Common Mistakes Made By Not Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney
It’s a common refrain, and a typical internal debate. “Should I hire a personal injury attorney?” There are articles in these guides that discuss suggested factors to be considered in making a decision to hire an attorney. Let’s take a moment to look at the downside. What are some of the pitfalls involved? Are their mistakes that can be made where the decision reached is to not hire an attorney?
Statutes of limitations may expire.
Most limitations periods are on a scale of years. However, a surprising number of people do tend to wait to the very end of the limitations period before taking action.
What is potentially more problematic are the very short notification time-frames involved in actions against local, federal and state governments.
If you are not aware of these requirements, you may lose your right to bring a claim in court of law. An experienced attorney can ensure that legal requirements are met.
Another common scenario involves a failure to understand all potential claims.
Perhaps the most common situation is where an individual is hurt by a third party while at work. A typical scenario involves a car accident while someone is in the scope and course of their employment. That person is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In addition that person is entitled to maintain an action against the driver of the other vehicle for personal injury. Moreover, the injured person may maintain an action against the employer of the person that hit them, l if applicable.
I’ve run into situations where someone has a worker’s compensation claim a personal injury claim but further research and analysis indicates that they also have an employment discrimination claim.
I’ve also seen cases where a worker compensation claim leads to an unpaid wages claim based on scrutiny of the employer’s records.The reality is many unrepresented people simply don’t understand the causes of action that they might have. An attorney can identify viable legal claims, and maximize your recovery.
Settling a case too early.
I’ve seen situations where an insurance company is offering a small settlement to a seriously injured person just weeks after the accident. I Attorney Eric T. Kirk have seen cases were the settlement offer has been accepted even while a person is in active treatment for their injuries. In my opinion this is a blatant mistake. There is simply no way to know the full value of a case until a point of certainty has been reached.
Extending settlement offers of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars quickly after an accident is a common insurance company tactic when dealing with unrepresented individuals.
The above leads fairly quickly into the next topic. Case value. I’ve always found it interesting that there is a prevalent belief that an insurance company is going to treat an unrepresented person fairly in a liability case. It surprises me that good people, for whatever reason, believe, or at least hope that this is the case despite numerous reasons for the contrary to be true.
Failure to Properly Value Your Case
What is your case worth? Who are you going to believe? In a liability case, the other person’s insurance company is never your friend. Quite the opposite. They are your adversary. They are acting in the interest of their insured, the other driver, and in the interest of their own bottom line. Those interests are always going to be directly aligned against your interest.
Nevertheless, there is a common belief that the insurance company in this situation will make a fair settlement offer. My experience indicates that this is most frequently a mistaken believe.
A seasoned lawyer can provide real guidance on an appropriate value for your case.
Mistakes can be made regarding case value in another manner. The obvious example is the unrepresented person who settles their case too early in the game, for far less than the case is actually worth. An experienced personal injury attorney who has handled hundreds or thousands of cases has a vast reservoir of experience to apply in valuing the case.
This level of experience and knowledge that is simply not available, and there’s no reason that it should be, to an unrepresented person involved in a singular personal injury case. A perhaps less common, but nevertheless all too frequent situation involves the unrepresented individual who overvalues their case. It’s understandable. Someone who is hurt, inconvenienced, angry, under financial pressure, and in pain rightly wants compensation for what has happened to them. But the emotional turmoil and stress that comes with these conditions has been known to lead individuals to seek too much compensation, or to believe they are entitled to too much compensation. This is where the guidance of a seasoned personal injury attorney can be highly valuable. A skilled attorney will explain compensation allowed under the law, and a what a reasonable recovery for the individual would look like, based on that lawyers experience. This counseling often serves to temper expectations and desires where those goals are excessive, or unsupported by the facts.