Sure - you can negotiate your own personal injury claim. There is no law that says you have to hire a lawyer. But, just like you can change your brakes without being a mechanic or install a new roof on your house without being a roofer – some things are best left to the experts.
And, unlike hiring a mechanic or a roofer, you don’t have to pay anything upfront to have a personal injury attorney give you legal advice or start working on your case!
Louisiana Personal Injury Lawyers are paid by receiving a portion of the money they are able to win for you.
An attorney doesn’t just file personal injury lawsuits, they will do all the frustrating and time-consuming work like dealing with the insurance adjuster for you and collecting the needed medical records.
Additionally, most lawyers will front the costs of the case (like filing fees, expert costs, deposition costs, etc.) until the case is resolved.
If you choose to pursue your own case, you will be responsible for all costs, which sometimes run into the thousands of dollars.
Settling a Personal Injury Claim with an Insurance Company
Insurance companies are aware that individuals do not have the training or the legal skill necessary to file a lawsuit and try a case to a successful conclusion and as a result will often offer a significantly lower amount of money to someone trying to negotiate their own claim.
Without the legal skill and training, you may not accurately understand the value of your case or take into account all of your damages.
Damages for your accident claim include lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage costs, and sometimes punitive damages.
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you can likely negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company without an attorney:
- Does the accident have clear liability? In other words, is the other person clearly at fault in the car accident or incident?
- Did you have minimal injuries and treatment?
- Do you have no prior injury history?
- Did you have an immediate presentation of injuries? In other words, did your injuries show up right away?
- Were your injuries soft tissue only?
- Did you have no gaps in medical treatment? Did you obtain treatment quickly and consistently?
If you answered no to any of those questions, then it's probably in your best interest to at least consult with an attorney before negotiating or accepting a settlement offer.
If you can answer yes to every one of those questions, then you can most likely negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company without the help of an attorney. In those cases, an attorney will most likely not be able to obtain enough additional money for you to cover their fee.
If you want to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company yourself, start by reading all the articles on this blog – we have great advice about insurance adjuster tactics and what documentation you need to prove your case.
It is important to go into the negotiations with an idea of what your case is worth.