Each year, millions of injured Americans suffer someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior. When you or a loved one faces a long road to recovery through no fault of your own, you may be busy fielding calls from insurance claim representatives while medical bills and other injury-related expenses pile up, which can add stress to your everyday life.
You don’t have to go through this process alone. You may wonder if it is worth it to hire a personal injury attorney to help you manage your legal affairs while recovering from your injuries. An attorney can help you sort through what happened to you and ensure that the at-fault party is held financially and legally responsible for your injuries. Read on to learn more about the biggest benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney to protect your rights.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Prove a Negligence Case
It can be worth it to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you make your case. An attorney who helps clients pursue compensation for injuries and losses understands the laws and the complexities that can arise in these cases. They also understand the evidence you need to support your account of events and the four elements your case must satisfy to prove negligence took place.
These elements are:
- Duty of care: When an injury lawyer sets out to prove that negligence caused your injuries or losses, they must prove, based on the evidence in your case, that the defendant owed a duty of care to act reasonably to protect you from harm. For example, everyone operating a motor vehicle on the road has a duty of care to drive safely and follow all traffic laws. They assume this duty when they get behind the wheel.
- Breach of duty of care: Once the duty of care is established, your attorney must show how the defendant breached or violated this legal responsibility. For example, if a motorist runs a red light and strikes your car, this is a breach of duty. They failed to stop at the red light.
- Causation: This part of the process involves establishing how the defendant’s actions or inactions directly caused your injuries or losses. Going with the above example, if you suffered injuries and vehicle damage after the driver ran the red light and hit you, you can show how their action directly affected you.
- Damages: As a result of the collision, you suffered compensatory damages, such as accident-related medical bills, lost income due to missing time at work, pain and suffering, and other losses.
A personal injury lawyer can review your situation for these elements during a free consultation and advise you on your legal options and next steps. This conversation alone can help answer the question of whether it is worth it to hire a personal injury lawyer to manage your case.
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A Personal Injury Attorney Will Ensure You Meet Your Case’s Key Deadlines
Without the assistance of an attorney, a personal injury plaintiff can find it difficult to meet certain key deadlines that allow their lawsuit to proceed. Each personal injury claim has an “expiration date” known as the statute of limitations. If an injured plaintiff doesn’t file a lawsuit within this statute of limitations, the claim will be barred – even if the defendant’s liability is clear. In Florida, the statute of limitations for a negligence case is four years.
A Personal Injury Attorney Will File Your Insurance Claim or Lawsuit Correctly
There may be more than one statute of limitations that applies to your case, which can further complicate matters. In many cases, a defendant’s insurance policy may cover some of the damages attributable to the accident. Pursuing a claim against the insurance company for the at-fault driver is known as a third-party claim and is often subject to a shorter statute of limitations than a claim against your own insurance company. If you’re attempting to seek damages from your insurance company, this claim – known as a first-party claim – may be subject to yet another statute of limitations.
Another factor to consider is exactly when your claim accrued. In some cases, this can be as easy as identifying the time and date of a car accident or medical procedure that resulted in instant and apparent injuries. In other cases where the injury can develop quietly over a longer period, the statute of limitations only begins running when the plaintiff first discovers the injury.
A personal injury attorney is familiar with the various statutes of limitations that may apply to your claim. The lawyer you hire will act quickly to maintain and preserve your right to recover damages.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Work With Insurance Companies for You
Insurance companies, even your own, are motivated to settle claims for as little as possible. This reality, combined with the strong emotions you may be experiencing after an injury, can make it tough to engage in these negotiations on your own. A personal injury attorney can handle your first-party coverages (that is, the amount your own insurance company must pay to you) and third-party coverage (the amount owed by the defendant’s insurance company), giving you peace of mind and taking a major source of stress off your plate.
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A Personal Injury Lawyer Will Value Your Accident Claim Fairly
Personal injury judgments can sometimes make national headlines because of the jaw-dropping dollar amounts involved. However, in most of the millions of personal injury lawsuits filed each year, the plaintiff’s recovery – if any – is far more modest.
On the other end of the spectrum, some plaintiffs who are willing to settle for the defendant’s insurance company’s first offer are very likely leaving money on the table. In many cases, simply having your medical bills or lost wages covered won’t be enough, especially if you’re still dealing with injuries that may cause future problems. Because of this, it’s a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney to get a fair and realistic assessment of how much your claim is “worth.”
If you’re tempted to skip a legal consultation by relying on an online calculator to value your claim, you may want to think again. These calculators use aggregated data from other personal injury claims to assess the value of a generic claim. Because they have no way to account for the individual and unique circumstances of your claim, the number they produce is unlikely to have much, if any, relationship to any eventual settlement or judgment.
Hire a Trusted Personal Injury Attorney Who Can Help With a Your Case
Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means you aren’t obligated to pay them unless you recover damages from the defendant. This means if you or a loved one has been injured, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by consulting with a personal injury attorney. Before you decide, you can do your research to ensure it is worth it to hire a personal injury lawyer for your case.