Do I need a Personal Injury Attorney?
Most personal injury victims focus on the need for immediate medical care immediately after an injury. As time goes on, that focus may change from finding a doctor to finding an attorney. When this happens, personal injury victims often wonder whether it is worth hiring a Personal Injury Attorney. This is a legitimate question you should ask yourself. However, in most circumstances the benefits of hiring a Personal Injury Attorney far outweigh the costs. Let’s take a look at some ways attorney’s add value your case.
- Recovery Value
- Repayment Reduction
- Legal Value
- No Fees or Costs If No Recovery
The most common concern injury victims have is whether an attorney will add value in their case. This is a legitimate concern and one that requires complex analysis. There is a lot of wrong information out there that can mislead you or damage your case. For example, there is no rule that your damages are 1.5 – 3 times your medical bills. Injury victims who rely on this when handling their case on their own may resolve for far less than fair value.
Example: A prior injury client of mine was involved in a rear end collision. His past medical history made him susceptible to further injury with trauma. While his medical bills were only around $20,000.00, I was able to recover $250,000.00. Had my client attempted to handle the case on his own and relied on 3 times the meds as recovery value, he would have only recovered $60,000.00 – a difference of $190,000.00!*
Attorneys can offer significant value. Experience, reputation, analytical ability, aggressiveness and strategic ability all factor into the attorney’s value. However, a good attorney can significantly increase the value of your case. In a 1999 study by the Insurance Research Council found that personal injury victims who hire attorneys received 40% higher settlements on average than personal injury victims who chose to handle their claim on their own.
Injury victims can handle their claims on their own. However, if they do, many will receive a significantly lower financial recovery.
Another benefit to hiring a Personal Injury Attorney is in the reduction of the amount a injury victim must repay at the end of their case. Believe it or not, medical treatment is not free. At the end of your case there are expenses which must be paid. Common expenses, other than attorney expenses, include insurance liens and medical bills.
Insurance is a contract between you and your insurance company. The insurance policy, together with any riders or addendums, make up the insurance contract. The Declarations Page describes the certain coverages you have contracted for.
Insurance can be a good thing. It helps pay medical bills if you are sick without you having to pay it back. However, when you have been injured and receive a recovery from an at-fault party, the insurance contract may provide that the insurance company is entitled to be paid back for the amounts it paid. This is called subrogation and it is common in most insurance policies.
While this may be common in most policies, insurers still must comply with various statutes in order to enforce their rights. Florida Statute §768.76 is one such statute. It provides that upon proper notice, a response asserting a right to subrogation must be raised. If not raised in 30 days, the right is waived.
In addition to statutes that can result in waiver of the right to repayment, others dictate when insurance companies must reduce their repayment amounts or take away the ability to collect them altogether. For example, Florida Statute §440.39(3) limits when workers compensation insurance can seek repayment for amounts paid. One such limitation, as explained in Volk v. Gallopo, is that workers compensation is not entitled to any amounts stemming from an uninsured motorist recovery.
The amounts an insurance company may ask to be repaid can be very significant. Depending on the injuries or types of treatment, insurance companies can easily ask for repayment of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is another area where Personal Injury Attorneys can be extremely valuable if they know the law (not all may). Injury victims who try to handle their case on their own are very likely to repay more than they need. This will result in lower net settlement values.
Insurance will usually pay some portion of your bills but there may be portions which are your responsibility. When it comes to personal injury victims, more extensive treatment generally results in larger medical debt incurred. However, Personal Injury Attorneys can often work to reduce your medical debt.
Generally speaking, treating doctors recognize you were injured and are sympathetic to your situation. Facing the prospect of large medical bills which reduce your recovery significantly can be a slap in the face. This is part of the reason doctors may be willing to reduce their bills. However, whether a doctor will and by how much is often based on a lot of factors. A Personal Injury Attorney should be able to analyze your case and may approach a medical provider with a fair offer to resolve your debt for less than the total amount owed.
Law degrees and experience matters. Most injury victims never attended law school and google research alone usually proves to be incorrect, incomplete or misleading. A Personal Injury Attorney may be able to bring a wealth of information and legal knowledge to the table. Their analysis of the case may prove invaluable at getting the case resolved and/or winning at trial.
