While there is certainly nothing wrong with trying to handle your own personal injury matter, at least visit an experienced lawyer early on to get some good advice.
For some reason, I've recently been getting a lot of calls from people who had accidents many months ago and they are only now reaching out to consult an attorney. They say, "Oh, I tried to handle things on my own but now the insurance company is saying...etc..." There are several reasons you should not wait too long before discussing your options with a lawyer.
First, if the insurance company is denying your claim or offering you a paltry sum to settle your case, it has been my experience that bringing a lawyer on board late in the game does nothing but force the insurance adjuster to dig in their heels even more! Their reaction is basically as follows: "Oh really? You think I'm going to offer you more money just because you hired a lawyer? Think again!" In most cases, a lawsuit will need to be filed.
Second, when clients call me months after they've tried to handle things on their own, I really feel like I'm being brought in to undo all the damage they've done to their case. After your house burns down, there is little to be gained by calling the fire department. For example, in many cases they waited too long before treating, they fought with and yelled at the insurance adjuster (the very same person who might have written them a check), they were spotted dancing at a party the day after the accident, they failed to take photos and get witness information, etc. At this point, I'm being brought in to put out a fire that has already caused too much damage.
In most cases, the clients have done more harm than good by trying to handle things on their own. That doesn't mean a lawyer needs to get involved - only that they should have consulted with a reputable attorney in the beginning.
I understand some clients are afraid to contact a lawyer, and perhaps that's why they didn't call. I can comfortably say that I turn away about 50% of the clients who call. In many cases, there is little I can offer them. Also, in many cases, I give them some advice and they handle things on their own. However, if hiring a lawyer will add value to their case, I will be sure they are made aware of that.
There are some cases when a lawyer can be brought in late in the game and make a difference. This is usually when the insurance company is simply being ridiculous (i.e., they have no legitimate arguments, or the insurance adjuster isn't returning calls or otherwise dropped the ball). Like all things, there are exceptions to the rule. Therefore, your case may indeed benefit from involving an attorney - even late in the game.
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by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.