If you’re in a car accident or if you’re the victim of a personal injury, you may be put in a position where you have to negotiate with insurance companies or other parties – but you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you shouldn’t do it alone. Working with a lawyer can you help you feel better about the process, give you more information you can use to make better decisions, and give you a stronger foundation in the face of insurance companies that are incentivized to pay you as little as possible.
Hiring a Lawyer
One of the first things you’ll need to do after an accident (after getting the medical attention you need) is hire a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer is going to guide you through every aspect of your case, from helping you determine your likelihood of winning compensation to fighting on your behalf in the courtroom, if the case ever goes to trial.
Initially, your lawyer will likely give you a free consultation to determine if your case is appropriate to take on. If they decide to take you as a client, you’ll likely pay fees proportional to whatever compensation you win; if you don’t win any compensation, you’ll likely pay nothing.
From there, your lawyer will guide you through the rest of the process, serving as your official representation in negotiations with insurance companies and providing you with legal counsel.
The Insurance Problem
Why can’t you simply negotiate with insurance companies by yourself? There are a few different reasons for this, but one of the biggest factors to consider is the fact that compensation can be complicated. If you want to truly cover all the costs you incurred as a result of the accident, then you’ll need to think about the following:
- Property damage. Insurance companies are responsible for paying for property damage, such as damage to your vehicle or your home.
- Medical expenses. They’ll also be responsible for covering your medical expenses, including your initial visits, your follow-up appointments, and ongoing physical therapy.
- Lost wages. If you’re unable to work because of the accident, you’re also entitled to compensation for lost wages.
- Pain and suffering. You may also be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. this is largely subjective, so it can be difficult to get adequate compensation for it.
- Loss of consortium. If you lost a partner or close family member in the accident, you may also be entitled to loss of consortium damages.
- Punitive damages. In cases of extreme negligence, certain parties may also be held responsible for punitive damages, designed as a punishment measure to discourage future incidents like these.
On top of that, it’s hard for an individual to argue with insurance companies, because insurance companies deliberately avoid it. It’s hard to get respect or get past customer service in your negotiation efforts, should you go it alone.
The Value of Having a Lawyer
It’s certainly possible to negotiate with insurance companies on your own. But if you hire a lawyer, you’ll end up seeing much better results, for variety of important reasons, including:
- Experience. Your lawyer has likely done this before. They went to law school and learned about proper negotiation tactics. They have intimate knowledge of insurance companies and how they work. And they’ve likely won a number of cases and settlements in the past. In other words, they have much more experience than you do, and are much better able to handle negotiations effectively.
- Respect. Additionally, lawyers tend to be more respected by insurance companies. When an ordinary individual reaches out to an insurance company, hoping to negotiate a higher settlement, most insurance companies don’t take them very seriously. When a lawyer stands up and starts negotiating, they start listening – and are much more willing to engage.
- Direction. Lawyers will also provide you with direction and information, so you can have all the context you need when observing and engaging with the negotiation process. They’ll help you understand what to expect, provide you reassurance if you’re nervous negotiations are going in a bad direction, and provide you with advice on what to do next.
- Total amount awarded. Unsurprisingly, for these reasons and others, people who work with lawyers are much more likely to win a higher settlement. On average, people working with lawyers have a much higher total amount awarded.
You don’t have to work with a lawyer. It’s possible to navigate the complexities of the legal system in the aftermath of your car accident completely by yourself. But for most people, hiring a lawyer is the only reasonable option, because lawyers provide so much value for a relatively small fee.