Personal Injury Attorneys offer immense help when it comes to determining case values, liability and how to frame your claim(s). Consideration must be given regarding the applicable law and insurance coverages. Pleading a cause incorrectly may result in having your lawsuit dismissed. Even if it is not, you may find an insurance company excluding coverage for the event requiring you to seek compensation from the responsible party personally.
Example: I once represented a dog bite victim who was bit while in a public area. When we were unable to resolve out of court I filed a lawsuit. Once the lawsuit had been filed, both parties engaged in discovery. As a result of what both parties were able to learn and the causes of actions pled, the case settled for 5 times the “top offer” the insurance company made before we filed a lawsuit.*
Should you choose to handle your case on your own you risk resolving your case for less than full value by being unable to legally analyze your claims and the potential causes of action.
Another area Personal Injury Attorneys offer value is in their investigation of your case. After you have been injured it is important to begin an investigation as quickly as possible. Memories of witnesses will fade over time and items relevant to your injury claim may be lost or destroyed.
Personal Injury Attorneys begin the investigative process immediately and work to ensure that items relevant to your injury claim are properly secured so that they can be examined if needed. There are many cases in which evidence may need to be secured for later use. These include:
- Car Accidents
- Trucking Accidents
- Trip and Falls
- Slip and Falls
- Premise Liability
- Negligent Maintenance
- Negligent Security
- Products Liability
- Wrongful Death
Individuals who handle their own claims often fail to properly secure necessary evidence related to their claims. As a result, evidence can be permanently lose or destroyed. The loss or destruction of evidence which results in being unable to prove your case can be devastating if you did not properly move to secure the same.
NOTHING OUT OF POCKET
Injury victims sometimes worry about the cost of hiring a Personal Injury Attorney, especially if there is not recovery. Personal Injury Attorneys are contingency fee attorneys. This means we are not paid anything until we make a recovery for you. Once we make a recovery, either through settlement or trial, we are paid out of the amount recovered. If you do not make a recovery, you do not pay us back. This includes our fees and our costs – such as payments to experts.
Without nothing out of pocket to pay for, you can breathe a little easier about the financial costs of hiring a Personal Injury attorney and focus on some of the other items mentioned above.
An injury and the burden it places on someone is never something someone wants. Daily pain, increased medical debt, isolation due to restrictions, and many other issues place increased stress on injury victims. However, injury victims have a choice when it comes to pursuing the at-fault party responsible for their injuries – pursue with a Personal Injury Attorney, pursue on their own, or do not pursue at all.
If an injury victim chooses to pursue their claim, careful consideration needs to be given as to who they wish to retain or whether they want to handle the claim on their own. While some injury victims will decide handling their claim on their own will result in higher net settlement values, this may not be the case. This is especially true with the more treatment an injury victim receives.
Personal Injury Attorneys bring value to an injury victims case. How much value they bring depends on a variety of factors in your case and how much knowledge the Personal Injury Attorney has. However, using the right Personal Injury Attorney in your case should prove worth it.
GET YOUR FREE INJURY CASE REVIEW TODAY
If you have been injured, contact Presser Law for a free case review with an attorney to determine your legal rights. For over 10 years I have represented injury victims throughout Central Florida in their times of need and I would be honored to help you as well.
For more information or to speak with a lawyer about your legal rights following an injury, call 407.216.2000, email me at Justin@FindYourJustice.com.
Presser Law, P.A. is a Central Florida injury firm proudly serving all injury victims throughout Central Florida residents of Brevard County, Lake County, Orange County, Osceola County, Seminole County, and Volusia County.
Presser Law, P.A. was founded on the idea that injury victims deserve aggressive and straight forward representation to help them through some of their most difficult times. “Fighting for Justice. Fighting for You.” is more than a motto. It is our promise and reminder to our client’s that we will be with them, fighting to make sure they receive the compensation they deserve.
* Same or similar results cannot be guaranteed. The results stated are before deduction for attorney’s fees and costs, such as expert witnesses, and payment of medical bills incurred by our clients.
** Not all attorneys who practice personal injury know the cases or statutes that can help personal injury victims lower the repayment amounts. Be sure you research your attorney prior to signing.
Justin Presser - author
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