By: Matthew Tievsky
Imagine that you have been hurt in an automobile collision by another driver,
who was negligent. If you are like many people, your first instinct may
be to not hire a lawyer. Some people would tell themselves: "Why
should I turn this into a big deal?" Or, "I'm not the kind
of person who sues." Or, "I don't want to pay a lawyer's
fees." If that is your instinct, your initial impulse may be to settle
with the defendant's insurance company for a low amount of money,
as soon as possible.
And sometimes, this does turn out for the best. A lawyer isn't appropriate
for every case. If your accident was not very serious – if it caused
no injury, or just necessitated a single visit to the hospital –
it may not be worthwhile to hire an attorney. But always keep a few points in mind:
You may not immediately realize the extent of your injury.
Sometimes it takes days for pain to fully develop after an automobile collision
to develop. Sometimes what seems to be a minor injury lingers on much
longer expected. Sometimes the catastrophic nature of an injury is not
immediately clear (such as a traumatic brain injury). If your instinct
is to settle your case as soon as possible, you may make a rash decision
before you understand how badly you have been hurt.
You may need an expert to determine the value of what you have lost.
Even if you understand that you have been injured, it may be difficult
to determine how to put a monetary value on your injury. It's relatively
easy to total up the medical bills you've already incurred and the
wages you've already lost. But it is harder to calculate the bills
and wages you will lose in the future. An attorney will know experts to
consult, to make these determinations. Also, an attorney will know how
to evaluate the intangible losses you've suffered and will suffer,
in terms of pain and suffering.
The insurance company may try to low-ball you if it knows you are not protected
by an attorney.
Insurance companies know the above points. Insurance companies also know
that you are unlikely to file a lawsuit by yourself; and that even if
you do, you will not be as skilled as a practiced attorney. That is why
an insurance company is particularly likely to make you a bad offer to
settle the case if you are unrepresented, because it without an attorney
you are unlikely to beat the offer in court.
We do not recommend that you wait unnecessarily to make a decision as to
what to do. But it is even worse to rush into a settlement without legal
help, if you have been significantly injured by another person's negligence.
If you are concerned about your injuries after an automobile collision,
you can talk to a Northern Virginia car accident attorney for free by
contacting Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.