If you are a millennial, you are accustomed to going on line in order to learn how to do things yourself. Older generations would not consider preparing their own wills, drafting contracts or setting up their own corporations. These services were usually only performed by lawyers. Today it is very common for young people to find DIY legal forms on line and bypass the lawyer’s office.
This blog is not intended to address the wisdom of using online forms for wills and legal transactions without the benefit of legal training. However, it is important to mention that there are enormous risks in doing this. It is what you do not know that can cause you great harm.
This blog is specifically addressing the practice of trying to handle your own auto accident case without hiring an attorney. Personal injury lawyers typically charge a contingent fee. This means that their fee is a percentage of the total recovery. Although this fee can be very substantial it is well worth it to retain counsel and pay this fee.
One benefit of the contingent fee is that your lawyer shares a common interest in getting the largest recovery possible as quickly as possible. When you pay a lawyer a percentage of the recovery, you never need be concerned that your lawyer is working hours simply to spin the clock and send a huge bill at the end of the month. When it comes to the fee, your interest is aligned with your lawyer. Another benefit is that you need not go out of pocket to pay a lawyer without knowing the total fee you will pay and whether the recovery will be sufficient to reimburse you.
But, why pay any fee? Why not just handle your accident yourself?
The undeniable answer is that you will almost assuredly pocket far less money for your case if you try to do it alone. If you speak directly to an insurance adjuster to try to negotiate your own settlement, they will always offer a fraction of what they would offer an attorney. In order to negotiate the best settlement, there must be risk to the insurance company that if they do not settle a lawsuit will be filed. If you call to try to settle yourself, they do not have the fear of an impending lawsuit. The only real benefit to offering anything is that if you accept the pittance they are offering, they can close their file and eliminate the risk that you might come to your senses and hire a lawyer in the future.
Insurance adjusters know the value of your case based on information you cannot have access to online. They know what juries are awarding in your community for similar injuries. They know whether the doctor you treated with is a good witness and whether your doctor will even agree to testify. They will never put their best offer on the table when dealing with an unrepresented party. Adjusters are professional negotiators and more skillful than car salesmen. Plus they must hold money back just in case you do decide to hire a lawyer at which time they will need to increase their offer substantially.
Not only should you engage a lawyer, but you should do it early. A lawyer will take steps to preserve evidence. This could include hiring a private investigator to locate witnesses and view and record the scene of the accident. The lawyer will advise you to treat with Doctors who can not only help you recover, but also will be willing to testify on your behalf and understand laws that apply to accidents. The lawyer will monitor your treatment and know the best and most appropriate time to settle your case.
Millennials are an incredibly resourceful generation. But, part of resourcefulness is understanding one’s own limitations. Some things simply should not be DIY projects. As the old proverb states, “a man who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Of course, this means that self-representation is likely to end badly. But, this can be made even worse when the person representing you is not even a lawyer.
If you or someone you care about has been injured in an accident, the lawyers at Ludin Law are here to help. Call us at 727-572-5000 or contact us through our website at www.ludinlaw.com