If you’ve visited our legal blog before, you may have seen our article about whether you need an insurance company to settle a car accident claim. This time, we’re shifting the focus onto whether you need an attorney. While it may seem biased for a car accident lawyer to advise hiring an attorney to assist you, there are a few important reasons you should strongly consider seeking legal representation before you file a personal injury claim in Oklahoma.
How a Lawyer Can Maximize the Value of Your Claim
In our article on settling a car accident claim without using insurance, we talked about the risks and pitfalls of handling an accident claim privately. However, even after involving the at-fault driver’s insurance company, there are also risks and pitfalls to handling an accident claim (or car accident lawsuit) on your own, which is called “pro se” representation from the Latin meaning “for oneself.”
Let’s start by addressing the major reason people are usually tempted to handle their claims independently: finances. Since you’re likely to have costly medical bills as a result of your car accident injuries, it may seem logical to save yourself money by forgoing representation and taking a do-it-yourself approach instead. However, the opposite is often true. It may sound contradictory, but hiring a lawyer is actually likely to save you money in the long run. The reason is that a skilled attorney can often increase the worth of your claim.
The insurance industry uses an arsenal of tactics — some of which skirt or completely break the boundaries of legality (known as bad faith insurance)— to undervalue claims and manipulate stressed, anxious accident victims into accepting deals that don’t actually benefit them. The claims adjuster knows you are worried about your medical expenses, and unfortunately, he or she will probably try to exploit that fear by making you a low settlement offer in hopes you will seize it out of anxiety.
A good attorney will protect you from being taken advantage of. Your auto accident lawyer is armed with years or decades of experience, and knows just what details to emphasize — and, more importantly, how to support them with compelling evidence — in order to maximize the value of your claim. Factors like the size and location of any resulting scars, the extent to which your future earning capacity is diminished by the injury, and even the type of medical care you receive all play a role in determining the worth of your claim.
There’s an added financial benefit as well: many personal injury lawyers, including those of Hasbrook & Hasbrook, work on a contingency fee basis. This means you will not be charged any legal fees unless your attorney obtains compensation for you. There are no payments upfront to worry about.
Benefits of Representation by an Attorney in Injury Settlement Negotiations
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can potentially save you many thousands of dollars on medical care by negotiating for a much higher settlement offer than you may have been able to obtain on your own without the benefit of a private law firm’s resources. However, while getting a better value for your claim is certainly a major advantage, it’s not the only benefit of being represented by a car accident attorney. An attorney also brings a few additional benefits to the table, including:
- Experience proving fault. In order to receive compensation, you must be able to prove the other driver was responsible for the crash, which can be very complicated in multi-vehicle collision scenarios. Establishing fault for injuries involves a complex analysis of physical evidence, medical records, police reports, traffic laws, and insurance laws. You can trust your attorney to sift through dense legal information that’s difficult for most laypeople to interpret and apply effectively.
- Detailed knowledge of injuries. Unfortunately, it’s common for car accident victims to accept inadequate settlements because they either don’t realize how much their injuries are worth, or don’t anticipate the full extent of their future costs and losses. An experienced attorney will likely have worked on many claims involving injuries similar to yours, and will know what is — and isn’t — a fair and reasonable amount considering your current and anticipated losses. You can see some examples of verdicts and settlements resulting from various types of injuries in our articles on:
- Better preparation for court. If you file a lawsuit, legal representation is imperative. Civil courts follow extremely rigid and complicated rules and procedures. Pro se packets offer limited help, but otherwise, the plaintiff is completely on their own. It is almost impossible for a pro se litigant to succeed against aggressive, experienced defense attorneys, especially because there is a limited amount of time in which to prepare.
If you or one of your loved ones was injured in a car accident in Oklahoma City, Norman, Edmond, Moore, or another location in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, call the auto accident attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 235-1551 for a free legal consultation regarding your claim. You could be entitled to compensation.