about the true extent of your injuries. As part of this process, they will likely look at any social media accounts that you may have in order to see if you are partaking in any sort of activity that you are claiming that you can no longer do, such as playing sport or even just walking unaided. Some insurances have even been known to take images or posts out of context in order to deny your claim and not payout.
- There is a delay from the insurance company in responding to your claim – the accident has happened some time ago and you still have not heard anything from either the insurance company or the party who is liable for the incident. You may have had a quick initial response from the insurance company, but since then there has been no communication. Because of this, you have no clue on what is happening or what to expect next, never mind when you will actually be paid out for the accident.
It could also be the case that you quickly accepted the settlement amount offered by the insurance company, but the payment has failed to materialize. There are various tactics, such as delaying payments, that insurance companies use, simply because they do not want to hand their money over any sooner than is absolutely necessary – even though it is likely the case that you need those funds to be able to pay for your medical bills which have come as a result of the accident.
A personal injury lawyer will do what they can in order to get a satisfactory response from the insurance company. By instructing a lawyer to act on your behalf will send a message to them that you are serious and that you fully plan on pursuing the case to the very end. A lawyer will also give you the information regarding any penalties that the insurance company could face for not looking into your claim.
- A low settlement offer is issued by the insurance company – it is typically the case that most insurance companies will keep the amount of compensation that they intend to payout to a victim to an absolute minimum, rather than actually sticking to finer details of their policies. This usually begins a short time after the incident has happened. The insurer will make contact with you within the space of just a few days and make some sort of offer for the purpose of settling the case. This is likely to be the absolute minimum that the insurer thinks that they are able to get away with.
This offer is likely to not be enough to cover the full cost of your injuries. What is most important though is that accepting the insurance company’s very first offer, it stops you from going for any extra compensation further down the line, even if your injuries end up costing you more than the compensation received through the cost of treatment and lost income.
Before you accept any settlement amount that is offered to you by an insurance company or from the party who is liable for the accident, you should get in contact with a personal injury lawyer. Most nowadays provide a free consultation service where you will be given a clearer idea of how much you should be expecting by the way of compensation. A lawyer will give you good advice on how to proceed with the claim and to stop you from not getting the funds that you rightly deserve for the severity of your accident.
- There is no cooperation from the insurance company – where you have received a settlement offer already from the insurance company, you may have opted not to get in contact with a lawyer. This is likely to be the case if the amount offered is much less than what you either think you deserved or expected from the incident. The offer was simply rejected by yourself and then a counteroffer was sent. In such instances, it is likely the case that the insurance company continues to respond with low offers that do not reflect the severity of the incident.
In this situation, a personal injury lawyer will do all that they can to ensure that you get the right amount of compensation for the seriousness of your injuries. In the instance where your claim is required to go to court, then a lawyer will represent you. Throughout the entire claim process, the lawyer will keep your needs at the front of their mind and not that of the insurance company. These companies are fully aware that it is easier for them to take advantage of a claimant who is not legally represented. By instructing a lawyer to act for you, it sends a clear message to the insurance company that you mean business and will not just take any offer that comes your way.