After surviving a major accident, the last thing anyone wants to do is file a lawsuit. Not only are lawsuits stressful (especially while recovering from an accident), but they can be expensive and time consuming too, depending on the legal issue at hand. So you may be wondering if you can skip the whole legal process, or just handle everything by yourself. Below, our legal team discusses when to hire a personal injury lawyer, and when you could possibly get by without hiring legal representation.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death due to negligence, it’s crucial to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. Chicago personal lawyers at Curcio Law Offices can protect your legal rights and help you pursue a fair settlement in any tort claim, whether it be an auto accident claim, a medical malpractice claim, or anything in between. Call our law firm at 312-321-1111 to schedule a free case evaluation today.
What is a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer is a legal professional who represents and protects the legal rights of people who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. Negligence refers to a wrongful, careless, or reckless act. These types of cases are referred to as civil torts.
Personal injury attorneys have endured law school and have been licensed by the state bar association in order to provide legal representation to injury victims. An experienced attorney will have extensive knowledge about state and local personal injury laws, ethical laws, and local court guidelines. This knowledge allows them to be the strongest possible advocate for injured clients who are likely in a very vulnerable position.
Most personal injury cases begin with a negotiation with the negligent party and/or their insurance adjuster. From there, the personal injury attorney will work with their client to file an actual lawsuit in court. However, very few personal injury lawsuits actually proceed to trial, most end with a settlement for the injury victim that covers all the expenses involved in their accident, including medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and more.
What Kinds of Cases Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle?
Personal injury claims can be any type of accident involving negligence that results in the injury or death of someone else. The most common types of claims that personal injury lawyers handle include:
- Car accident claims
- Pedestrian accident claims
- Bicycle accident claims
- Boat accident claims
- Motorcycle accident claims
- Airplane accident claims
- Train accident claims
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputation injuries
- Burn injuries
- Dog bite injuries
- Work-related injuries
- Premises liability claims (most commonly: slip and fall accidents)
- Product liability claims
- Dangerous drug injuries
- Medical malpractice claims
- Birth injury claims
- Nursing home abuse and neglect claims
- Wrongful death claims
If you have suffered physical injuries, emotional distress, and/or financial loss in any of the aforementioned situations, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim.
Can You File a Personal Injury Claim Without a Lawyer?
Technically, yes, you can file a personal injury claim without a lawyer, but this is highly discouraged unless you’re very well familiar with the civil legal process as well as your state and local laws. Even then, it’s still a risky move due to how much is at stake for you.
Civil lawsuits are very complicated and have strict rules and timelines that you must abide by, or you could lose your chances of recovering money from the negligent party. Additionally, there are expensive legal fees involved, which a personal injury law firm will often handle (and then will later take a portion out of your awarded compensation once the case is settled). Not to mention, if you have recently survived a major accident and are trying to handle your own civil lawsuit while recovering, your stress levels will be off the charts.
Hiring a personal injury attorney will solve all of these problems and make your life a lot less complicated while you’re recovering from an accident.
Situations Where You May Not Need a Lawyer
With that being said, there are a few situations where you may be able to handle your own personal injury claim.
You Have Minor or No Injuries From an Auto Accident
Arguably the most common type of cases that the average personal injury lawyer handles are car accident cases. But not every car accident results in catastrophic injuries, irreparable vehicle damage, and death. Many car accidents are mere fender benders that result in either no injuries or minor injuries, such as bruising, small lacerations, and neck strain. Some car accident victims don’t even need to seek medical attention, they just need to rest and recover at home for a few days.
In cases like this, all you need to do is file a claim with your insurance company (or the at-fault party’s insurance company) and recover compensation for vehicle damage. Most people do this without needing to consult a lawyer at all.
You Reside in a No-Fault State
Let’s briefly cover the difference between at-fault states and no fault states. In an at-fault state, the negligent driver’s insurance company is required to provide liability coverage for the other party involved in the accident. In a no fault state, all drivers are required to recover compensation from their own insurance policies, regardless of whether or not they caused the accident.
