If you or a loved one has been in an accident and has the right to claim compensation, it’s likely a sensitive and difficult time. You might be undergoing treatment, focusing on recovery, or even mourning the loss of a family member. You may also have many questions about how to file a claim, get the maximum possible compensation, or even find a lawyer you can trust to handle your case. Here, we cover five of the most frequently asked questions when filing a personal injury claim.
1. How should I go about finding a lawyer to handle a personal injury claim?
The best way to find a personal injury attorney is to ask your friends and family who have hired a lawyer (or know others who have and whose opinion you trust) to handle their case. This same process can be followed to hire any type of professional. Aim to collect three or four names and then do some independent research. This might involve looking at their websites to see if they handle your specific case type. For example, if you’re looking for an auto accident attorney in Greenville, SC, a lawyer who specialises in medical malpractice cases in Tennessee is unlikely to be the best fit. When doing your research, don’t forget to also look for independent testimonials on third-party review sites, which can give you an insight into how other clients’ cases were handled and how well-supported they felt by their lawyers.
Once you’ve done your research and eliminated any firms that aren’t a good fit, get in touch and interview them. Ask about the previous cases they have worked on — especially if they are similar to your case — and what the process of working with them entails. This is your opportunity to ask all the questions you might have, and the right attorney will be more than happy to answer them honestly while being empathetic to your situation.
Hiring a lawyer is an important decision and could make the difference between a small settlement and getting a large payout. Don’t be afraid to shop around and ask questions — just because a law firm has spent a chunk of their marketing budget on a catchy radio jingle doesn’t necessarily mean they will be the best fit for you.
2. What kind of mistakes do people commonly make when filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit?
One mistake people often make when looking to file a personal injury claim is not taking action fast enough. The statute of limitations on injury cases varies by state. In South Carolina, for example, the statute of limitations on most tort cases (car wrecks, slips and falls, etc.) is three years, though there are exceptions. In Kentucky, however, the statute of limitations is just one year, so if you don’t realise you are eligible to make a claim and seek help from a lawyer in that time, you can miss out on a potentially substantial payout that is rightfully yours.
However, one of the bigger problems many lawyers encounter is that clients admirably try to let their injuries work out on their own months after an accident and only seek medical help when their situation isn’t improving.
Insurance companies often point to this gap in treatment as evidence that a person is not hurt, when in reality, they simply don’t want to go to a doctor and risk hefty medical bills. This often makes it much more difficult to prove the extent of damage resulting from the accident and, therefore, get the best compensation. Sadly, it’s very often the case that “good people make bad cases”.
3. Will I have to pay a personal injury lawyer’s fees?
While personal injury lawyers advertise that there is no fee unless the claim is successful, many people don’t realise they won’t have to pay upfront or if the claim is rejected. This can put off would-be clients who have a claim but cannot afford a lawyer, and so it’s one of the more common misconceptions of making a personal injury claim.
Personal injury lawyers operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, which means that you will only pay your lawyer’s fees if you are awarded a settlement. This is often deducted from the total insurance payout, so all money you receive from your lawyer after a case is settled is yours.
4. How difficult is it to negotiate with insurance firms to get a settlement?
Negotiating with insurance companies is not straightforward and can be a battle. Some adjusters will stall for time, use excuses for non-payment and plan on doing everything in their power not to pay a claim. An adjuster’s job is to pay as little as possible, and it’s an adverse relationship, no matter how charming the adjuster may seem. Your personal injury lawyer should have your best interests at heart and fight for a fair settlement, so don’t sign any paperwork before consulting your attorney.
5. How can I get the maximum compensation from my personal injury claim?
The best way to get maximum compensation is to hire an experienced, reputable injury attorney. These lawyers specialise in your type of claim and can help you negotiate the muddy waters of insurance settlements, so always listen to their advice as your case evolves.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is an important decision and not one that should be taken lightly. While you have to consider the statute of limitations in your state, you should give yourself time to research and interview the firms you’re considering. Taking action early is always recommended to ensure you work with a reputable attorney dedicated to getting you a fair result.