Many people who are injured wonder if they need a lawyer when negotiating an injury claim. While there is no requirement that you have legal representation by your side when you negotiate an injury settlement, there are plenty of reasons why you should, especially if you are negotiating with an insurance company claim adjuster. However, not all cases necessarily need a lawyer.
When Could Self-Representation Be Appropriate?
It is important to remember that when you are in settlement negotiations, the other party in no way has your best interests at heart. They may do whatever they need to in order to pay the smallest amount in terms of your settlement. If you have the time to dedicate to representing yourself, and you have some sort of experience dealing with insurance companies, or representing yourself in the past, then you may be up for the challenge of self-representation.
When the issues are few, or the injuries are minor, the terms of the settlement can be fairly straightforward. For instance, if you were involved in a car accident that you were in no way at fault for, and suffered only minor injuries and vehicle damage, the damages you will be seeking in the settlement are just reimbursement of costs (i.e., incurred medical expenses and property damage). This can make calculating the claim very simple, and you may not need a lawyer to help you with settlement negotiations.
Situations to Consider Getting A Lawyer
Other personal injury cases are very complicated, or are disputed, and these are the types of cases where it may be critical to have a personal injury attorney representing your best interests.
- When Injuries Are Serious Or Long Lasting. If the injuries that you have suffered are serious, or have the potential to last a very long time, you may want to consider getting legal representation. Not only can your lawyer take over your settlement negotiations while you focus on recovery, your lawyer will also have a firm understanding about the value of damages for the type of injuries you have, and what relevant general damages you might be entitled to. General damages are damages for harms that it is difficult to place a monetary value on, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, or mental anguish.
- When Liability Can Be Determined To Exist Amongst Multiple Parties. When multiple parties can be held liable for the injuries you suffered, the issue of liability can get complicated quickly. Texas is an at-fault state, meaning that liable parties are held accountable for their share of the liability for an accident. When multiple parties are involved in an incident that causes injuries to a victim, the liable parties often dispute just how liable they are relative to one another. A personal injury lawyer will be familiar with making liability determinations, and will know how to handle these types of disputes.
- When You Are Partially Liable For Your Injuries. If you are partially responsible for your own injuries, then the other party might try and dispute whether they should be held accountable to you under Texas’ modified comparative negligence laws. Under the modified comparative negligence laws, if a victim is more than 51 percent responsible for their own injuries, then the victim is barred from recovering against other liable parties. If the victim is less than 51 percent responsible for their injuries, the victim may be entitled to a recovery that is reduced by their share of the liability. Liable parties will dispute the victim’s share of liability, and argue that it is more than it actually is. An experienced Houston personal injury lawyer can help in this situation.