The benefits of having an experienced personal injury lawyer represent your claim usually far outweigh any detriment you may anticipate. However, if your mind is set on proceeding without experienced legal counsel, there are three main points to remember before you begin:
- You can legally handle your own personal injury claim without a lawyer, but it is not wise.
- The insurance company will be happy you don’t have a lawyer handling the claim.
- Filing a claim without a lawyer will cost you more money than it would if you used a lawyer.
If you are still convinced you to want to handle your own personal injury claim, here are some tips from the expert personal injury lawyers at Clauson Law to help you improve your odds of success.
What to do first when filing your own personal injury claim
Your first task after you get proper medical attention for your injury is to collect and preserve any evidence that shows how the injury occurred. You will want to take a full set of photographs of the scene of the incident as soon as possible. Every passing day is another opportunity for evidence to be lost.
If the injury was suffered in an auto accident, photograph any skid marks, debris scattered in the street, or damage to vehicles. Have someone photograph your wounds, lacerations, sutures, bruises, or any other visible injuries. If your injury resulted from a fall due to a property owner’s negligent maintenance, photograph the obstruction or feature of the property that caused you to fall.
Send a demand letter
Identifying the legally responsible party can sometimes be challenging, especially if the incident involved company employees or government-owned vehicles. In a simple case with a single motor vehicle driver as the negligent party, you must give formal notice of your claim and demand they pay for your injuries and damages. The recipient of the letter typically forwards it to their insurance company whose representative will contact you.
But be prepared for the insurance company to press you for details about how your injury is improving, whether you are working if you are still receiving treatment from a doctor, and what your total damages are. During these early conversations, a skilled insurance adjuster will get you to concede as many facts in their favor as possible. They will minimize each of your claims and shift responsibility away from their insured.
Determine the value of your claim
The time will come for the insurance adjuster to discuss dollars and cents. How much will you accept to settle your claim? You should be sure to calculate your lost wages, the value of any property damage, the cost of medical treatment, and whether you will need future medical procedures. You will need to decide how much money will compensate you for your physical and mental pain and suffering.
Assessing the settlement value of your claim is as much of an art as a science. Usually, people without lawyers undervalue their claims and are convinced by the insurance adjuster to accept less than the person wanted.
The value of an experienced personal injury lawyer
Most people who represent themselves in legal matters assume there isn’t much expertise required to obtain a fair settlement. Experienced personal injury lawyers spend their professional lives sharpening their skills, researching new law, countering the arguments of aggressive insurance adjusters, and using the courts to force insurance companies to offer the full value of their clients’ injury claims.
The value of a personal injury lawyer’s services is demonstrated by the fact that even after the lawyer’s fee is paid, settlement proceeds for most clients are higher than the client would have received without the help of a trained, talented personal injury lawyer.
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