How to Know When It’s Time to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’re getting ready to file a civil lawsuit, you’re far from alone. In 2019 alone, 286,289 civil cases were filed. The most common civil filings included personal injury lawsuits.
Personal injury cases can be filed when a person experiences injury or property damage due to the negligence of another person or company. One common type of personal injury case is car accident lawsuits. Other types of cases include slip and falls, nursing home abuse or neglect, and dog bites.
Not every personal injury civil case filing needs a lawyer. While anyone can hire a personal injury lawyer for these cases, some people can settle without them.
So how do you know it’s time to retain a personal injury attorney? Continue reading below to learn common reasons to hire an attorney in these cases, alongside frequently asked questions to help you better understand the process.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
There are many reasons you’d want to hire a personal injury attorney. Below are a few of the most significant reasons.
Problems With Insurance Companies
When dealing with insurance companies, things can go one of two ways. Rarely are claims processed in a timely manner and quickly pay out a reasonable amount for your specific case. More commonly, issues can arise that warrant hiring an attorney to represent you.
A few common problems with insurance companies that would warrant retaining an attorney include:
- An insurance agent is twisting your words around or trying to blame the accident on you
- An insurance company is denying your claim
- An insurance company offers you a settlement amount for significantly less than what they should
- Your claim is stalling at each step of the process or otherwise moving slower than it should
- You can’t get in touch with the insurance agent with questions about claim issues
An attorney can also take some of the stress off dealing with insurance companies generally. They do this by fielding the phone calls and emails that would otherwise interrupt your daily life and schedule.
Medical Malpractice or Nursing Home Neglect Cases
Medical malpractice and nursing home neglect lawsuits will always require an attorney. Why? They’re complicated cases that need to be completed in a timely fashion.
Medical malpractice lawsuits require a high burden of proof. They also have specific statutes of limitations in place that limit how long a person has to file them. If that time has passed, you’re no longer eligible to receive monies for malpractice.
Nursing home neglect cases also carry a high burden of proof. Although difficult to prove, it’s easier when working closely to when the neglect or abuse occurred. After a specific time frame has passed, it can be almost impossible to prove.
For Serious Injuries
Minor to moderate injuries can often be settled without a lawyer if the insurance company offers a reasonable claim upfront. For more severe injuries, however, it’s imperative to work with a personal injury lawyer.
Working with an attorney is critical because serious injuries require higher settlement amounts. These claims are most at risk for being low-balled or potentially denied by insurance companies that don’t want to pay out high-dollar settlements.
When the Other Driver Is Uninsured
In a perfect world, every driver would follow the law strictly, and all motor vehicles on the road would be fully, legally insured. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.
Many people would be surprised to find that more than ten percent of all vehicles on the road aren’t insured. It works out that one of every eight drivers you pass on the street doesn’t have insurance. So what happens when one of these uninsured motorists causes an accident?
It’s still possible to receive monies that cover medical bills and vehicle damages. But the case does become more complicated when involved with uninsured drivers. For this reason, it’s best to hire a personal injury lawyer who fully understands everything that can be done to receive a fair settlement.
Frequently Asked Questions
When dealing with personal injury cases, it’s normal to have questions. Below are answers to a few of the most frequently asked to help you better understand both the case and the process of working with an attorney.
What Kind of Cases Fall Under Personal Injury Law?
A personal injury attorney handles lawsuits where a person or property was injured or damaged because of the negligence of another person or business. A few common cases falling under personal injury law include:
- Car or truck accidents
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and falls (also known as premises liability)
- Defective products (also known as products liability)
- Dog bites
- Playground accidents
- Construction site accidents (also known as third party liability)
This isn’t an all-inclusive list. There may be other cases that fall under personal injury law. If you’re unsure, it’s best to contact a reputable attorney to inquire whether your case meets the required criteria for personal injury.
Why Is My Personal Injury Claim Stalling or Moving Slowly?
Personal injury claims shouldn’t stall or move slowly. Instead, they should move from one phase to the following within a reasonable time frame.
When claims stall, it’s usually at the fault of the insurance company but can, rarely, be your fault. The stalling may be the fault of the insurance agent or company if they’re attempting to deny your claim or aren’t processing things promptly. Stalling may be your fault if you haven’t submitted the required documents in a timely manner.
No matter who is to blame, a personal injury attorney can help move the process along. They can ensure all documents are submitted (and processed) promptly. A lawyer can also assist by pressuring the insurance agent or company to continue moving things forward.
