According to the most recent data, 62 million injuries occurred in the U.S. in 2021. Sadly, an estimated 224,935 people died as a result. Such incidents also caused the nation $1.22 trillion in economic costs. Even more concerning is that many injuries are due to someone else’s actions or lack thereof. In short, their negligence caused harm, suffering, and losses to another person. If you’ve been in such an incident caused by another party, it’s your right to pursue compensation. However, consider hiring a personal injury attorney before doing so. But what exactly are the benefits of enlisting a personal injury lawyer? What difference can they make in your case? We’ve listed all the top answers to those questions below, so read on.
1. Get Help Navigating the Legal System
Personal injury or tort law aims to protect people harmed or injured by another party. However, the victims’ harm or trauma must be due to another party’s negligence or fault. Personal injury cases take many forms, including motor vehicle crashes and pedestrian accidents. Here’s a guide where you can find more information on each type of incident.
Under personal injury law, victims can file an insurance claim to receive compensation. They can do this under their policies, against the negligent party’s policy, or both. If you, as a victim, file a personal injury claim, you become a claimant. By contrast, the negligent party you’re pursuing is the defendant. For your claim to be successful, you must prove the other party’s negligence. You can’t do this with words alone; you need solid evidence to prove four things.
In a personal injury claim, a claimant must prove the defendant owed them a duty.
An example is the duty of every motorist to other road users to operate their vehicle safely. Another is a doctor’s duty to adhere to a reasonable care standard when treating patients.
Breach of Duty
A valid personal injury claim must show that a defendant breached their duty. For example, a defendant may have breached their duty by driving under the influence. DUI is against the law because it puts drivers and other road users in harm’s way. Indeed, drunk driving is behind over 30 daily deaths on U.S. roads. Another example is when a doctor misdiagnoses or delays a patient’s diagnosis. Likewise, they can breach their duty by failing to diagnose an existing condition. They may also be negligent if they incorrectly prescribe or administer treatment.
Causation is the causal relationship between a victim’s injury and a defendant’s conduct. To prove this, a victim must first prove their injuries wouldn’t exist if not for the defendant’s fault. In legalese, this is “actual cause.” A claimant must also prove the harm caused by a defendant’s actions was foreseeable. The legal term for this is “proximate cause.” In the case of a car crash, the actual cause is the at-fault driver hitting the other vehicle. On the other hand, the proximate cause can be the at-fault driver being drunk.
A personal injury case would not be valid if the victim didn’t sustain any damage. Personal injury damages are the losses incurred by a claimant. For instance, it can refer to a car crash victim’s property damage and bodily injuries. It can also pertain to their loss of income because they can’t go to work due to their injuries. Based on the brief descriptions above, you can see how confusing the legal system can be. Moreover, you must prove all four elements of negligence to have a successful claim. Otherwise, your case is invalid. If you hire a lawyer or law firm specializing in personal injury such as a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer, they can clarify such complex laws for you. They will even be responsible for proving all four elements. To do this, they’ll gather all the evidence to prove the other party was at fault.
2. Avoid Missing Filing Deadlines
There are two deadlines associated with most personal injury cases. One is for filing an insurance claim, the other for a lawsuit. The latter is a state law known as the “statute of limitations.”
Deadlines for Filing Insurance Claims
There’s no universal deadline for filing injury-related insurance claims. For instance, most insurers require claimants to “promptly” report any possible covered incident. However, others have stricter rules, ranging from 24 hours to 30-60 days. Failure to adhere to those deadlines can result in the claim getting denied. Even more unfortunate is that you may miss these due dates if you have severe injuries. For example, you may be unable to start the claims process because you can’t move due to broken bones. If so, consider hiring an attorney or legal firm specializing in personal injury. They can start the claims process on your behalf while you rest and recover.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the maximum time a person can file a lawsuit against another. It varies from state to state, ranging from 1 to 3 years for personal injury cases. That may seem like a long time, but not if your accident causes injuries with delayed symptoms.
An example is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can result from traffic incidents and fall accidents.
TBIs are prevalent; an estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. sustain them annually. Of these people, approximately 80,000 to 90,000 develop the onset of long-term disability.
A TBI doesn’t always present with symptoms right away. It’s also challenging to diagnose since it may not appear on imaging tests like CT and MRI scans. You can no longer file a lawsuit for a TBI once the statute of limitations expires. Unfortunately, this means you won’t be able to recover any damages from the at-fault party. A personal injury attorney can help you avoid that by establishing all your injury risks. For instance, they’ll work with your doctors to determine hidden or chronic conditions. Once discovered, your lawyer can then begin the lawsuit filing process.
3. Protect Your Rights From Unscrupulous Insurers
In 2021, the net premiums written by U.S. insurers totaled a whopping $1.4 trillion. The property/casualty (P/C) sector accounted for over half ($715.9 billion) of those written premiums.
