pain and suffering

Do you need a personal injury lawyer? When Hiring an Attorney is Worth It?

Common personal injuries include car accident injuries, Medical malpractice, product liability, slip, and fall accidents, and wrongful deaths. These injuries could be self-inflicting (out of your carelessness) or due to the negligence of another party. The question is, Do you need a personal injury lawyer? And when hiring an attorney, is it worth it?

For instance, if you suffered injuries due to a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, do you need a car accident attorney or not? When should you consider hiring one? Does hiring a lawyer to increase your settlement offer or even takes away the little profits/gains? Do all personal injuries require the help of an attorney or not? Well, this article covers all of that and goes the extra mile to cover injuries related to car accidents.

 I will more particular talk about personal injuries due to car accidents. Do not read beyond this point if what you wanted to read about was other personal injuries other than automobile accidents.

This article is lengthy and probably your specific answer is covered in one or two paragraphs. Go through the contents below and visit only sections of the article you may be interested in. Here we go!

Major bodily injuries or severe property (car) damages warrant hiring a personal injury lawyer. I do not recommend hiring a lawyer if you sustained minor personal injuries or minimal economic losses.

Page Contents

why do I need a personal injury lawyer?

According to The National Center for Health Statistics, 31 million people in the USA each year get injuries requiring medical treatment. A report from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that the total number of car accidents in the USA is around 5.5 million.

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Out of 5.5 million car accidents, 3 million people are injured leading to more than 40,000 fatalities. In addition, Truck accidents add in somewhere around 60,000 injuries and 5,000 deaths each year.

If you just suffered personal injuries due to a car accident, the expected average settlement for personal injury is somewhere between $3,000 and $75,000. This is merely an average number. 

The largest personal injury settlement ever was the tobacco master settlement when the jury punished the company for the effects of cigarettes on people. Tobacco masters were asked to pay $206 billion as a punishment for selling cigarettes that damaged people’s health yet did not warn them of the dangers.

An injured person is entitled to the following damages:

  • Special damages. 

  • General damages

  • Wrongful death damages and

  •  punitive damages

Examples of personal injury special damages include the following:

  • Lost income 

  • Medical bills

  • Cost to repair damaged property

  • Household expenses

Examples of General damages include the following:

  • Pain and suffering

  • Physical disabilities and disfigurement

  • Loss of enjoyment and lost reputation

Wrongful death damages include the following:

  • Emotional distress

  • Lost consortium

  • Value of a deceased person

  • Funeral and burial expenses

  • Deceased expected lost income etc.

You can dive in and do negotiations with your insurance company for a fair settlement if you know how to go about it. If you know how to table your claim by considering all the above-listed damages, then there is no reason you need to hire a car accident attorney. 

But we all know and agree with each other that few of us know how to prove the above damages. If you decided to go with no personal injury, most likely you won’t be able to exhaust all possible damages you are entitled to. You will most likely receive a less settlement offer from your insurance company. 

On the other hand, you do not need to hire a personal injury lawyer if you sustained minor injuries and your claim settlement is small. Hiring an attorney when you are entitled to $1,000- $10,000 is not a good decision. Your attorney usually gets a cut of around 30% of your final settlement offer. You will end up with almost no money if you hired a lawyer and the settlement amount is very small. 

Average claim settlement with an attorney.

According to my insurance broker, the average settlement for personal injuries due to a car accident is 3-5X higher than when no personal injury lawyer is hired. Claim adjusters are well-trained to offer the lowest possible settlement. Since these adjusters have mastered all the tricks on how injury victims are best cheated!

Do personal injury lawyers go to court?

Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. Many lawyers rarely go to court because the cases they handle do not always end up in trial. Lawyers such as labor lawyers, estate planning lawyers, Bankruptcy attorneys, and personal injury attorneys rarely go to court unless the defendant shows no signs of willingness to settle.

Do I need a lawyer for a personal injury claim?

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another party, soon you will demand damages explained earlier in this article. If your injuries are from a car accident where you are not at fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should cover your damages up to the other driver’s policy limits.

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You will need to file your claim through the other party’s insurance company, or file through your coverage if the other driver has no or inadequate coverage to pay for all the damages you are entitled to.

The truth is that you do not need a lawyer for a personal injury claim if you sustained minor injuries and your final settlement is likely to be little money. If you had severe life-threatening injuries or significant property damages, a personal injury lawyer will help you get a maximum settlement. 