If you’re in a no fault state, there is no need to negotiate with the other party’s insurance company which can lead to problems, especially if the insurance company refuses to pay up for whatever reason. Therefore, there is really no need to hire a lawyer to handle a no fault claim. Of course, if you get into a severe auto accident due to someone else’s negligence and suffer catastrophic injuries, you may want to file a lawsuit because your own PIP policy won’t cover enough of the damages you suffered.
You’re Receiving Maximum Compensation
When some sort of accident occurs, you will only receive compensation up to the insurance policy’s limit. So if the other driver in an accident has a policy limit of $50,000, and you receive a fair settlement offer of $50,000 from the insurance adjuster, you are recovering maximum compensation. If you want more than $50,000, you will be requesting money straight from the other driver’s pocket, which may not be useful to you and could be financially devastating for the other driver if they don’t have a lot of money. Unless you have suffered severe injuries and financial distress from exorbitant medical costs, it might be best for you to accept the insurance claim settlement and avoid further legal stress.
You Have Strong Negotiation Skills
One of the main reasons why people reach out to personal injury attorneys, especially in car crash cases, is because they need help negotiating fair compensation from insurance claims adjusters. It’s very common for victims to get “low-balled” after their accident out of the insurance company’s interests, and not theirs. People who are unfamiliar with these common insurance tactics may just accept less than they deserve, or want to request more money but don’t have the negotiation skills to do so. In situations like this, hiring a personal injury attorney can be extremely beneficial.
On the other hand, if you’ve been through the wringer with claims adjusters before and you know exactly how to advocate for yourself after an accident, then you may not need legal support at all.
You’re Knowledgeable About the Civil Legal Process
If you’re familiar with the civil legal process or you’re very comfortable with thoroughly researching your own case and defending yourself, you may not need the help of a personal injury attorney. There are countless legal resources out there on the world wide web that can give you a good idea of how to handle your own personal injury case, as long as it’s not too complex. Be sure to read up on fault rules and liability in your own state, state laws that may be relevant to your case, and types of compensation that you may be eligible to recover.
When To Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Some accidents and injuries are so severe that hiring a personal injury attorney is a necessity not only for the sake of legal protection, but for being justly compensated as well.
You Have Major Injuries
As a general rule of thumb, if you endure any accident that leaves you with serious injuries or permanent disabilities, you should hire a personal injury attorney immediately. If not, you will have to find a way to deal with your own medical bills, lost wages, and other damages which can easily lead the average middle class American to bankruptcy. A personal injury lawsuit can help you recover enough compensation to avoid further physical, emotional, and financial distress.
Some injuries appear minor at first. For example, you get into a car crash and you think you’ve come out relatively unscathed. For a couple days following the accident, you have severe abdominal pain that won’t go away no matter how much you rest or how much Ibuprofen you take. Eventually, you begin vomiting blood and struggling to breathe, so you head to the ER and discover that you’ve suffered seat belt syndrome from your accident, which requires emergency medical treatment.
Situations like this are very common, where catastrophic injuries appear hours or days after an accident (referred to as latent injuries) and the victim now has thousands of dollars of medical expenses to deal with on top of lost wages. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is strongly recommended for victims suffering from latent injuries.
You’re Eligible for Pain and Suffering Damages
Traumatic accidents and injuries usually lead to significant emotional distress and physical pain and suffering, for which victims should be justly compensated for. Not only can significant physical and emotional pain disrupt your entire life, they can also lead to thousands of dollars in counseling and even psych ward hospitalization costs. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you prove the extent of your suffering, and calculate an exact monetary value of damages you deserve for this suffering.
Call Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers at Curcio Law Offices Today
If you or a loved one has suffered a severe injury or wrongful death due to someone else’s negligence, you may have grounds to take legal action. Not only does the legal team at Curcio Law Offices have extensive knowledge of personal injury laws, but they also have decades of combined experience in fighting for the justice of their injured clients. Check out our case results here, and then call 312-321-1111 to schedule a free initial consultation at our personal injury law firm.