P/C insurance includes auto insurance and other accident or liability insurance policies. These are the policies supposed to cover property damage and bodily injury liabilities. Unfortunately, some insurance companies engage in unethical practices for their gain. In legalese, this is what you call “bad faith” insurance tactics.
Examples of Unethical Insurance Company Practices
Many unscrupulous insurers offer an unjustly low settlement amount to claimants. Others refuse to pay a legitimate claim or investigate it within a reasonable time. They may also make absurd and unreasonable demands from the claimant to prove a covered loss. Such unethical practices are against the law, but insurers still commit them. Even worse, they’re successful in many cases, taking advantage of their victims’ vulnerability. For instance, a claimant may feel forced to accept a lowball offer because of their dire need for money.
How a Lawyer Can Help
You won’t have to deal with such unscrupulous insurers by hiring an attorney from the very start. Your lawyer will oversee all communication with the involved insurance companies. They will also contact the insurers immediately to prevent delays. Your attorney will also review offers made by insurers. They will only agree to them if they’re fair; if not, they will negotiate a higher settlement amount. You, on the other hand, don’t have to be present during these talks. Instead, you can stay at home to continue your rest and recovery.
What if you’ve already been a victim of an insurance company acting in bad faith? A personal injury lawyer can still help by pursuing legal action against the insurer. For example, your attorney may require the insurer to compensate you for a denied claim. This may include out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, lawyer fees, and lost income. Your compensation may even include punitive damages if the insurer acted egregiously.
To learn more about the expertise and benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer, feel free to follow this link and explore further information on our website.
4. Expert Representation When Filing a Lawsuit
When you file a personal injury claim, you demand an insurer to cover your accident costs.
If you live in a no-fault state and you’ve sustained injuries, you must first file a claim with your insurer. This is where your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage kicks in. If your PIP claim is valid, your policy should pay for your and your passenger’s medical expenses. It should also cover loss of income. This applies regardless of who’s at fault for the incident.
If you live in an at-fault state, the party who caused the incident should pay for those costs. You must file a third-party claim against their insurer to get them to pay. Their insurance company will then require you to prove their policyholder’s negligence. Unfortunately, not all claims result in a fair and favorable outcome for victims. In this case, having a lawyer is beneficial because they can take your case to court. Aside from insurer problems, here are other times an attorney may file a lawsuit on your behalf.
All insurance policies have a maximum coverage limit. For example, standard PIP usually only covers up to $2,500. The problem is that a disabling injury resulting from a car crash can cost an average of $155,000. In this case, your lawyer can sue the other party to cover the deficit.
Your Injuries Require Continuing Care
Severe injuries, like TBI, fractures, and nerve damage, can lead to chronic disability. These often require long-term or even lifelong treatment. If you sustain such injuries, your lawyer can help you recover compensation. They can do so by filing a lawsuit for special damages. These are damages you can place a price on, such as the cost of treatment and lost wages.
You’re Eligible for General Damages
General damages, also called non-economic damages, are losses usually immeasurable with money. They’re compensation for intangible things a victim may lose or experience. These include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost quality of life (QOL)
- Disfigurement and permanent impairment
- Loss of consortium
Like special damages, general damages require proving the other party’s negligence. So by having an attorney build a strong case for you, you can raise your odds of qualifying for both.
5. Have More Time to Recover Properly
Even minor accident injuries can take one to two months to completely heal. So if you sustain more severe trauma, you can expect your recovery to take much longer. Take chronic whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) as an example. WAD is a collection of symptoms arising from neck injuries. It usually results from accidents involving acceleration and deceleration, such as car crashes. WAD starts from a whiplash injury. Failure to treat or insufficient treatment of the latter can cause it to progress to WAD. According to estimates, about 50% of whiplash patients develop WAD. Many WAD patients suffer from chronic pain-induced disabilities. They also have an increased risk of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
You’re at risk of all those health conditions if you don’t give yourself enough time to heal and recover. For instance, instead of resting, you may wish to prioritize filing a claim ASAP on your own. You may feel compelled to do this because of your mounting healthcare costs. Likewise, you may delay necessary treatment because of a lack of funds. Unfortunately, this won’t help you heal; worse, it can exacerbate your condition. Please don’t risk your health and safety by trying to navigate the claims process alone. Instead, hire a personal injury attorney to take over most, if not all, the legwork on your behalf. That way, you can get as much rest as needed, helping you recover faster.
Let a Personal Injury Attorney Fight for Your Rights
Remember: A personal injury attorney studied law for at least three years. On top of that are the claims and lawsuits they’ve already handled. That knowledge and experience alone make them an invaluable asset to your case. So, hire a personal injury lawyer to help fight for your rights as a victim of another person’s negligence. That way, you can rest easy and have more time to recover while they strive hard to get you the best possible outcome. For more reads like this, check out the rest of our site!