Do I Need a Lawyer?
People frequently ask: “Do I need a lawyer or personal injury attorney to handle my accident claim?”
And: “Since I wasn’t at fault, why should I pay legal fees to an attorney?”
Also: “Can I directly negotiate a settlement with the insurance company?”
The answers to your question ― Do I need a lawyer? ― depend upon the facts surrounding your claim. For example:
- Were you, a family member, or other passengers injured?
- Were you injured while riding in a taxi or was a taxi responsible for the accident that caused your injuries?
- There are five elements for a case of negligence that must be met. Do you know what these elements are and can you prove each element?
- Were there multiple parties responsible for your injuries? If so, from whom would you seek compensation for damages?
- Are you familiar with the rules of civil procedure? Are you well-versed in tort claim court opinions and legislation within the jurisdiction that may affect your claim?
In this article we will explore:
- How do at-fault states differ from no-fault states?
- Claims for property damage only.
- Can you negotiate your own claim?
- The possible perils of settling with an insurance company.
- What you don’t know can hurt you.
- If there were injuries, when should you hire a lawyer?
- Download attorney Charlie Ward’s free e-book, Why do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for My Accident Claim?
Did the accident occur in an at-fault or no-fault state?
Indiana is an “at-fault” state. What does this mean? If your accident occurred in Indiana, the party or parties at fault for the accident, are responsible for the damages. Unlike our “no-fault” neighbors ― Kentucky and Michigan ― liability for an accident claim usually falls upon the at-fault driver’s automobile insurance policy. If the at-fault driver (aka defendant) has no insurance, or the policy limits fall short of the total sum of incurred damages, the injured’s uninsured/underinsured automobile policy may become a source of compensation―depending upon the facts of the claim, of course. However, exceptions to this rule sometimes occur—particularly when the driver has insurance from a no-fault state. Ward & Ward Law Firm strongly recommends you discuss the facts of your case with an Indiana personal injury attorney to learn how no-fault claims are customarily handled in the state of Indiana.
Do I need a lawyer for a property damage claim?
Generally speaking, negotiating a property damage claim without the complexities of physical injuries, is fairly straightforward and may often be handled directly with the insurer. Claims agents, generally speaking, rely upon industry standards to estimate and value property damage claims. If you have doubts that you are being treated fairly by an insurance claims agent, contact your Indiana personal injury attorney to discuss.
Can I negotiate my own settlement?
“It has been my experience, says attorney Charlie Ward, that injury clients receive better settlements and increased compensation for injuries, past and future wage losses, past and future medical, and pain & suffering when an experienced personal injury attorney directs their case.”
Having said that, there will always be people who elect to negotiate their own settlement without the benefit of legal representation. But before heading down this road – know this:
Contracts between the insured and the insurer are authored by in-house attorneys, and frought with conditions that favor the underwriter. An insurance company’s only legal obligation is to fulfill the basic terms of their contract.
How complicated can a settlement be?
Tying up the costly loose ends of an injury claim is what personal injury lawyers do best! Each case has a life of its own and is won or lost on many fronts. For example, the expression―“to prepare a case”―accurately foretells that within the execution of a legal claim, lie a number of moving parts.
For instance, did you know that upon settlement of your claim…
- You may be required to reimburse your auto insurance company for medical bills?
- You may be required to reimburse your health insurance company for medical payments.
- The hospital may put a lien on your settlement for hospital charges, only to come back later and demand payment in full.
- Old injuries can intensify with age. Have you been adequately compensated for future medical treatments, therapy, surgeries, or a reduction of wages?
As shown above, there are many facets to a claim for injuries. And each building block of a well-prepared case operates simultaneously, as the case moves forward to its conclusion. Unfortunately, it so happens that some people seek a legal professional only after they have painted themselves into a corner. But by that time, the opportunity to correct the course of events has passed. So what can that mean for you? In certain instances, the injured party (also known as the plaintiff ) may be barred from further action.
Why do I need a lawyer to represent my claim for injuries?
Simply put, “The insurance company is not your friend!”
The following examples illustrate a few of the pitfalls that befall individuals who learn this only when it is too late:
- Firstly, a claims agent may deny your claim. This can go on to the point when the statute of limitations runs on your case. But an experienced lawyer knows how and when to push forward.
- Secondly, if an insurance company delays discussing the settlement of your claim, they may also be running the clock on the statute of limitations. Most experienced personal injury attorneys will not take a case that is perilously approaching the statute of limitations. Why? Because it takes time to investigate and adequately prepare a claim for litigation.
- Does the insurance company claim you were partially at fault? If so, would this reduce your compensation? And by what percentage?
- Thirdly, when you sign a release with one insurance company, you may unwittingly have closed the doors to additional necessary compensation. An experienced Indianapolis, IN auto accident lawyer knows how to maximize your compensation.
- And fourthly, since the defending lawyers know that you don’t know, what you don’t know ― your lack of legal knowledge may be played out against you.
When do I need a lawyer?
When injuries make it necessary to seek medical treatment, you need a competent and experienced legal advocate to protect your rights.
You don’t know, what you don’t know!
In his book, Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for My Accident Claim? Indiana personal injury lawyer and wrongful death attorney, Charlie Ward, addresses the most frequently asked questions about accident claims in the state of Indiana.
Charlie Ward’s book, Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for My Accident Claim? will answer other questions such as:
- Why should I hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent me in my accident claim?
- What qualities should I look for in a personal injury attorney?
- Can I recover money for injuries from more than one insurance policy?
- Is my insurance company my friend?
- How much does it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for My Accident Claim? includes a BONUS CHAPTER explaining how various coverages protect you and your family:
- What are the insurance requirements to legally drive in the state of Indiana?
- Will the minimum legal auto insurance protect me and my family?
- What is the difference between uninsured and underinsured coverage?
- Are there any types of coverage I can and should waive?
- How much liability insurance is enough?
And Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for My Accident Claim? explains how a low-cost umbrella insurance policy can maximize your compensation for your damages.
What can a personal injury attorney do for you that you can’t do yourself?
- An experienced personal injury attorney will protect your rights at every step.
- A personal injury attorney will build a case- block by block, to maximize their client’s claim.
- A client-focused personal injury attorney keeps their clients informed
- A competent injury lawyer knows the law, reads higher court opinions, and stays up-to-date on legislation that may affect client compensation
To summarize in a single sentence, if auto insurance companies hire defense attorneys, shouldn’t you also have the best Indianapolis car accident lawyer representing your interests as well?
If you have been injured in an accident, don’t wait to consult with an attorney. Call Charlie Ward of Ward & Ward Law Firm today for an honest assessment of your case and a free consultation without obligation.
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