When you suffer injuries in an accident of any kind and someone else was at fault, you are likely to consider whether you need to talk with an attorney. Since lawyers charge fees for their services, you probably wonder if talking with a personal injury attorney is worth it: Will a having a lawyer really make a difference?
The truth is that in some situations, there is really no need to talk with an attorney. In other circumstances, not only is it worth talking with a personal injury attorney, but it likely is the only way that you will receive full compensation for your injuries.
Should You Contact a Personal Injury Attorney?
Regardless of the type of accident caused your injuries, if another person was at fault, that person (or actually, his or her insurance company) may be legally responsible for paying for your injuries. When that is the case, you want to make sure that you get all the compensation you deserve.
If your injuries are minor and you recover quickly, chances are good that your medical expenses and other costs will all be paid by your health or car insurance or the at-fault party’s insurance. If that happens, you probably have been fully compensated for your injuries. There is no additional amount that an attorney would be able to recover for you.
If, however, your injuries are severe and longer-term, talking with a personal injury attorney is in your best interest — and you should talk with an attorney before you talk with the other party’s insurance company. The following circumstances are good indications that your injuries are so significant that you should discuss your case with a lawyer:
- Your medical treatment and expenses are considerable;
- Your injuries require long-term medical treatment;
- You will have a permanent disability or impairment due to the injuries;
- You will not receive full compensation for all the work you missed and will miss;
- Your future ability to do your job is affected;
- Your ability to provide for your family is affected;
- Your injuries affect your ability to fully participate in family activities.
Many personal injury attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation, so you really have nothing to lose if your injuries are serious enough that talking with an attorney is advisable. You can learn more about getting legal advice in our article, Can You Get Free Legal Advice in a Car Accident Case?, which applies to all types of personal injury cases, even though it specifically discusses car accidents. The article also explains how lawyers charge for personal injury cases.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Makes a Difference
There are a number of ways that having a lawyer represent you makes a difference in your personal injury case. Here’s a rundown of the most important reasons to hire an attorney for a serious personal injury case:
Calculating Your Damages and Compensation
If your injuries are slight, it’s fairly easy to calculate your damages and compensation. You should be paid for medical bills, lost work, and property damage. You usually will be compensated by insurance. You likely do not need an attorney to calculate your damages.
However, when your injuries are severe, damages are much more difficult to calculate. Determining a figure for your compensation means putting a dollar value on non-economic losses like your pain and suffering, lost future earning capacity, emotional and psychological trauma, past and future inconvenience, and permanent disability or disfigurement.
An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to calculate non-economic damages. He or she also knows that timing is everything in calculating damages. To get an accurate number, your treatment must be at a stage where you have fully recovered or reached maximum recovery. Determining compensation before that time may be premature and could result in compensation that does not fully reimburse you for your injuries.
Additional details about calculating personal injury damages and what goes into resolving a personal injury case are included in two of our recent blog posts:
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
The insurance company for the at-fault party is not on your side. The insurance adjuster’s goal is to settle your claim for the lowest possible amount. If you negotiate with the adjuster yourself, you will be subjected to various negotiating techniques and ploys. The adjuster likely will try to get you to make statements that will harm your case.
When a personal injury attorney represents you, he or she will handle all the insurance company negotiations. Not only will your attorney know all the company’s tricks and ploys, but your lawyer will have a few of his own or her own special negotiating strategies. You will be protected from accidentally making harmful statements, and your lawyer will vigorously represent your position in the negotiations.
Don’t forget that the insurance company has lawyers on their side to fight against your claim. When you have your own attorney advocating for your claim, the company is likely to take your case more seriously and be more willing to increase the amount they are willing to pay.
Investigating, Analyzing, and Hiring Experts
Accidents often have complicated circumstances that need to be investigated and evaluated. Personal injury attorneys are skilled at determining what happened in an accident. They not only know how to gather all the facts and analyze them, but they also hire experts to assist when necessary. Those experts are sometimes even used as witnesses at trial.
Experts are also sometimes used for medical testimony and other evidence relating to the nature of the injuries and determination of appropriate compensation based on the victim’s individual circumstances. Personal injury attorneys know these experts and use them when necessary to establish a case.
Without an attorney to represent you, there will be no way for you to know if an expert could help your case. It would also be difficult for you to find and hire the right expert, even if you think one could help. Your lawyer will be able to determine whether an expert can improve your case. If one is necessary, your attorney will know how to find the right one to assist in asserting your claim.
Filing a Lawsuit in Court
In serious cases, it is not unusual for a case to take time, either because you need time to recover to the point where damages can be determined or because the insurance company is being difficult in the negotiations. In Virginia, there is a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. If a claim is not settled within two years, and a legal case is not filed in court, the victim loses any ability to hold the at-fault party accountable.
So, if your compensation cannot be determined because you are still recovering, or insurance negotiations drag on, your lawyer will file a lawsuit in court to protect your rights. That is the only way your claim can be safeguarded. Only an experienced personal injury attorney can file a case in court that will fully protect your legal rights.
While most personal injury cases settle without going to trial, there are times when a trial in court becomes necessary. If that turns out to be necessary in your case, your attorney will be fully prepared to move forward and represent you in a court trial.
If You’ve Been Seriously Injured, Talk With a Respected Virginia Beach Personal Injury Lawyer
For all these reasons and more, it is critical to retain a personal injury attorney when another person has caused you to suffer serious injuries. Jeffrey Brooke is a trusted, respected Virginia Beach attorney whose practice is dedicated to helping injured victims and their families. At The Jeff Brooke Team, we will always have your and your family’s interests at heart and aggressively pursue your case to get the full compensation you deserve. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.