are wondering this very question. If so, be advised that there are certain ways in which
personal injury lawyers could help you, including the following.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
If you haven’t already gotten one, it won’t be long until you receive a telephone call from your insurance company. You may have been paying the company for years and have had a friendly relationship with your agent. Do not take this to mean that the insurance adjustor is on your side. That person’s job is to ask questions in such a manner that your answers relieve them from all liability. It’s a dirty trick, but one that is used all too often.
After you’ve hired counsel, insurance adjustors are not able to speak with you without going through your personal accident attorney first. This provides you with many advantages. Not only will you not be caught off guard, but you will also be better prepared to answer the onslaught of questions that follow.
Aside from your initial statement, there may be other times when you will need to contact your insurance company. Interestingly enough, representatives are often hard to get ahold of or fail to provide their clients with the right information. These same people are less likely to give attorneys the same type of run-around.
Helping you Prove Negligence
It’s not always clear who is at fault in a car accident. If you’ve been injured, you’ll need to prove that the other person was negligent in some way. Negligence involves four elements, all of which must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not that certain events happened. The four elements of negligence are:
• Duty: Did the other person have a duty to act responsibly?
• Breach: Did that individual breach his or her duty?
• Causation: Was the breach of duty a direct cause of the accident?
• Damages: Have you suffered damages as a result?
The personal injury help you receive from an attorney goes far beyond dealing with insurance companies as it can also help you prove negligence by:
• Interviewing witnesses and taking their depositions
• Reviewing accident reports
• Looking at photos or other evidence
• Visiting the accident site to get a feel for what happened
• Having an expert witness reconstruction the accident scene
It’s not enough just to prove liability. As mentioned, you must have incurred damages as a result of an accident. Proving damages is not as simple as one might think, especially if there are pre-existing conditions. For example, if you have had back problems in the past it can be hard to assert that your condition is now much worse following the accident.
Fortunately, the personal injury lawyers know what to look for when it comes to medical records. As such, they are often able to detect when records are incomplete or contain inaccurate information. In these instances, they make it a practice to follow up and ensure all records are obtained in a timely manner.
Contacting your Physician
There may be times when law firms need more specific information than what is written in your doctor’s notes. If so, they will contact your physician and ask for a letter stating the physician’s professional opinion on:
• Whether or not the accident was the cause of your illness or disability
• How long you will likely be affected
• What type of treatments are recommended
When getting a doctor’s letter, time if often of the essence. As such, they make sure that requests are submitted in a timely manner and carefully keep track of deadlines to see that nothing is left hanging.
Negotiating a Settlement
Not all personal injury lawsuits end up on court as the majority are settled before going to trial. In the beginning, an insurance company may offer you a very small settlement hoping that you will take it. If you refuse the first offer, the next one will probably be a little bigger and so will the next one after that.
At some point, you will have to decide whether to accept an offer, provide a counter offer, or refuse it altogether. Each time you turn down an offer you are gambling on the fact that a better offer will be forthcoming. You also run the risk of the other side getting frustrated and refusing to negotiate any further.
A personal accident attorney is especially helpful when it comes to negotiating a settlement. Your lawyer has probably handled similar cases in the past and therefore has a pretty good idea what yours is worth. An attorney will also know the strengths and weaknesses of your case inside and out. As such, he or she can advise you whether or not you should accept an offer or risk taking the matter to court.
Negotiating with Lien Holders
Following your accident, you may have applied for disability or worker’s compensation insurance. Once those companies start paying, they automatically become lien holders by default. What this means is that you will have to repay any money you receive from them out of your settlement. If you are off work for an extended period, this amount can really add up.
Naturally you will want to keep as much of your settlement money as possible. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to give back a big chunk of those funds right off the top? There’s a chance you won’t have to pay all of that money back, provided your attorney is able to negotiate a settlement. Many companies are willing to reduce their claim if only they are asked to. This means you will have more money left over to pay other bills with.
Involved in an Accident? Contact a PI Law Firm
Professional personal injury help isn’t always needed, but having a lawyer can nonetheless take a great deal of stress away. If you are struggling with recovering damages, contact a law firm to get help right away.