Why Was My Insurance Claim Denied When I’m Not at Fault?
If you’re not at fault for an accident, it can be difficult to tell why your claim was denied. In this scenario, it’s best to hire an attorney who can look at your specific claim and help determine why the claim was rejected. An attorney can also assist in filing an appeal when appropriate.
Can I Appeal a Claim Denial?
In some circumstances, yes. Only an attorney can help determine if your insurance claim denial can be appealed. Even more, they can help you understand how much success a claim appeal has.
What Are Insurance Claim Settlement Amounts Based On?
Insurance claim settlements are based on a variety of factors that are unique to individual cases. The amount of past, current, and future medical bills are one significant factor. How much it will cost to fix property damage, lost wages, and other factors may be considered.
Can I Go to Any Doctor for an Injury Related to This Case?
No. When receiving treatment for an injury caused by negligence, you’ll need to go to certain doctors. These doctors will both accept insurance claim payments and be familiar with the personal injury process.
It’s essential to understand the doctor you choose could be a deciding factor in whether your claim is successful or not. If the authenticity of your injuries comes into question, a doctor could be called on to testify in your defense. An attorney can help you find an appropriate doctor for your specific location and case.
What Does “Another Person’s Negligence” Mean?
In personal injury cases, you’ll often hear the term “another person’s negligence.” If you’re unsure what this means exactly, you’re not alone. Many people feel uncertain about the phrase.
The best way to understand the phrase is to break it down into two parts. The first part is simple. “Another person” means someone other than you.
If you caused your injury on purpose or by accident, it wouldn’t qualify as a personal injury case. If the accident happened on your property (and it wasn’t under construction), it also wouldn’t be eligible.
“Negligence” is defined as failure to take proper care in doing something. In other words, negligence is when someone doesn’t take care of something (including a person, in some cases), and this lack of care results in an injury or property damages.
Therefore, “another person’s negligence” means a person other than yourself has failed to take proper care in doing something. If your case meets this basic requirement, it likely qualifies as a personal injury case.
How Can I Find a Personal Injury Attorney in My Area?
The easiest way to find a personal injury attorney in your area is to type a query into your favorite search engine. Type “personal injury lawyer” plus your local area. It should come up with a listing of attorneys who work in your area.
An alternative method is to ask for recommendations from people you know. This works if you know someone who has previously used an attorney for a personal injury case. Ask the person (or people) if they’d recommend the lawyer and why.
How Can I Determine if a Lawyer Is Reliable?
An easy way to determine if a lawyer is reliable is to search for ratings and reviews online. There are many sites where previous clients can review their experience with attorneys they’ve used. The overall experience of previous clients is an excellent indicator of how your own experience will be.
Look for lawyers with high ratings and positive reviews. Most review sites have a rating system of one to five, with five being the best. Avoid lawyers with one or two-star average ratings and give preference to those who have received a four or five-star average.
How Do Personal Injury Attorneys Charge for Their Services?
Each attorney may charge differently for their services. Generally, however, personal injury lawyers charge a percentage of your total claim amount. In most circumstances, this means retaining a lawyer for these types of cases requires no money upfront.
Keep in mind this may not be true for all personal injury attorneys. It’s important to discuss payment before signing a retainer contract, so you understand what to expect.
What Changes If My Personal Injury Case Ends up Going to Court?
The answer to this question is unique to each lawyer. Some lawyers may charge a larger percentage of your claim amount if the case ends up going to court. Others may charge a flat rate fee for court.
Again, it’s important to discuss all financial issues with your lawyer before signing a contract. If you have any questions about how a contract is worded or what something means, be sure to inquire about it. Your attorney should have no problems answering your questions.
What Will the Lawyer (Usually) Need From Me in a Personal Injury Case?
First and foremost, your lawyer will need you to be upfront and honest about how the accident or injury happened. They may also need a list of potential witnesses, medical reports, and other forms of documentation.
More Questions About How To Know It’s Time To Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
While not every personal injury case requires a lawyer, many of them do. The situations above are the most common reasons you’d want to hire an attorney, but this list isn’t all-inclusive.
Do you have more questions about how to know when it’s time to hire a personal injury attorney?
Feel free to browse our other blogs. You’ll find articles on attorneys, lawsuits, and similar subjects to help you learn more on the subject.