The decision to hire a lawyer is very personal. Some accident victims choose to forgo compensation to avoid confrontation. Others try to handle their cases themselves to maintain control and save money.
But oftentimes, hiring a lawyer will make the difference between winning and losing your case. Lawyers provide both legal knowledge and experience with insurance companies, opposing lawyers, judges, and juries. This background can often produce better and quicker results than trying to handle the case without a lawyer.
Here are some situations you may face where you should strongly consider hiring a personal injury lawyer.
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The Injury Claim Process
The law imposes liability on people who cause injuries through negligent or intentional actions. This usually means that you immediately get the right to sue the negligent person or business for damages.
Thus, after a slip and fall accident in a grocery store, you may have the opportunity to sue the grocery store operator. But in many situations, an insurance policy will cover the negligent party.
Instead of filing a personal injury lawsuit, you will file a claim against the liability insurance policy of the negligent party.
Some examples of liability insurance against which you can file a claim include:
- Property insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance
- General business liability insurance
- Bodily injury liability insurance
The exception to this process applies to car accidents. Florida uses a no-fault auto insurance system. This means your auto insurance policy includes personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This coverage pays you when you get injured in an accident regardless of fault.
Under the no-fault system, Florida restricts your right to sue for damages after a car accident. You can sue for unreimbursed economic damages like medical expenses and lost wages if you exhaust your insurance policy’s PIP benefits. You may be able to sue for economic damages and non-economic damages like pain and suffering if the car accident caused a permanent injury.
As you move through the claim process, you may encounter many situations where you will benefit from legal advice and representation. Some examples of when you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer include:
Car Accident Caused a Permanent Injury or Death
If a car accident permanently injured you, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to deal with the at-fault driver’s insurer. Similarly, if a car accident killed a loved one, you should have a lawyer to handle the wrongful death case.
In these situations, Florida law exempts you from the no-fault system. As a result, you will immediately start with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. A lawyer will need to start working on all of the issues involved in the case, including:
- Proving negligence
- Establishing causation
- Documenting damages
A lawyer will need to develop the evidence to support each of these elements. This can take time and effort. The sooner you get the lawyer started on your case, the quicker the lawyer can resolve it.
You Have No Health Insurance
If you have no health insurance, you will bear financial responsibility for all of the medical expenses you incur due to your accident. Studies show that as many as 60% of bankruptcies result from unpaid medical bills.
Medical debt can accumulate quickly after an accident. You could face present and future medical expenses for:
- Outpatient procedures
- Laboratory tests
- Physical therapy
- Mental health counseling
Worse yet, your injuries could prevent you from working or require you to cut your hours. As a result, you could have enormous outflows of money while the inflow of money slows to a trickle.
Insurance Company Denies Your Claim
Insurance companies have a financial incentive to deny your claim. Many unrepresented claimants give up after a claim denial. And those that persist will often settle to avoid a protracted fight with the insurer.
Insurance companies must make a good faith effort to investigate and settle your claim. But insurers set up a complex and confusing system to delay and frustrate you.
In many cases, a lawyer can overcome a claim denial by providing additional documents or legal arguments. Occasionally, a claim denial will trigger a lawsuit. In either case, having a lawyer will help you evaluate what to do next.
Your Insurance Claim Has Stalled
Insurance companies often use delays to push you into a low settlement. Insurers know you need money and cannot work. The longer your claim takes, the better the chances that you will take a below-value offer.
But insurers often avoid playing games with lawyers. They know a lawyer understands the line between legitimate processing time and undue delay. A lawyer can often keep your case on track.
They also know a lawyer can advise you about the value of your claim. As a result, you are less prone to accept an unfair settlement.
The Negligent Party Has No Insurance
If the negligent party lacks insurance, you must deal directly with them. This means negotiating a settlement or filing a lawsuit.
Dealing directly with the negligent party brings risks. You will likely have strong emotions and may not negotiate objectively. A lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and prepare the agreement if the case settles. If the case does not settle, the lawyer can file a lawsuit.
The Insurer or Negligent Party Blames You
Under Florida’s modified comparative negligence statute, you can recover compensation as long as your share of blame is 50% or less. However, you’re barred from a financial recovery if your apportioned responsibility exceeds 50%.
For example, if a claims adjuster determines that you bear 30% of the blame for the accident, the insurer only needs to pay 70% of your damages. If they can shift 51% or more of the blame to you, you’ll be unable to recover any money.
A lawyer can defend you from the insurance company. This will allow you to get a settlement for your injuries based on a fair allocation of damages.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Most injury lawyers offer a free consultation for new clients. These consultations do not obligate you to hire a lawyer. Take advantage of these consultations to discuss how a lawyer can help. A personal injury lawyer can negotiate settlements and win jury verdicts in even the most complex cases. To discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact the Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.