It’s true that you might be able to save on legal fees if you negotiate your own claim settlement for personal injury. However, you should ensure that you are prepared before you even attempt it.
If the fault of the other side is pretty clear or your injuries are relatively minor, then it may make more economic sense to negotiate your own personal injury settlement. However, we recommend you get start a free consultation with a personal injury attorney near you. You can find the most popular attorneys using our directory, among them the Hawk Law Group in South Caroline and South Florida lawyer Matthew Waring with Waring Law.
There are some tips you should know about when trying to figure out the damages owed to you. Key issues that need to be factored in include evidence of liability, potential negligence on your side and availability of insurance coverage.
When Should You Self-represent?
It is possible to represent yourself in a personal injury claim and get satisfaction, especially if you have some experience in handling your own legal cases, and you are willing and able to stand up for yourself. Two key factors that should be considered, however, including how serious the injuries are and how cut-and-dried the fault of the other party is.
The Seriousness of the Injury
If you got a minor injury, the offending party often won’t complain much and will likely offer you a quick settlement. However, if the accident was more serious and involved medical bills, lost income, and substantial pain and suffering, it might make more sense to discuss things with an injury attorney. Significant damages imply higher stakes for everyone.
How Clear Is It That the Other Party Was at Fault?
If the fault of the other party is obvious and you have witnesses who are willing to testify on your behalf, proving fault on your own is easier to do. However, sometimes, things can be more complicated, especially if the injury is severe. The defense may even try to make it look like the injury was entirely your fault. Again, it makes more sense to hire a lawyer in this case.
What Steps Should You Take?
Here are some things you should consider doing before you send a demand letter to the other party:
- Take photos of the scene of the accident, any damaged property, and any injuries
- Get a copy of the police report for the case
- Get the necessary medical treatment
- If you have any personal injury protection insurance coverage, use it to pay your initial bills before you resort to health insurance. Keep copies of all bills and records
- Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company representing the other party under any circumstances
- Remember that there are time limits to your claim and that they vary by state, so make sure you understand them
- Do not write anything about the accident on social media as this information can be taken out of context by the other side to damage your case.
There are generally two types of damages you will experience in a personal injury case: damages that can be calculated exactly, such as lost earnings, medical bills and financial losses directly attributed to the accident are the first. The second type consists of damages that cannot be calculated exactly, also known as general damages. These include mental anguish and personal suffering. While the first example can be estimated on your own easily with the help of well-kept records and bills, the second type will need an experienced injury lawyer to help you argue your case.
The Importance of a Lawyer
There are many more nuances involved, including the right timing for writing the demand letter, how to negotiate the settlement and when to accept a settlement. Many of these will be best handled by a lawyer, although you could handle them yourself if you had experience in legal matters. Our recommendation is to always use a lawyer in personal injury cases. They will bring many more benefits than they cost.