If you need to claim against an insurance company, then the following coverages will be your go-to:

  • The other drivers’ liability coverage pays for both your injuries and property damages.

  • Your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage

  • Your collision coverage for your car repair costs.

You do not need a personal injury lawyer if you are dealing with an excellent insurance claims adjuster or if you expect a lower settlement. If you are pursuing a huge claim payout, getting an attorney to negotiate on your behalf helps you scoop the maximum claim payout.

How to file a personal injury claim without a lawyer?

If you had a car accident in which you suffered damages, you could be entitled to compensation from either your insurance company or the company that belongs to the at-fault party.

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Before you receive the compensation, a claim should be filed through the insurance company which after careful evaluation, the company could decide against or pays off your claim up to your insurance policy limits. For other types of personal injuries, better contact an attorney.

Your claim should be accompanied by documents, pictures, and any other information that the insurance company may have asked you to submit. If in doubt, call and ask your insurance company or broker. 

What to do after a car accident?

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You will need to do the following after any car accident to gather the information necessary to kick-start your claim process:

  • Take note of the time, address, street, etc on which the accident took place.

  • If you or any of your passengers are injured, do not move the car from the spot. Call the police and 911 right away if you can. Otherwise, move your car to a safer side of the road. If in pain or injured accept going to the hospital with an ambulance.

  • Exchange information with the other driver. You should get names, registration information, plates number, insurance information, and any other necessary information as was told by your company.

  • Do not leave the accident scene not until a traffic officer arrived and compiled a police report form. If possible get a copy.

  • Take pictures of the injuries, car damages, dents, dings, skid marks, etc. Take pictures of the surrounding area in relation to the car accident.

  • Ask any witnesses or bystanders about what they saw. with their permission put their statements on record. Get their contact numbers and addresses too.

  • Do not make any statement that may later be used against you. Do not accept fault even if it’s obvious you caused the accident.

  • Call and inform your insurance company but avoid making any incriminating statements.

  • If you got involved in a major car accident, you may consider letting your attorney know. Minor car accidents can be handled locally as long as you do not think the other driver turns against you. If you do not trust the other driver, inform your attorney too even if the accident is a minor one. 

  • If your insurance company has an online App, upload the accident pictures onto the app to kick-start the claim process. 

  • Once all the documents have been received, your claims adjuster will do investigations, and depending on his findings, your claim could be settled or denied.

  • Denying your claim implies going after the at-fault driver by hiring an attorney for possible lawsuits.

How to handle a personal injury case from start to finish?

Handling a personal injury case from start to finish is a daunting task especially if you are injured and still under the doctor’s care. Hiring an attorney if you are injured to negotiate on your behalf could save you loads of tasks.

A personal injury case can be handled through the following steps:

insurance, car, car insurance

1. Insurer stage. Here, you or your attorney deal directly with the insurance company’s claims adjuster to settle your claim. If your claim can be settled locally with the insurer, then there is no need to go to trial or try alternative dispute resolution. Your lawyer compiles all your medical reports or bills, evidence of wage loss, and evidence of pain and suffering and goes straight for settlement negotiations with the insurer.

It is a fact that most insurance companies or clients do not want to go to trial because the trial process is costly, non-predictable, and can drag on for so long. A larger percentage of personal injury cases are settled out of court.

2. Alternative dispute resolution. If your case can not settle and both parties do not like the idea of going to trial, mediation is the way to go. During mediation, the chosen/agreed upon mediator helps the 2 disputing parties to settle their case. The mediator charges a daily fee that is paid equally by the 2 parties. I have already written this full article about mediation as one of the ways of conflict resolution.  

3. litigation / Trial

If the 2 above claim handling processes fail, the last alternative remains litigation and trial. During litigation you could be questioned by the defense lawyers and also your lawyer will question the defendant party. During the questioning, a court reporter will be present. You the claimant could also be asked to attend independent medical examinations. A trial usually follows litigation.

Note that even if your case has gone to the trial stage, settlement is still possible. Many cases under trial still settle before the jury’s verdict. This is a reason you need to hire an attorney since all the claim-handling processes described above require professional knowledge and good legal expertise.

Documents required for personal accident claim

You will need to submit several documents to the insurance company for your claim process to get started. This document has a full list of the required documents for a personal injury claim. 

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If you are in hurry, the following are some of the documents required for a personal accident claim.

