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Do You Really Need a Personal Injury Attorney, or Can You Settle Your Case on Your Own?

You were just rear-ended in Santa Cruz on Highway 17 and sustained a whiplash injury. You assume that you have relatively slight injuries and no serious issues to deal with, so you may assume that you can deal with it on your own. But can you? Is it wise to deal with a personal injury claim on your own? Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can offer a number of advantages to your personal injury claim, while trying to do it yourself can cause unexpected complications and delays, and even result in a decrease in the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries.

Why do people assume they can handle personal injury claims on their own?

Many accident victims simply assume that they can handle personal injury claims without assistance for the following reasons…

“My insurance company will take care of that.”

You know the other driver is at fault for the accident. You have collision insurance on your vehicle and a good relationship with your insurance company. You may assume that you can just turn the claim over to your insurance company and let them deal with it. Unfortunately, the insurance company may not always have your best interests at heart, and may not fight for the full compensation you deserve after a serious accident.

“I didn’t suffer serious injuries, so I shouldn’t really expect that much in compensation anyway.”

You might not have sustained serious injuries in your accident, but even minor injuries, including whiplash, can result in high medical expenses and ongoing difficulties. Whiplash can interfere with your ability to work or leave you in a great deal of ongoing pain, which can make it very difficult for you to engage in the activities you usually enjoy. You may deserve compensation for all of those elements. An expert car accident attorney will see that you get what you are entitled to.

“The insurance company already offered me a settlement.”

Some insurance companies will try to act fast to get a settlement offer in front of you after an accident. If you take it, the claim is over and done with–for both you and them. Accepting that settlement offer, however, may mean that you do not receive the compensation you actually deserve for the injuries you sustained in the accident. Often, insurance companies will issue low initial settlement offers and hope that you will accept them to reduce their financial liability to you after an accident.

If You Decide to Do It On Your Own, Take These Steps

You have the right to choose to handle your personal injury claim on your own. However, if you plan to DIY your claim, make sure you follow these important steps.

1. Make sure you see a doctor to rule out more serious injuries.

It was a minor collision. You think you just have whiplash, which should resolve on its own within a few days or weeks. Unfortunately, what you assume is minor whiplash could, in reality, be a much more serious injury. If you settle for a low offer soon after the accident, before you know about those more serious injuries and repercussions, it could minimize the compensation you ultimately receive–and prevent you from getting the funds you need and deserve. See a doctor to rule out more serious injuries.

2. Keep track of all accident-related expenses.

Make sure you know how much the accident has cost you, both in terms of medical bills, including related medical expenses, and in terms of lost time at work, which could factor into your claim.

3. Choose your words with care when dealing with the insurance company.

Avoid admitting liability for the accident or making statements about the progress of your recovery, since those statements could limit your compensation in the future.

What Attorneys Can Do That You Can’t

You may think that you want to handle your personal injury claim on your own and even assume that you can do the same thing an attorney can. In reality, however, attorney can often do many things that you can’t.

An attorney can often collect more evidence related to your claim.

An attorney can more easily take and certify witness testimonies, access potential video footage of the accident, and get records that may establish liability for more than one party in the accident.

An attorney knows exactly how much compensation you should expect.

When you work with a personal injury attorney, you can find out exactly how much compensation you deserve from your personal injury claim, from the coverage offered by the insurance company that covers the liable party to the extent of your expenses related to the accident–including anticipated future medical expenses.

Using an attorney automatically shows that you plan to take the claim seriously.

When an attorney contacts the insurance company, the insurance company will often automatically take you more seriously. They will provide you with more information and often issue a better settlement offer than if you attempt to handle your claim on your own.

An attorney can help cut through the red tape and move your claim along more efficiently.

When you suffer injuries in an accident, you need a fast resolution. Unfortunately, insurance companies often move incredibly slowly–and they can make it difficult for you to get the compensation you deserve. You may need those funds to pay off your medical expenses, cover your immediate bills while you cannot work, or to purchase things that can make your life easier after the accident. An attorney can help speed the process along and get you the compensation you deserve sooner. It may only be a whiplash today, but there may be serious repercussions and permanent neck injuries that you are not aware of in the immediate aftermath of the accident. An attorney knows all the possibilities and can help give you a better idea of the ideal outcome for your claim. If you suffered even seemingly minor injuries in an accident, call us today. The consultation is free–and it could ultimately save you a lot of money on your claim.