If you have been injured in an accident, you are likely deciding whether it is worth getting a lawyer involved. If you’ve never hired a personal injury lawyer before, I understand that you may not know where to start. This article is not about who you should hire, but whether you should hire an attorney. In my experience handling injury claims for over twenty years, I believe that the following should be the analysis that you consider:
Did You Seek Medical Treatment?
One of the biggest factors for any personal injury lawyer to consider is when medical treatment was sought. This is important because the insurance companies value the claim based on when and where you went. For example, if you went to the hospital or to urgent care on the day of the accident, the case is valued more highly.
To the contrary, if you waited several days before getting treatment, the claim is worth less money. It doesn’t mean that the case is not worth money, just that it won’t be valued as highly. This is a common problem because most people do not need to go to a hospital or urgent care, but remain sore. After a few days, they decide to get checked out. If there is a delay in getting in to see a doctor more than a few days, then the case might not be worth pursuing. The insurance company will argue that if you waited that long to get help, then you couldn’t have been injured that badly. I’m not saying that I agree with the argument, but I just know how they think.
Are You in Legitimate Pain?
There is a difference between pain levels of 5-10 versus 1-4. Anything from 5-10 could be evidence of a permanent injury. If you go to a doctor and report low levels of pain like in the 1-4 range, treatment will be conservative and brief. That correlates to a low value case, which might not be worth pursuing. When thinking about hiring a personal injury lawyer, you must consider whether you have a legitimate injury. Just because you are in an accident, does not automatically mean that the insurance company is going to pay you money. But, constant dull or throbbing pain in the back or neck is a symptom that there is something wrong. Only an MRI (not an x-ray) will be able to tell what is truly wrong.
Do You Have the Time to Go to Treatment?
Part of the value of every case is the amount of treatment that someone receives. You must be prepared before starting a personal injury claim that you will be required to follow your doctor’s advice. That could mean 2-3 days of treatment a week, getting MRIs, and multiple follow-up appointments. It is a legitimate time commitment that not everyone can do.
But, the way to get better is to get the treatment. The way to increase the value of the case is to get treatment. If your job and family requirements are such that you cannot commit to getting treatment, then perhaps hiring a personal injury attorney is not for you.
Do You Have Transportation to Get Treatment?
Just as important as having the time for treatment, you must also be able to get to the appointments. Fortunately, most of the doctors that we work with will provide Uber rides to and from treatment. While getting a ride isn’t the most convenient, the lack of a car should never be a reason for not getting the medical attention that you need. All you need to do is to ask for help.
Have You Been in Prior Accidents With Injuries?
One of the factors in every personal injury case is the cause of the injury. It is an analysis that every personal injury attorney and every insurance company does. There is a big difference between the value of a new injury versus the aggravation of an old injury. One of the questions that you will be asked is whether you have been in any prior accidents. If you had the same injuries in a previous accident, that will be considered an aggravation of a prior injury and be worth much less. This does not mean that you should not pursue a claim, it is just a factor you should consider. In every case, we will try to pull the old diagnostic tests and compare them to the new ones. If there are new injuries compared to the old films, then the issue is a moot point. Often, we simply do not know until we have the scans and MRIs performed.
Is The Insurance Company Giving You Answers?
It has been my experience that one of the most common reasons why people hire a personal injury lawyer is because of problems with an insurance company. I constantly hear reports of delays and excuses. If you suspect that something is wrong, follow your gut instinct and call a lawyer for help. There should be no reason why there is a delay in their investigation unless your insurance company drops the ball or someone is contesting the accident. I like to be involved early on in the claim so that the information provided to the insurance company is accurate and prompt.
If You Were In a Car Accident, Was There Damage?
Another huge factor for every car accident claim is the amount of damage to the vehicle. The property damage is a factor that every personal injury attorney wants to know before taking a case. I request pictures of the damage from my clients because I know that this is the first thing that insurance companies look at. If the car only has minor damage, it is more likely that the insurance company will fight any claims of serious injuries. This is a factor that every client must consider before setting up a claim or hiring a lawyer. Simply put, the pictures are really important.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you would like to discuss whether you should hire an attorney, my consultations are free of charge. I will give you an honest opinion about whether the case is worthwhile to pursue. While your health is always the priority, there are many other factors that should be discussed such as risk, your time, and your inconvenience. Before taking on a case, I like to be on the same page as my clients. I hope that this article will help in your decision making process.