As a former defense lawyer, I have witnessed some people who have attempted to handle their own personal injury cases. Without exception, their cases were either thrown out of court or ended in an unfavorable way.
Some injury claims are so small they may not require legal representation, but my best recommendation as a former insurance defense lawyer is if you have suffered serious injuries from a collision, you need to promptly seek advice from an excellent personal injury lawyer.
An experienced trial lawyer whose focus is auto injury litigation knows how to preserve all your legal rights, not just some of them, against the attempts of the insurance adjuster and their defense attorneys to defeat or minimize your claim.
What Will a Personal Injury Lawyer do for Me?
A few people, though, may still think about handling their own serious injury case. They reason that if they get into trouble doing so — no big deal. If they run into trouble, they’ll just call a lawyer then to bail them out. They figure the risk of messing things up is worth the chance to avoid paying legal fees. When they find out, however, all the work required of trial lawyers, they generally have second thoughts. Among the many other things that trial lawyers have to do, they will have to:
- Conduct a proper scene investigation without missing or destroying evidence.
- Locate all the fact witnesses and obtain their sworn statements and affidavits.
- Locate all the parties responsible for causing their injuries and damages.
- Locate all the insurance coverage potentially covering their injuries and damages.
- Argue and litigate insurance coverage disputes with the insurance companies simultaneously with preparing the personal injury case.
- File a proper lawsuit, naming only the correct parties and claims in order to avoid monetary sanctions for filing improper lawsuits.
- Respond to the defendants’ defenses and motions to dismiss the lawsuit.
- Prepare written discovery to the defendants, requesting appropriate information about the claim and the defenses.
- Prepare all the plaintiff’s witnesses for deposition and trial testimony.
- Prepare for and conduct cross-examinations of all the defense witnesses.
- Conduct legal research and write legal briefs on key issues in the case.
- Prepare a Pre-trial Memorandum to the trial court judge addressing all legal and factual issues to be tried by the court.
- Represent their client in court proceedings on all pre-trial issues.
- Prepare the personal injury case for trial, including the preparation of legal arguments, entry of evidence, and witness testimony.
- Conduct a jury trial of their case following complex trial court rules and evidentiary rules, and file post-trial motions.
For those few individuals who may still want to handle their own case, I would like to also point out that they will need to be prepared to file an appeal to reverse the bad result that is almost certain to occur.
How the Insurance Companies have Changed How they Value Claims
Insight from Florida Personal Injury colleague Tina Willis: “In the days of old, insurance companies believed that they would get more customers if they paid claims promptly and fairly. In other words, they believed good customer service would drive more people back to them, and therefore raise their profits. In the mid-1990′s, according to this Huffington Post article, a consulting giant named McKinsey & Company convinced Allstate and other major insurance companies that they had a better way. In short, they encouraged and ultimately convinced leading insurance companies to rely more heavily on computers, which, unlike human adjusters using their own judgment and general human compassion, would produce purposefully low offers to claimants. If customers or non-customers entitled to coverage did not want to accept these ridiculous, low ball offers, they were intentionally subjected to varying delay and frustration tactics.”
West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers
Chances are this is the first serious accident and recovery you have had to manage, but a lawyer whose focus is auto accident law has handled hundreds of claims for injured people.
A skilled advocate will ensure you are not taken advantage of by the complexities of the insurance claim process and will receive the compensation due to you.
Retaining an attorney adds credibility to a client’s threat to file suit, to pursue a claim to trial, and to negotiate a larger payment. Thus, a client gains more experience, more knowledge, and more negotiating credibility and power in dealing with the insurance industry. You only get one chance to do this right.
Source: Righting the Wrong — West Virginia Serious Injury Guide by Jeffery Robinette, Word Association Publishers, 2012.
Jeff Robinette, WV Insurance Attorney
If you or your loved one has been injured, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim in order to gain the compensation needed to help you move forward with your recovery and your life. Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.
If you have questions, call Jeff Robinette today at 304-594-1800. You may also visit our website to find the answers you need today. You don’t have to handle this alone.
For more information, see our free report “Why the Insurance Company Doesn’t Want You to Hire a Lawyer.”
Additional information on this important subject: “Never Deal with any Insurance Company without an Attorney” by Tina Willis, September 28th, 2013.