Can I handle my personal injury case myself? Are you really asking me that question? Congratulations! At least you have taken the first step towards looking out for your own best interests. Frequently, those who have sustained injuries in an accident or incident, or who have been injured or made ill by a careless doctor or dentist, don’t ask this question, or at least not right away. These individuals are the ones who have absolutely no idea that by not even asking this question, they are almost guaranteeing themselves a bad result.
Although a degree, schooling, training, or experience is no guarantee that justice will be achieved, involving an experienced personal injury lawyer or medical or dental malpractice attorney in your case will substantially increase the odds of a fair result, and/or significant or substantial recovery. I am always amazed at the number of people whose first reaction upon being injured is to try to negotiate with the insurance company themselves, only to come to me later bewildered by the fact that they have received only a minimal offer of settlement or no offer at all. By this time many of those people have already said or written something which may result in limiting their recovery, even if they do ultimately retain an attorney.
These poor injured souls make me want to ask: What were you thinking? Don’t you know that we offer free consultations? You had nothing to lose by immediately contacting an attorney, Don’t you know that unless you retain us, we do not and cannot collect a fee from you? You can actually benefit from our knowledge and years of experience and THEN try to handle it yourself. Don’t you know that even if you retain us to represent you, we do not get paid unless there is money collected either by way of a settlement or a judgement? If we lose, we have worked for free. That’s quite an incentive.
I don’t ever really ask these questions. But I do try to explain the realities of personal injury litigation. I explain that the insurance company has no desire to compensate them at all. In over 30 years of practicing personal injury and medical malpractice law, I have only come across a handful of insurance adjusters who really had any empathy for my clients, no matter how severe the injuries were or how outrageous the wrongful conduct was. The insurance companies answer to their shareholders, not to you who have been dutifully paying your premiums for years. When you fail to get an attorney, they lick their chops knowing that they are now in control and can often get you to settle your case for a fraction of what it is worth. They can get you to sign a release so that no matter how bad your injuries get in the future or how devastating an impact these injuries may have on your life, you will never be able to be justly compensated again.
The lesson that should be learned is that if you are ever injured as a result of a negligent or wrongful act of another person or entity, contact an attorney immediately. It is never too early to seek their advice.
What you don’t know can and will hurt you.