When to Get a Personal Injury Lawyer
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to hiring a personal injury lawyer. Whether you got involved in a car accident, slipped and fell at a grocery store, or fell victim to an act of medical malpractice, acting with a sense of urgency represents the best approach to contacting and eventually hiring a personal injury lawyer who specializes in handling your type of case. An attorney can provide legal support in many ways, with the most important way getting you the compensation that you deserve.
You have two primary ways to receive compensation: File an insurance claim and/or a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. In both cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer conducts an investigation to gather physical evidence and interview witnesses that verify your version of events. Your attorney reviews the official incident report to determine the cause of your injuries, as well as whether another party should assume legal liability for committing one or more acts of negligence. An experienced personal injury lawyer also can negotiate a favorable settlement, which represents the third way you can receive compensation to recover financial losses.
Although why you should hire a personal injury attorney consists of a long list of compelling reasons, when you should get a personal injury lawyer is not as clear cut. The best advice on when to get a personal injury lawyer is before you contact your insurance company and take legal action to recover financial losses. Far too many insurance companies take advantage of policyholders that do not retain legal representation. If you file an insurance claim without the legal support of a personal injury attorney, your insurance company might deny a valid claim or approve a claim that is valued far below what you deserve in compensation.
At Morgan and Morgan, we have represented clients in personal injury cases for more than 30 years. Since 1988, our highly-skilled litigators have recovered more than $15 billion in monetary damages for cases ranging from elder abuse to falling down stairs on private property. We help clients build persuasive insurance claims, file civil lawsuits that seek monetary damages, and negotiate settlements that keep cases out of the costly and time-consuming litigation process. Morgan and Morgan also assigns an experienced investigator to work with a personal injury lawyer during the investigation phase of the litigation and insurance claim processes.
Discover how an attorney from Morgan and Morgan can help you recover from the financial losses generated as the result of a personal injury incident by scheduling a free case evaluation.
When Should I Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Dealing with the aftermath of a personal injury incident can involve grappling with a wide variety of negative emotions. You also might experience confusion or even shock because of the seriousness of your injuries. Knowing how to respond after a personal injury incident helps you take control of your emotions, as well as know when to get a personal injury lawyer.
Receive Medical Care
Unless you sustained minor injuries such as cuts and abrasions, you should seek medical care immediately following a personal injury incident. Getting prompt medical care demonstrates the seriousness of your injuries. If you delay getting the right type of medical care, the insurance adjuster processing your claim might question the seriousness of your injuries. Receiving immediate care also lets the other party’s attorney know that you required medical attention right away after a personal injury incident.
If you sustained one or more minor injuries, you can remain at the scene of the personal injury incident to gather physical evidence and get the names and contact information of witnesses. However, you should eventually get medical care to treat minor injuries.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
The second step to take after a personal injury incident is when you need to get a personal injury lawyer. Hiring an attorney as close to the date of the personal injury incident as possible ensures you collect the physical evidence you need to build a strong insurance claim, as well as a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Your attorney reviews the formal incident report filed by either a law enforcement agency or a representative from a business or medical facility. Hiring a personal injury lawyer also helps you obtain additional evidence, such as the footage captured by a traffic or security camera.
An attorney also interviews witnesses to obtain the influential type of legal support that helps you receive just compensation for your injuries.
File an Insurance Claim
Although filing an insurance claim seems like a straightforward process, the fact is just one mistake on a claim form can lead the insurance company processing your claim to deny it. Hiring an experienced attorney helps you avoid making a mistake, whether it involves submitting inaccurate information and/or forgetting to fill out a section. A personal injury lawyer also ensures you include the convincing physical evidence you need to gain approval for compensation.
At Morgan and Morgan, our experienced personal injury attorneys have developed positive professional relationships with insurance adjusters across the United States.
File a Civil Lawsuit
Filing a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages typically occurs after you file an insurance claim. The reason for the order of the two actions is that preparing to file a personal injury lawsuit takes longer because of the amount of physical evidence required, as well as the time it takes to interview every witness. An attorney also helps you navigate the litigation process, which includes the discovery phase. The discovery phase allows both parties to exchange physical evidence and review the statements provided by witnesses.
Negotiations to reach a settlement usually unfold during the discovery phase of the litigation process.
What Is the Settlement Process?
A vast majority of personal injury cases do not reach the trial phase of the litigation process. Taking a case to trial can cost more than the value of the compensation awarded by a civil court judge. In addition, you might have to miss a significant amount of time from work, which might put you in a deeper financial hole.
The settlement process consists of three steps.
Calculate a Fair Value for Compensation
The most common reason why insurance adjusters and defendant attorneys reject settlement offers concerns the submission of unreasonable values for compensation. As the first step of the settlement process, your attorney calculates a fair value for compensation by first adding up every tangible expense, such as medical bills and the receipts from repairing property damage. Your personal injury lawyer also acquires copies of bank statements and employer timekeeping records to determine the value of lost wages.
Then, your attorney determines a value for non-economic damages, such as the costs associated with emotional distress issues like fear, anger, and anxiety. A traumatic personal injury incident can trigger symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which can produce lingering negative symptoms for several years.
Mail a Demand Letter
Sending a demand letter lets the other party know that you are serious about receiving just compensation to recover from financial losses. A demand letter should include the date and time of the personal injury incident. If you can not pinpoint a date and time, which happens sometimes for elder abuse and medical malpractice cases, then you should submit an estimate as to when you sustained one or more injuries as the result of at least one act of negligence. Submitting a detailed description of what transpired before, during, and after the personal injury incident helps the other party determine whether to accept your offer to negotiate a settlement.
An important section of a demand letter explains how your personal injury lawyer calculated a fair value for compensation.
Negotiating a settlement requires the finely honed skills of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your attorney submits the initial offer, which the other party can accept or reject. If the other party rejects the initial offer, you might receive a counteroffer or a formal legal notice that communicates the other party’s wishes to move forward in the litigation process. Several counteroffers can follow until both parties agree to a settlement or decide to take the case to the trial phase of the litigation process.
Your personal injury lawyer also can negotiate a settlement with the insurance adjuster processing your claim.
Why Is Timing Important When Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The longer you wait to hire a personal injury lawyer, the longer you have to wait to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. If you wait too long, you might pass the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit in the state where you live.
Every state has established a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Most states have set the deadline between two and four years, although a few states grant plaintiffs as long as six years and as short as one year to take legal action. The clock starts to tick on the filing of a personal injury lawsuit on the date of the incident. However, you might receive an extension if your attorney can prove you sustained one or more injuries that developed delayed symptoms. Injuries such as whiplash and concussions can develop symptoms that do not make an impact until a few days after a personal injury incident.
Acting with a sense of urgency is important to meet the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Nonetheless, you should be proactive for two more reasons. First, procrastinating can cause you to fall behind on paying off debts, such as medical bills. Some healthcare providers place medical liens on potential legal judgments that award monetary damages, but most healthcare providers send bills according to a regular schedule. The faster you file a persuasive personal injury lawsuit, the faster you might receive compensation to wipe out all personal debts. The second reason to act with a sense of urgency involves the reliability of witnesses. Witness statements tend to be more accurate the closer they are given to the date of a personal injury incident.
Now Is the Time to Contact Morgan and Morgan
Hesitating to get the legal support you deserve can be the difference between you receiving just compensation and falling into a deep financial hole. Act with a sense of urgency by scheduling a free case evaluation today with a personal injury lawyer from Morgan and Morgan.