  • Claim form

  • A report from the attending doctor

  • Fitness report from the doctor

  • Certificate from your employer stating your designation

  • Investigation reports – Lab, x-rays, Blood tests, MRI, Scans, etc

  • Disability certificate

  • Admission/discharge letters if hospitalized.

Personal accident insurance claim procedure

The topmost causes of personal accidents include the following:

  • Automobile accidents. This is the leading cause of accidents worldwide.

  • Construction accidents

  • Medical malpractice

  • Dog bites and 

  • Premises liabilities.

If you are the guys who love going behind the wheel, you should always be prepared because you never know the day when unexpected events will befall you. According to data, more than 14% of drivers in the USA drive with no insurance. 

According to my research, it is estimated that more than 77% of drivers in the USA have experienced at least one car accident in their lifetime. For every 1000 miles a driver goes on the road, his/her probability of getting involved in a car accident becomes 0.00273. This implies that for every 1000 miles driven, 1 in 366 drivers are likely to get involved in a car accident. 

Car accident not only causes injuries ie pain and suffering but also lead to significant financial losses. You need to guard against such losses by purchasing personal car accident insurance policies. 

Any driver would be better protected by buying the following insurance coverages:

All those coverages are better explained on this site, so feel free to click on the above list and find out more about those coverages.

Types of personal accident insurance coverage include the following:

  • Individual personal accident insurance plans. This coverage is meant for only individuals and offers more coverage compared to group insurance coverage. It covers both deaths and disabilities due to accidents. 

  • Group personal accident insurance. This policy is usually provided by employers to their employees. It offers basic coverage and is not as comprehensive as individual plans.

Your personal accident insurance coverage will protect you by covering the following events:

  • Accident liabilities. Disabilities can be permanent or short-term.

  • Any Accidental deaths.

  • Any Accidental dismemberment. You can get compensated for lost limbs, fingers, permanent paralysis, etc.

  • Hospital cash 

  • Injuries due to terrorist acts.

If you just suffered a personal accident, here are guidelines for the Personal accident insurance claim procedure:

  • After the accident, the victim should immediately inform the insurance company through the company’s customer care department.

  • Submit your proof of policy documents

  • Fill and file your claim forms

  • Provide any other required documents like death certificates, proof of disabilities, etc.

  • The insurance company will scrutinize your claim and decide if to honor it or deny you payments.

When do you need a personal injury lawyer?

The days that follow your car accident or any personal injuries are not always the happier ones especially if you suffered major bodily injuries and damaged your car. The situation is usually overcomplicated in situations you are deemed the at-fault driver in the accident.

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Whether you are the claimant or defendant party, you may wonder if hiring a personal injury lawyer is of any help. The truth is, you should consider hiring a car accident attorney in the following situations.

1. If your claim is being disputed. Dealing with any insurance company is hard and beating their tactics is impossible unless you have good legal knowledge. The insurance company will look around for excuses for denying your claim or reduce it if possible. To avoid such situations, hiring a lawyer is the only remedy. 

2. When you are falsely blamed for the cause of the accident. Lawyers are trained and equipped with all the necessary skills needed to prove fault in personal injury legal cases. You may be innocent in the car crash case but the other insurance company insists you contributed to the accident by for instance speeding. Hiring an attorney could save your day. 

3. If you sustained permanent disabilities or severe injuries. People who have limited legal knowledge do not know about the list of damages they are entitled to. For instance, you may not be knowing that you are entitled to damages like pain and suffering, emotional distress, accident-related psychological issues like effects on sexual life, depression, loss of function, etc. Such cases always settle for millions of dollars but you will only get it if you hired a good lawyer. 

4. Alternative ways to resolve. You can not beat the tactics of an experienced claims adjuster whose training was only focused on how best to cheat claimants. I already told you that your offer will almost be peanuts and it’s only your negotiation skills that will raise your settlement offer. If the insurance company shows no signs of willingness to settle, a few of the options is to run to the attorney for help.

5. Personal injury handling process. Lawyers spent years at school learning all the intricacies of handling cases like personal injuries. Some have also spent years handling such cases from which they earn a living. On the other, if you chose to represent yourself, the chances of beating the defendant who has money and personnel are low. 

6. If your case goes to trial. Do you really know the court’s procedures? Are you knowledgeable enough to stage a good argument against the defendant’s experienced attorneys? Consider hiring a personal injury lawyer if the answer is no to the questions above.

