Whether or not you should hire a lawyer for your accident case involves many factors. Today, a potential client called our office and was wondering if he should hire a lawyer. His accident happened two months ago. I explained that he may have waited too long to hire a lawyer. He was angry because the insurance adjuster wasn't being reasonable with him. In fact, he told me that he got into a big fight over the phone with the adjuster.
Don't wait too long and then hire a lawyer just because you argued with the adjuster. Hiring "Mr. Lawyer" isn't going to make a big difference in most cases. Insurance adjusters aren't going to be afraid of you now that you've "lawyered up." In most cases, they couldn't care less. In fact, if the lawyer files a lawsuit, the case is likely going to get reassigned to another adjuster at some future date. So you're not going to teach the adjuster a lesson by hiring a lawyer. They simply don't care. The case will be reassigned, and they'll be happy to get it off their desk. In some cases, you will have the same adjuster on the case during litigation.
So, if hiring a lawyer isn't going to scare the adjuster into evaluating your case differently, why would hiring a lawyer sooner than later help? Here's why - an experienced lawyer can help you present your case properly - from the start. Oftentimes, people with little or no experience with personal injury cases make lots of mistakes at the beginning of their case.
Here are some common mistakes people make when they wait too long to consult with an attorney:
1) They think the insurance company is going to pay their bills.
2) They wait and wait for the insurance adjuster to return their call.
3) They think the insurance company is going to tell them what to do, so they wait too long and soon, too much time has elapsed. Delays will be used against you in most cases.
4) They get frustrated and then yell at the insurance adjuster - the very same person from whom they want a settlement check (yes, that's called "biting the hand that feeds you.")
5) They accept a small settlement when their case might be worth a lot more - or they think they need to settle right away.
6) They think they can handle their case on their own when they don't have a full appreciation of what they are doing. This is not the time to guess and "wing it."
7) They don't understand their rights and what the law provides.
8) They get stuck on matters of principal and fail to see the forest from the trees. In short, they don't understand the practical realities of personal injury cases. "Justice" and the way "things should be" get in the way of practical solutions based on real life situations. Basically, there's the "way things should be" and then there's the "way things actually are!" An experienced lawyer can guide you through this quandary and the blurred lines between what the law states and what the realities are.
9) They wait too long to get medical care.
10) They fail to take photos of injuries and damages.
These mistakes become problems for the client later on. For example, the client I spoke with today on the phone had not been to see any doctor for his injuries since the accident. Do you think any insurance adjuster is going to believe he was actually hurt? Even if he was hurt, he didn't take the right steps after his accident. A good lawyer can counsel you about the correct steps to take after an accident, not only to insure your recovery from your injuries, but to also take steps to present your case properly to the insurance adjuster. There is an "art" to this process and anticipating your opponent's arguments is part of the "game." Yes, it is a game.
In short, the main lesson is this: If you're thinking about hiring a lawyer, do so early. Consult with an attorney early in your case and ask them to guide you through the personal injury maze. Having an advocate on your side can help level the playing field - even if you don't hire the lawyer. Don't wait till you've made too many mistakes and think hiring a lawyer is going to correct all those mistakes. It may just backfire.
At the very least, get some good advice. If the lawyer pressures you into signing up as a client, just look for another lawyer who doesn't do that. A good lawyer will tell you if they can bring value to your case. I can't represent every client who walks through my door, but I often give them advice so they can be more educated. That's way I fill this website with articles, videos, blog entries, etc. By getting educated, clients can often make better decisions when it comes to their personal injury matter.
If you need help with your personal injury case, call our office at (661) 414-7100. We will let you know if we can help you.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,