Some personal injuries are catastrophic. Others are minor. The more serious your injury, the more likely you are to need a lawyer to help you deal with the insurance company claim. Sometimes, it is difficult to decide whether you should or shouldn’t. When in doubt, however, seek legal advice.
Were You Seriously Injured?
Some injuries take time to manifest themselves. If you even suspect that you might have suffered an injury, seek immediate medical attention. If you don’t, you might later discover you suffered a serious injury such as whiplash or traumatic brain injury.
The insurance company may use any delay in seeking medical attention to assert that your injury did not occur until after the accident. With immediate medical attention, you will know whether you need to contact a personal injury lawyer.
How Much Do You Understand About the Relevant Law?
How much do you understand about personal injury law? How much do you understand about insurance law? You will need to understand a lot to maximize the value of your claim. It is not enough to understand these laws in general. You must understand Florida personal injury and insurance laws because Florida law includes nuances that differ from the laws of other states
Keep this in mind – you are taking a considerable risk by representing yourself even if you do understand the law, because objectivity is difficult when you are your own client.
What Can a Consultation With a Lawyer Do For You?
Almost any personal injury lawyer will offer you a free consultation to discuss your case. During this consultation, the lawyer will listen to the details of your case, answer your questions, and evaluate the strength of your claim.
Once you understand the strength of your claim, you will be in a much better position to determine whether you need a lawyer to represent you, either in court or at the negotiating table.
You needn’t worry that the lawyer will con you into receiving unnecessary services. Since personal injury lawyers work on contingency, they don’t make any money unless you do. If your claim is too small or too weak to justify hiring a personal injury lawyer, they will tell you so.
What Kinds of Negotiating Tricks Might the Insurance Company Use?
Insurance adjusters are expert negotiators. They negotiate with one and only one purpose in mind: to save as much money as possible for their employer, the insurance company. It is this reality that makes the insurance adjuster your adversary–and a very formidable adversary at that.
Unfortunately, insurance adjusters are full of tricks. Some of these tricks are unethical, while others are downright illegal “bad faith Insurance practices”. Following are just a few examples of the many tricks that you might face if you attempt to handle your claim on your own. The larger the amount of your claim, the more likely it is that the insurance company will resort to one or more of these tactics.
- Issuing you an inadequate settlement offer before you have even left the hospital. This offer will include an artificial deadline. The insurance company does not want you to know that this deadline is not legally binding. The Florida statute of limitations deadline is your only real deadline.
- Convincing you that you do not need a lawyer to represent you. This is the most dangerous trick of all.
- Sending bogus friend requests to your social media accounts, to gain access to snoop for information that they can use against you. Your best bet is to stay off social media entirely until you resolve your claim and the money is already in your pocket.
- Record an interview with you where they ask you trick questions. These questions are designed to get you to make statements that they can use to attribute fault to you.
- Seek your signature on a document that gives them unlimited access to your health care records. An insurance company can use this access to go on a “fishing expedition” looking for information to use against you. If you suffered a back injury long ago, for example, they might assert that the accident did not cause your injury.
We know all the insurance company tricks, and we will not fall for a single one of them. In fact, it is unlikely that an insurance company would even dare to try one of these tricks on us. They know better.
When Should You Hire a Lawyer?
You should definitely hire a lawyer under the following circumstances:
- Someone died in the accident, and you plan to pursue a wrongful death claim.
- You suffered a catastrophic injury or an injury that is likely to result in long-term or permanent disability. Under these circumstances, accurately calculating your future medical bills and lost income can be very difficult.
- The opposing party is blaming you for the accident, or at least claiming that the accident was partly your fault.
- The case involves multiple parties. This might happen, for example, after a highway pileup accident.
- Your case is scientifically complex. Medical malpractice cases and product liability cases are often scientifically complex.
- The defendant is a government (local, state, or federal).
- Your child suffered an injury, and you are filing a personal injury claim on their behalf.
- The insurance company is being uncooperative or engaging in bad faith practices.
- Your claim involves a lot of money. One example is a serious burn injury where pain and suffering damages are immense.
- The defendant injured you intentionally and you are seeking punitive damages.
There are too many other circumstances when you might need a lawyer to list all of them here. Contact our Jacksonville injury lawyers for a free consultation to discuss whether you have a claim after your accident.