7. You want or expect a higher settlement payout. Data has shown that personal case injuries where a lawyer is hired usually settle for a higher settlement compared to when no attorney is involved in negotiations. 

What does a personal injury lawyer do?

Your thoughts could run towards a personal injury lawyer after an accident. Yes, you are right but you should know that there is more to a personal injury lawyer than just a car accident. 

Personal injury lawyers fight for the rights of the injured person. They ensure that the injured party receives compensation for the injuries sustained due to the negligence of another party.

A personal injury lawyer will navigate your complex legal processes, gather all necessary evidence to pin the at-fault party, compute your losses, file a claim on your behalf, and build your case ready for a lawsuit should the defendant show no signs of willingness to settle.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer Or Handle Your Own Claim?

Yes, you can handle your own case and successfully settle without any problems. In fact, many people do. what you ought to know is that attempting to handle your case and deciding later to hire an attorney only complicates things and the chances of losing your claim are higher. 

This is because, by handling your case, you most likely already revealed incriminating information to the other party which they will use against you should the case go to trial. It is recommended you seek the advice of an attorney initially and see if hiring an attorney is worth it or not.

The following are personal injury cases you can handle on your own without the help of a lawyer.

1. Minor injuries or fewer car damages. You do not need the services of an attorney if the damages or payout is not going to be less. Insurance will not likely offer you less settlement if you only need a few dollars to repair your car or pay your medical bills. 

2. No fault state. All no-fault states require drivers to purchase and claim through their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for medical bills unless they need much more money for medical bills. You will only claim through the other party’s insurance company only if there are significant property damages or if your hospital bills exceed your PIP limits. You may not need the services of an attorney if PIP is enough to cover your damages.

3. You are already being offered the limit of the insurance policy. If the at-fault driver liability coverage has a limit of $200,000 and the company already offers you the same amount, there is no need of hiring a lawyer unless you know the defendant has property or money to cover your damages.

4. If you think you can successfully negotiate with the claims adjuster. Not all insurance companies are bad. If you have good past experiences with the company and you really trust them, do not hire a personal injury lawyer. 

5. If you are comfortable researching the claim settlement process and other legal knowledge. In such scenarios, you may consider not hiring a car accident attorney. 

How do I file pain and suffering?

Every claim should be accompanied by evidence of the damages suffered. You can file for pain and suffering by sending a demand letter to the defendant or the at-fault insurance company. 

The demand letter should give detail of the claim and damages. You should highlight clearly your pain and suffering and support your claim with evidence and supporting documents. If you hired an attorney, just relax for your lawyer is the master of the processes. 

What percentage do most personal injury lawyers take?

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Most car accident attorneys take home 33% of your settlement. However, the lawyer could take much more than that if your case goes to trial. Remember, you will be asked to pay the lawyer fees and costs incurred during your case handling. 

Here is an example. Assume your lawyer won you $100,000 as your final settlement, 33% could cover the lawyer fees and you could still be asked to pay costs like filing, photocopying costs, transport costs, case research costs, and so many others.

Personal injury attorneys work on contingency payment plans. You pay nothing till the lawyer wins you a settlement. So you only pay if you receive a settlement or else the lawyer receives no payment.

What kind of cases do personal injury lawyers handle?

Personal injury can be defined as a legal term that refers to any injuries to the body, mind, and emotions as opposed to an injury to properties.

Causes of personal injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents eg car accidents, truck crashes, recreational car accidents, and motorcycle accidents.

  • Air accidents like plane crash/ helicopter accidents.

  • Workplace or premises liability accidents. These include slips and falls, negligent security, and dog bites.

Personal injury lawyers are law professionals that handle bodily injury cases arising from the above-mentioned causes. If the negligence of another person leads to your injuries, then the at-fault party has a case to answer and will need to compensate you for the injuries you incurred.

Personal injury lawyer salary

The law profession is one of the highest-paying fields. According to this site, the average salary for personal injury lawyers in the USA is $85,000.

Typically, personal injury lawyer salaries range between $72,000 to $98,000.

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What you earn as a personal injury lawyer will depend on the following factors:

  • Education and certifications

  • Years of experience and

  • Additional skills.

To conclude, there are situations where you need to hire a personal injury lawyer and other cases where seeking the services of a car accident attorney does not make sense. You need to hire one if the defendant shows no signs of willingness to settle or if you expect large sums of settlement.