If someone else hurt you in a Los Angeles accident, you may be entitled to receive damages for your injuries and related losses. This may be accomplished by settling with the other party’s insurance company or filing a lawsuit, but doing it on your own carries serious risks. In most cases, it is beneficial to have the assistance of an attorney in the process, and the reasons why are listed below. If you need help with a personal injury claim, our personal injury lawyer in Garden Grove at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C., may be able to assist you.
Risks Of Settling A Personal Injury Claim Without A Lawyer
You should ask if you should resolve a claim without legal assistance. There are many potential pitfalls to attempting to settle a personal injury claim on your own:
Getting Less Money Than You Should
If you are unfamiliar with personal injury law and insurance negotiations, there is a high probability you will settle for less than you should. Unfortunately, many seriously injured people need money fast and take whatever the insurance company offers early. You might decide to take a fast settlement but you could be walking away from money.
Here is why: For the insurance company to make a fair offer, you and your doctors must know the full extent of your injuries. This requires all your medical bills, records, and usually a statement from your physician about your injuries and prognosis. Unfortunately, little of this essential evidence is available in the first days after the accident.
If you settle early in the claim, there may be a higher likelihood you will need more money for your future medical treatments and expenses. Plus, you may not get enough compensation for your pain and suffering. Remember, it may be best to only try to settle your claim once the full extent of your injuries is understood.
Making Mistakes That Reduce Or Void The Claim
Many accident victims do not realize they have in most cases only two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit in California. Unfortunately, that time can pass quickly, and accident victims must act in time to receive compensation in a claim.
You also may make mistakes that reduce what you receive from the insurance company. For example, California has a comparative negligence rule, meaning your accident compensation can be reduced based on your degree of fault for the accident. Therefore, you could inadvertently say something to the insurance company that suggests you were partially at fault, thereby giving them a reason to reduce what they pay you.
Suppose someone runs a red light near Griffith Observatory or the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and hits you in the intersection. It would appear that the other driver caused the crash and owes you damages. But if you inadvertently mention vague facts to the insurance company that suggest you were driving over the speed limit, you have given them a reason to reduce or eliminate a settlement offer. A personal injury attorney is trained and experienced not to say things that undermine the case.
Waiving and Forfeiting Your Legal Rights
The biggest issue is when a seriously injured client who needs money yesterday signs a settlement agreement too fast. Once you have signed, most of the time there is no going back; if your injuries worsen, you cannot receive more compensation. A good habit would be to never sign anything from the other party’s insurance company without an attorney reviewing it.
Missing Critical Evidence
There are many critical evidence pieces in serious accidents, from police reports to witness statements to medical records. Unfortunately, you could easily miss an essential piece of evidence, making proving the other party is liable more challenging.
Giving Insurance Company A Recorded Statement
Soon after the accident, the liable party’s insurance company may contact you to get a recorded statement before offering a settlement. This could be a trap, and you should never fall into it.
Insurance adjusters might use anything you say about the accident to reduce what they offer you. They also may pass along your statement to the company’s attorneys, who can and will use it against you if the claim goes to court.
If you talk to their insurance company and they ask to record the statement, consider politely refusing. Instead, tell them to speak to your personal injury lawyer.
Remember that insurance companies make money by paying injured parties as little as possible, and they know how to do that often. Therefore, you might put yourself at a significant disadvantage for a fair settlement when negotiating with the insurance company. Besides, a personal injury lawyer in Garden Grove will review your case at no cost. If there is no case or they think they cannot get you more money than you can, they will tell you.
Not Understanding How Insurance Liens Work
Insurance liens are a subject that few accident victims understand. Therefore, having an attorney involved in dealing with health insurance liens is often more important than negotiating for the best settlement.
A medical lien may be established so you can receive medical treatments while insurance settlement negotiations are underway. When a settlement is reached, your medical providers will be compensated from the recovery. This sounds simple, but it gets complicated quickly.
A common mistake people make without a lawyer is paying the health insurance company more than they need to and even jeopardizing their health insurance coverage because they misunderstand their obligation to pay. If an accident victim does not pay the medical lien on time, an insurance provider may void coverage, but victims can also overpay, so having a personal injury attorney handling these complex matters is invaluable. In addition, a skilled attorney might be able to negotiate lower payments to medical providers, which can increase the payout an accident victim receives.
Call Our Personal Injury Lawyer In Garden Grove Today
Losses in personal injury cases can be substantial and may include medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. In addition, you could be due compensation you do not know about, such as for lost future income. It can be a huge risk to settle your claim without legal assistance, so contact our personal injury lawyer in Garden Grove now at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. at (888) 883-6588.