If you were injured in an accident due to the negligence of another driver, you may be wondering whether you should hire a personal injury lawyer, or if you can handle the case yourself. Most personal injury cases, whether you have representation or not, are settled through negotiation before trial. If your injuries are relatively minor, you may be able to successfully proceed without a lawyer. However, if your injuries are more severe, it is best to have an experienced lawyer in order to ensure you receive full compensation for your injuries.
The Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm explains why you will likely earn more with a lawyer following a personal injury accident, and when and how to proceed with a claim on your own.
How Can an Attorney Help Me Get More Money in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
According to a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council, people who have suffered a bodily injury due to the negligence of another win 3.5 times more money settling with an attorney than those who do not hire a personal injury attorney. It is important to understand why this is to determine if hiring a personal injury attorney may be the right option for you.
Attorneys are Familiar with Insurance Company Tactics
It is extremely common for insurance companies to intimidate and take advantage of injury victims. Some of the ways they attempt this is by claiming you may be in some way responsible for the accident, that you cannot prove the long term impact of your injury, or that you need to be examined by one of their approved health care professionals. Additionally, they will undoubtedly try to get you to settle for an amount much lower than what you deserve, by taking advantage of the fact that you will likely be struggling to pay medical bills immediately following your injury. However, if you have a reputable Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer representing you, the insurance company will likely know that fighting against an experienced lawyer will cost more in legal fees than the claim is worth to them.
Attorneys Have Experience Assessing Full Effects of Injuries
When handling an injury claim, it is incredibly important to consider not only the immediate medical bills, but also how your injury may cost you in the future. If you need to visit a doctor periodically following an injury, or you are unable to return to work or engage in everyday activities due to the nature of your injury, these are important things to consider when calculating damages. Personal injury lawyers work with your medical team to assess all future consequences of your injury and recovery, and can draw on hundreds of previous cases in order to accurately assess medical costs and determine the value of pain and suffering due to medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and emotional distress.
Attorneys Know How to Identify Negligent Parties
In certain accidents, liability is not always clear. Not only could you be partially responsible for the accident, but other parties may be involved as well. For example, if the car in your car accident has some default, the manufacturer or mechanic may share some responsibility for the accident. Additionally, if a drunk driver causes an accident, the bar that served them may be partially liable. Personal injury attorneys will hire a team of investigators and experts to gather data and ensure that everyone involved is rightfully held accountable.
Attorneys are Experienced in Pennsylvania Law
Although you could attempt to learn the unique laws and statutes that apply in injury cases following an accident in Pennsylvania, it is time consuming and does not ensure that you will represent yourself well enough to receive the compensation you deserve. An experienced Upper Darby personal injury attorney has spent years learning the ins and outs of Pennsylvania law, relevant statutes, legal precedents relating to accidents, and has experience with local judges and insurance companies, all of which will contribute toward increasing the potential settlement value.
If They Don’t Win, You Don’t Pay
The majority of personal injury attorneys in Pennsylvania work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will not owe them anything if they lose your case. Additionally, you do not have to pay upfront for representation, enabling you to pay for medical bills you will likely be dealing with. You will only pay a fee once your attorney has won your case. In most cases, the attorney fees are not a big enough of a drawback given that their expert help will win you a much larger portion than you could’ve yourself.
Factors to Consider When Representing Yourself and How a Lawyer’s Experience Can Benefit
You may find yourself in a situation where you think not obtaining legal representation saves you money by avoiding legal. The following factors will help you determine whether an attorney is essential or if you can represent yourself.
Seriousness of Your Injuries
If you were in a fender bender in which you were hardly injured or not injured at all, it will be easy to settle the case and cover your property damage and medical expenses through insurance. On the other hand, if you were seriously injured in an accident, and endured serious pain and suffering as well as extensive medical treatment and loss of wages, it may be wise to have your case evaluated by a Chester, PA personal injury lawyer. The more serious your injuries, the more likely you are to receive a settlement offer that does not sufficiently cover your injuries and pain and suffering. An experienced attorney can help tremendously with the hostile back-and-forth litigation process.
