Car crash injury victims often wonder whether it might be better if they represent themselves rather than paying for a lawyer. Specifically, the common question is “If the other driver is clearly liable and I make a reasonable offer for damages, won’t the insurance company simply pay me rather than investing time and expenses to litigate?”
Here are the reasons why being self-represented is usually not the best choice in car and vehicle crashes involving injury.
The Driver Who Hit You Will Have Legal Counsel Through Their Insurance Company
If the person who hit you is insured, their insurance company will likely retain legal counsel if a lawsuit is filed. The attorneys for the driver who hit you (and the insurance company who likely retained them) do not care if you choose not to retain a lawyer. In fact, they will likely be glad, since unless you also happen to be a lawyer, you will be at a serious disadvantage if the case goes to trial (which in turn will put you in a serious disadvantage in settlement negotiations).
The Insurance Company for the Driver Does Not Care about “Doing What is Right”
The insurance company for the driver who hit you will not care about “doing what is right” by paying for your damages, even if you believe that it is clear that the other driver is responsible.
Instead, the insurance company and their lawyers will assume nothing. They will dispute that their driver went through a red light at an intersection. They may even blame you for going through the red light in front of their driver.
It’s important to understand that the lawyers for the insurance company and the driver have one goal – to avoid (or minimize) payouts. The lawyers whom they retain will do everything they can within the standards of legal ethics to win – after all, that is why they are being paid.
The insurance adjusters will also seek to avoid payments. If they are able to avoid making large payouts in which significant damages have occurred, they will also look good. (By the way – this is the case even if the driver who hit you is insured by the same company that you use).
How Will You Prove Your Case?
Typically, much of the work in proving a case involves meticulous pre-litigation investigation. Often this includes reviewing police reports, speaking with witnesses, and obtaining information from police departments. If your case does result in the filing of a lawsuit, more investigation is done such as pre-trial discovery, including interviewing witnesses, deposing the driver who hit you (and possibly witnesses or others), serving interrogatories, retaining experts (including accident reconstructionists, medical experts such as physicians, and vocational experts).
As experienced car crash attorneys, we deal with the matters relating to proving the cases of our clients on a daily basis. We know exactly how these matters must be conducted, and what is required to put our clients in an optimal position for a successful outcome.
We Also Know What It Takes in Seeking a Fair Settlement for Clients Injured in Car Crashes
Many insurance companies have specific protocols and evidence required in order to engage in meaningful settlement negotiations following a car accident caused by one of their insureds. It is not enough to simply allege that their driver is at fault. Without understanding these protocols, settlement negotiations can go nowhere.
Typically, insurance companies want to see detailed information and evidence covering matters such as the following:
Crash Causation – Proof that Their Insured is Liable
- Police accident reports detailing what happened in the crash
- Witness statements, if any
- Video of the crash, if it exists
- Pictures of the damaged vehicles, particularly those that show the relative positions of the vehicles at the point of impact
- Other evidence supporting liability
- Information about the fair market value of vehicles that have been totaled, or the costs to repair damaged vehicles
- Detailed costs of medical services received
- Information concerning injury severity, past treatment, and future expected treatment
- Information concerning lost wages and potential limitations on future earnings
- Other information concerning damages that have been sustained
Pain and Suffering, Future Medical Expenses, and Future Lost Wages
Unlike other damages (such as past medical expenses) where a definitive dollar amount may be known, past and future pain and suffering, the cost of future medical expenses, and the potential future lost wages that may be suffered by an accident victim as the result of a diminished work capacity are much harder to prove. Insurance companies usually view these damages with considerable skepticism in settlement negotiations.
For example, what dollar amount should be associated with a victim’s pain and suffering? What about “soft tissue” injuries (like back and neck injuries) that may not show on an x-ray or CT scan? Pain and suffering – including ongoing pain from soft tissue injuries that don’t improve – can be tremendous. We know how to prove pain and suffering to insurance companies and to juries so that fair compensation can be obtained.
If You Have Been Severely Injured in a Car or Vehicle Crash, Call Us
Recovering full and fair compensation in a personal injury case where serious injuries have occurred is a time-consuming process. An insurance company will virtually never just write a check for the full damages. The bottom line is that if you or a family member has been injured, your best option will be to obtain an experienced personal injury claim who will know how to get you full and fair compensation, so that you can focus on your recovery (not learning how litigate an injury case).
Does It Ever Make Sense to Not Retain a Lawyer in a Car Crash?
If you’re unsure as to whether it may be beneficial to retain a lawyer, call us. We will be happy to talk to you for free to learn about your case, whereupon we can advise whether we can help.
We Are Available for a Free Consultation so that You Can Learn About Your Options for Compensation
If injuries have occurred, we can explain how we can help, so that you can focus on healing (instead of having to fight insurance companies and lawyers in obtaining fair compensation).
We invite you to call us to learn about whether you have a case. We offer a free consultation and contingent fee representation, and we advance the costs of litigation on behalf of our clients.