More than 2 million people within the U.S. are injured each year in auto accidents. If you have been involved in a car accident and were not at fault in the incident, you may have already decided to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. Still, you may have heard that you can receive a higher payout by representing yourself.
Here are a few reasons why self-representation during an automotive accident case is not your best option.
Insurance Companies Are Crafty
Insurance representatives are trained to protect their employer from large payouts to accident victims. These employees tend to be crafty, and they may use tactics that an accident victim is unfamiliar with, such as the following:
- Requesting the victim's signature on vague documents. Adjusters may show up soon after an accident to request that the victim sign documents filled with legal jargon. Unaware of details within the paperwork, an unwitting victim may sign documentation that forfeits the pursuit of any additional compensation.
- Offering the victim a lump sum payoff. Insurance representatives may offer a victim a payment to cover existing medical bills. However, compensation for future accident-related medical services and psychological suffering may be neglected.
- Recording the victim's statement. Insurance company representatives may ask to record an accident victim's recollection of how the accident occurred. The victim is generally unaware that the information in the recording will be used to justify a reduction in compensation.
- Interviewing the victim. Like an audio recording of the victim's statement, the answers given during an interview with an insurance representative are used to discredit the victim.
Personal Injury Attorneys are Knowledgeable and Experienced
Knowledge and experience are needed to counter the tactics of insurance companies. Personal injury attorneys are knowledgeable about personal injury law and accustomed to negotiating with insurance companies. They understand that the first offer from an insurer is rarely the best offer. In addition, they are not intimidated by threats to take the case to court.
Attorneys know that meetings between the insurer's representative and the accident victim rarely work in the victim's favor. As a result, the lawyers handle the communications on behalf of the victim that they represent.
Victims Rarely Have Experience Filing Documents and Meeting Court Requirements
Whether required legal documents are prepared by a victim or a seasoned personal injury attorney, they must be prepared correctly and timely in order to win a personal injury case. If the documents are not completed in the proper manner, the case could be delayed or dismissed.
In addition, proper protocol must be followed in court. Court officials may be lenient at first when dealing with a self-representing victim. However, consistent noncompliance with court rules and processes could end in a case's dismissal.
Victims Who Self-Represent Receive Less Compensation
If the victim's main reason for self-representing is to save money, he or she may not realize that only a personal injury attorney is likely to obtain the maximum compensation for a personal injury claim. In fact, a study conducted in 1999 indicated that victims represented by an attorney received 3.5 times the compensation as those who self-represented. Additionally, since most attorneys work for a contingency fee, the victim often has no upfront out-of-pocket expense for the legal services provided.
Self-Representing Victims Have to Reimburse Medical Providers on Their Own
Hospitals and other medical providers that treat an accident victim must be paid out of the victim's compensation if the providers have not been reimbursed by an insurer or other payer. Additionally, if the victim's automotive or medical insurer has already paid for services rendered to the victim, the insurer must be reimbursed.
These payments may seem minor, but the tracking of billing statements can become overwhelming for an injured victim throughout a lengthy legal battle. A personal injury case may take years to settle.
If you have been injured in an automotive accident, contact Doherty Law Offices, S.C. to schedule a consultation.