Can I Handle My Personal Injury Case Myself?

Can I Handle My Personal Injury Case Myself?

Yes, you can. But should you? At the risk of sounding self-serving, the answer for 95% of cases is “no.” In all but the slightest of injury cases you will do better – that is, you will receive more money even after paying your attorney’s fee – if you hire an attorney.

The reason is that without an attorney you lack bargaining power. Only an attorney can successfully file a suit and litigate it in front of a jury. It is this fear of facing a suit and a jury that compels an insurance company to offer an injured person a sum that is close to what the case is worth. An injured person negotiating on their own cannot frighten an insurance company sufficiently, because the injured person cannot properly litigate his or her own case.

If you do not have an attorney the insurance adjuster (the insurance company employee you will negotiate with) will not offer you anywhere near what your case is worth. You will also probably have no idea what your case is worth. Even if you did it would not change things much. You simply lack the firepower to negotiate a successful settlement. The adjuster will offer you as his/her “final and best offer,” which will likely be much less than you would have received had you hired an attorney.

Also, filing suit is often the best way to maximize your claim. Many times, even when an attorney represents the injured person, the adjuster will not offer adequate money until after a suit is filed. Sometimes a case must be tried because the adjuster never offers an adequate settlement. You need an attorney not only to make all this happen, but also to advise you when to settle and when to continue to trial.

If you represent yourself, you are going to get shortchanged. The only time I advise people to represent themselves is when the accident is very minor and they have either never seen a doctor or have only seen a doctor once. Only in those cases do I think that they can probably do as well on their own as with an attorney.

For more information, see the tip “I Am Injured. What Now?