In order to make a successful claim, you will need solid evidence establishing your injuries as well as your degree of pain and suffering. Evidence can be anything from witness testimony to supporting documents including a doctor’s evaluation. If you were able to gather a sufficient amount of evidence that proves pain and suffering to a judge, then you may be able to proceed without a lawyer. However, if you are not able to gather enough evidence, you should consider seeking help from a Main Line Philly personal injury lawyer.
The first thing to be sure of when pursuing a claim against another driver is that they were at fault for the accident. If it is obvious that the other driver is at fault, you will have an easier time proceeding with your claim without an attorney. On the other hand, if there is a dispute over fault, or the other driver makes a counter-claim, you may want to have expert representation.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
When pursuing a claim, you will need to state an exact amount of pain and suffering damages, even though it can be subjective and difficult to calculate. There are two common methods to calculate pain and suffering. The first is the “multiplier” method, in which you multiply the total of your medical bills by a number ranging from 1-5, depending on the severity of your injuries. The “per diem” method demands a certain dollar value per day of your pain and suffering. If you are having trouble coming up with a specific value for your pain and suffering, it may be wise to hire a lawyer who is trained in calculating damages to recover full compensation.
Is It Difficult to Make a Pain and Suffering Claim By Yourself in Pennsylvania?
When making a pain and suffering claim, you will need to send the insurance company a demand letter, with summarizes your claim and the damages. The demand letter will explain exactly why the defendant is liable for the accident and your injuries, the nature and severity of your injuries and your corresponding medical treatment, any financial losses directly relating to the accident, any pain and suffering as well as how you determined a value for pain and suffering, and all of this will be supported by relevant evidence.
This process can be long and complex, and our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys have decades of experience dealing with insurance companies and fighting for victims to get what they are owed after a tragic accident. Let us help you succeed.
Setting Yourself Up for Success After a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Accident
If you are able to, it can be helpful to take photographs of the scene of the accident, including any property damage or any injuries you sustained. Next, you will want to seek medical attention as soon as possible for any and all injuries. This is important even if you don’t believe you are injured, as injuries can aggravate over time. You will want to use any personal injury protection (PIP) insurance you have to pay your initial medical bills, and then follow by applying your health insurance. It is essential to ask for copies of all records and bills, as you will include this in your demand letter. You will also want to obtain a copy of the police report of the accident. It is advised not to give a recorded statement to the other person’s insurance, and not to post anything about your injury on social media.
Supporting Documents and Evidence
As stated previously, you must prove pain and suffering through satisfactory evidence supporting your claim. It is important to control for yourself what the insurance company considers when evaluating your claim. Thus, you should attach to your demand letter any medical records or receipts, a doctor’s note, the police report from the accident, any relevant witness statements as well as photos of your injuries.
Evaluating Your Pain and Suffering
Perhaps the most difficult part of making your own claim is calculating pain and suffering damages, and stating how you came up with this figure. You will need to explain how your injuries and pain has impacted your life including work or daily activities since the accident. You will consider a variety of factors including the severity of your injuries, the location and nature of any scarring or permanent disfigurement, the recovery time for your injuries, any future medical treatment or long-lasting consequences from your injuries, and socio-economic factors. It may be difficult to come up with an accurate figure that will fully compensate you for your pain and suffering, which is why hiring a seasoned attorney to assist you in this process may be beneficial.
Call Our Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Firm Today for Help
If you were injured in a tragic accident, you deserve to receive maximum compensation for your pain and suffering. If your injuries are minor and it is obvious the defendant is at-fault, you can proceed with a claim on your own by representing yourself. However, if your injuries are more significant, you may need a lawyer who is well versed in the litigation process to ensure you maximize the value of your claim. If you were injured in an accident, call our Reading personal injury lawyers today at (215) 709-6940 for a free consultation.