Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
A lawyer's primary responsibility should be to help their client. But let's face it, not every attorney understands their client should come first and some are simply not willing to put their client ahead of themselves. In fact, some lawyers just want to make as much money as possible even if their services are not needed.
Of course I too want to make as much money as possible. But I take very seriously my ethical duty to put my client's interests ahead of myself. That's why I think it's important you should know the truth about whether you really need a lawyer. And, the truth is, not every case needs a personal injury attorney. Whether your case needs a personal injury lawyer depends on whether your case has merit, the size of your case, whether you are the type of person that can do what needs to be done to get the best value for your case, and the type of case you have.
Does your case have merit?
I could speak for days just on this topic. And to discuss this topic thoroughly would really require knowing a lot of information about the size of your case and the type of your case. But generally you should know that to have a case someone has to have done something wrong to you and what they did wrong has to have caused you injury or damage. Most people can figure out whether or not someone has done something wrong to them. The harder part is figuring out whether what that person did wrong actually caused injury or damage. If it did not then you really do not have a case. As a result you do not need to hire a personal injury attorney.
How big is your injury case?
Your case will always be large to you. But some cases are bigger than others. In general, in a large case a lawyer should be able to get a better result and put more money in your pocket then if you go it alone. In fact the insurance industry has studied this very issue. In 1999, the Insurance Research Council, a non-profit organization funded by most of the large Insurance companies in the United States, concluded lawyers receive 31/2 times more money for a case than someone without an attorney. Clearly their involvement justifies the fee. On the other hand, in a small case a lawyer might not be necessary. A small case is one where the medical bills are no more than a couple of thousand dollars and injuries are not permanent. In this type of case most of the recovery may go to the lawyer and there may be very little left to compensate you. This is the type of case that a diligent and highly organized person can often settle on their own without the help of an attorney.
Are you highly organized, a good presenter, and a good negotiator?
It takes a lot of time and effort to get the most value for your claim. First you have to gather all the evidence that will prove the other side did something wrong. It is not possible to identify what evidence needs to be gathered in your case without interviewing you in detail. But in general, depending on the size of the case and the type of case, this can include many things like getting accident reports, property damage estimates, photographs of the scene, witness statements, and hiring expert witnesses. Next you have to document your injuries by going to the right doctors, following all their treatment advice, and when all your injuries have been fully diagnosed, gather all your medical records. After all of this happens you will have to get your doctors to write a final report that describes the extent of your injuries, whether your injuries are permanent, the cost of the medical care you have already received, and the cost of the medical care you will need in the future. If you have lost wages in the past or will have lost wages in the future, you will have to document them. You will then have to present in a convincing manner, all of this information to the insurance company or corporation you believe is responsible for causing your injuries and negotiate with them to get top dollar for your case. If this sounds like a fun challenge and you have the time to do all of the above, then you might not need a personal injury attorney.
What type of case do you have?
Some types of cases are much easier to resolve than others. For example, automobile or car accident cases in which it is clear the other side was at fault, there is a lot of damage to the vehicles involved, and the injuries are either not permanent, did not require surgery, or are not catastrophic can often be resolved by a diligent and highly organized person without an attorney. Similarly, falls on someone else's property where it is overwhelmingly clear the property owner was negligent in maintaining their property, the medical bills are small, and the injuries are not permanent can often be resolved without a lawyer.
On the other hand, it is next to impossible to receive adequate compensation without the involvement of a personal injury lawyer in cases involving permanent ongoing injury. It is also very difficult to resolve cases involving nursing homes and ALF's,
medical malpractice, and
defective products without the involvement of a personal injury attorney. There are many reasons that make this true and there is not room here to go into detail about each of these types of cases. What you should know however, is that each of these cases have very specific laws that must be followed to perfect your claim and if you do not follow them you could end up with very little or nothing.