Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer If I’m Submitting a Claim to Insurance?

If you suffered severe injuries or sustained significant losses, you probably need a personal injury lawyer when submitting an insurance claim. However, other unique situations may arise that necessitate legal representation. 

Insurance companies settle most claims out of court. In fact, less than five percent of all personal injury cases go to trial. 

However, whether you go to trial or attempt to negotiate, you will be a sitting duck against a professional insurance adjuster if you try to go it alone. You might need to talk to a lawyer to understand the true value of your claim.

Insurance Companies are Businesses, Not ‘Good Neighbors’

Insurance Companies are Businesses, Not ‘Good Neighbors’

Insurance adjusters love claimants who try to represent themselves. Can you guess why? Your interests are absolutely adverse to those of an insurance company you are claiming against. Every dollar that goes into your pocket comes out of theirs.

By contrast, your interests and your personal injury lawyer’s interests are well-aligned. Since your legal fee will amount to a pre-agreed percentage of whatever amount you win (including zero), the more money you make, the more money your lawyer makes. That is why personal injury lawyers have no need to boast that they are “good neighbors.”

When You Might Not Need a Personal Injury Lawyer

You might not need a lawyer if your claim is small. A non-injury fender-bender might not generate the need for a lawyer or attract the interest of one. 

Remember, though, that if you suffered physical harm, you might be injured and not realize it–or fail to realize the seriousness of your injury. At the very least, seek medical attention if you suffered a physical impact during your accident.

Florida PIP Auto Insurance Claims

Every driver with an automobile registered in Florida must purchase at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. In the event of a car accident, you should file a claim against your own PIP policy. This may or may not generate the need for a lawyer. 

However, suppose your injuries are “serious” as defined by Florida law (resulting in permanent disability, for example), or your losses exceed your PIP policy limits. In that case, you may be entitled to sue the at-fault driver or file a third-party claim against their bodily injury liability insurance policy (if they have one). In cases like these, you need a lawyer. 

Situations Indicating the Potential Need for a Personal Injury Attorney

If any of the following are present in your case, take a second look at the idea of hiring a lawyer:

  • Liability is in dispute (e.g., the insurance company says you are to blame for the accident)
  • More than one party was at fault for the accident
  • Your claim is large
  • Your injuries are severe, or you’re not sure how serious they are
  • Your case is technically complex (as in medical malpractice and product liability cases, for example)
  • The insurance adjuster is not dealing honestly with you or is particularly stubborn (they aren’t acting in good faith)
  • You need to use an expert witness
  • You are filing a wrongful death claim
  • You are filing a claim on behalf of a minor (under 18) or mentally incapacitated person
  • You are facing long-term disability

Even if none of these factors are present, there might still be a fact pattern in your case that increases its value or complicates it to the extent that you need a lawyer.

What Can an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Do To Help With the Insurance Claims Process?

The benefits of hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer are too numerous to list here. However, here are a few advantages of acquiring legal representation:

Asking You All the Right Questions

In many cases, asking the right questions is even more important than getting the right answers. A good lawyer will know which questions to ask you, starting with your initial consultation.

Offering Indispensable Advice

“Don’t mention your case on social media” is strong advice, because the insurance company can use online posts against you at trial (or as leverage in settlement negotiations). Your lawyer might have dozens of more valuable suggestions for you.

Gathering Relevant and Admissible Evidence

A case is built from evidence, just as a house is built from bricks. However, the Florida Evidence Code is counterintuitive in many ways. Did you know, for example, that you probably cannot submit a police report as evidence in court? A good personal injury lawyer will understand the rules inside and out.

Negotiating Your Claim

Negotiation is an art. Your lawyer should be a master of this art, because you can be sure that the insurance adjuster on the other side is. Your lawyer can handle all aspects of negotiation for you except one: approving a final settlement. Only you can do that.

Your lawyer should be able to see through all the strategies that insurance companies like to use, such as lowball settlement offers and delay tactics. If your lawyer’s reputation is strong enough, the insurance company won’t even dare try to use any of these tricks.

Filing a Formal Personal Injury Lawsuit

There are often good strategic reasons to file a lawsuit, even if you plan to eventually settle your claim. To file a lawsuit, you need to complete several steps. Perhaps the most difficult is to draft a formal complaint. You need a lawyer to do this, because even a small error could be costly.

Taking Advantage of the Pretrial Discovery Process

If you actually file a lawsuit, you can gather evidence that cannot be obtained in any way other than the pretrial discovery process. Your lawyer can cross-examine opposition witnesses, issue written interrogatories to the other side, and demand access to physical evidence and documentation that are in the opposing party’s possession. 

There is an art to doing this right, and an experienced personal injury attorney should know just how to do it.

Drafting a Settlement Agreement

If you settle your case before trial (by far the most likely eventuality), you’re going to need a carefully-worded written settlement agreement. Your lawyer and the insurance company will need to hammer out the terms and the exact wording.

Representing You at Trial

At trial, your lawyer will need to perform the following tasks:

  • Help select the jury during voir dire
  • Make and oppose motions to the court
  • Register objections
  • Deliver persuasive opening and closing statements
  • Submit evidence
  • Examine and cross-examine witnesses

If the trial result is unsatisfactory to you, you might need your lawyer to file a timely appeal

Let a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney Handle Your Insurance Claim

An experienced Clearwater personal injury lawyer can see the big picture of your claim beyond the details. Nevertheless, they are less likely to miss important details that unrepresented claimants and inexperienced lawyers might miss. 

Furthermore, a personal injury lawyer with a good track record of winning in court is likely to persuade the insurance company to settle rather than take you to court (where they would likely lose). Contact us today at (727) 787-2500 to talk to on of our experienced Clearwater lawyers at Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers.