If you have been injured in an accident, you may wonder whether you need a personal injury lawyer to assert your claim. The truth is—you do not need a personal injury lawyer, but your chances of prevailing on your claim are going to be much higher if you have one. In most situations, you also end up with a higher settlement or damages amount if you utilize the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The two biggest reasons to hire an attorney are that the attorney does most of the leg work for you in the case and that your attorney can be a powerful ally in speaking with the insurance company on the other side. We’ll talk about each benefit a bit more in depth below.
Working Through the Process
A personal injury case usually follows the same basic outline as it heads toward trial.
- Filing the petition. This is your chance to tell the other side that you have been hurt and you are holding them responsible for your injury. Your attorney can help you draft this document to include all of the legal language that you need to have to make a valid claim according to Massachusetts law.
- The other side then responds to your petition by asserting that they are either not responsible or they have some other defense to responsibility. Your attorney will help analyze this document to see how to confront any legal defenses or fact issues.
- After both initial filings are completed, the court and the parties will schedule the trial and the discovery. Your attorney will help set up these deadlines on a timeline that is realistic and manageable because he or she knows how long the legal process takes.
- This is a broad term that means the parties are going to exchange information with one another. This could include pictures, documents, statements from the driver, and insurance policies. Discovery also involves questioning the other party and any witnesses. Your attorney will gather most of this information for you, but he or she will ask your help when answering questions. Your attorney will also question witnesses and other parties according to the standards set under Massachusetts law.
- The trial combines all of the efforts of discovery and presents it to a judge or jury in a light that is favorable to you. Your attorney will tell your story and make sure it meets all legal requirements.
Negotiations and Settlement
While you are working through this process, your attorney is usually also talking to the other side about settlement options. Your attorney knows roughly how much your case is worth because of his or her vast experience in similar cases. This experience and knowledge helps your personal injury lawyer get a settlement based on all of the factors in your case.
If you try to settle alone, you may end up settling for a lot less than your case is worth. This is partly because you may not realize how much your case is worth. It may also be because the insurance company will try to take advantage of your inexperience with the settlement or legal process. Having an attorney negotiate for you helps protect you from “getting played” by the insurance company. Don’t let your case settle for a penny less than what it is worth—call Jim Glaser Law at 888-981-8938 for a free case evaluation.