There are millions of personal injury cases across the United States each year. These situations range from vehicle crashes to work-related accidents. They also include falls on public or private property, injuries and damage caused by defective products, nursing home neglect, and dog bites among other types of cases.
Whether the injuries and losses are minor or significant, victims often face mounting medical bills, missed time from work, emotional suffering and property replacements. Sometimes, getting compensation is a simple matter of talking to the right people and filing the proper paperwork. For most people, though, that’s just not the case.
If you’ve been injured in some way due to someone else’s negligence, you may ask, “Is it worth hiring a personal injury attorney to handle my case?” Truthfully, the answer to this question varies based on several factors.
We’ll discuss those aspects to help you decide if hiring a personal injury lawyer would be the best option for you.
Looking at Recent Accident Statistics
Vehicle accidents are, by far, the most common source of injuries, property damage and loss of life. According to a recent report, an estimated 6 million car crashes happen each year in America. (1) About half of those result in injuries and another two million people involved in such accidents experience permanent injuries.
Another report shows 2.8 million people are injured at work or develop an illness due to exposure to harmful substances on the job each year. (2) Though most of those instances take place in industrial settings, on construction sites, and on farms, they’re not limited to those types of jobs. People working in offices and the retail industry are among those injured at work as well.
Product liability cases range from defective car parts and potentially harmful toys to improperly tested medical devices and poorly designed furniture. These types of cases have surged over the last few decades. Accounts show fewer than 1,600 cases reported in 1974, but upwards of 95,000 were filed during the last year for which information is available.
These are only a few of the scenarios personal injury attorneys handle each year. More than a million people slip or trip and fall because of unsafe conditions and inadequate safety precautions. Five million elderly patients suffer through abuse or neglect at the hands of nursing home staff members, and almost 100,000 people lose their lives each year due to preventable medical errors.
Going beyond the Numbers
All that said, not all of those injuries become legal matters. Of the 6 million vehicle accidents taking place each year, about half result in only minor injuries and property damages. Drivers who are at fault in those accidents have insurance coverage, and their providers pay for the damages as expected.
Some on-the-job accidents require little more than a precautionary trip to the emergency room and one or two days missed from work. Workers’ compensation covers the necessary treatments, and employers don’t hesitate to take care of their staff members’ needs. (3)
Of course, many cases aren’t so cut and dried. Insurance providers often fight to pay out as little as possible for damage and injury claims. An employer may insist an employee is responsible for his or her own injuries. Medical personnel and product manufacturers rarely take responsibility for their errors without a bit of legal intervention.
Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer or Handle My Own Claim?
Whether you’re battling an insurance company after an accident or asking for compensation for medical bills after a fall on someone’s property, it’s possible to handle a personal injury claim on your own. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean taking care of a claim without legal counsel is a good idea. Answering a few key questions about your case can help determine if you need a personal injury attorney.
How Extensive Are Your Injuries?
Minor injuries don’t generally require a great deal of ongoing medical care. For small lacerations or a few bruises, you may have to visit the emergency room or your primary care physician. Your insurance coverage or that of the person responsible for your injuries will most likely cover most of the costs. Hiring a personal injury attorney probably wouldn’t be necessary in a case like this.
More critical accidents result in much more extensive and expensive injuries. Treatment for a serious fall can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the National Safety Council, the average cost of medical care following an on-the-job accident is $41,000. (4) Injured workers lost a total of 103 million days of pay each year as well.
Accidents that cause permanent injuries and disabilities come with far greater costs from both financial and emotional perspectives. Those resulting in death bring about funeral expenses and emotional and financial hardships for family members left behind. For serious personal injuries, disabilities caused by an accident, and loss of a loved one, hiring a personal injury attorney may lead to a more effective outcome for your case.
Who Was Responsible for the Accident?
Almost all personal injury cases involve negligence somewhere along the line. People drive while they’re distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Business owners and managers fail to put signs in place warning visitors of ice or wet floors. Employers rush workers to get jobs done quickly, leaving them to work in unsafe conditions. Companies cut corners on testing and manufacturing to get their products to market more quickly. Any number of issues could lead to injuries and property damage.
If you know exactly who caused your accident, whether directly or indirectly, and how the person was responsible for your injuries, you may be able to handle your claim without help. This is particularly true if you have several credible witnesses or indisputable video footage. Both would improve your chances of getting the compensation you’re looking for.
Most cases aren’t quite so simple, though. Business owners tend to deny responsibility for visitors’ injuries. Employers may place the blame on their workers to avoid having to pay for medical expenses and fines. Perhaps more than one person was at fault for the accident.
Even if you know who caused your accident, your word alone may not hold up against other testimonies in court. You must prove where the responsibility lies and to what extent. In the event more than one person or company’s negligence caused your accident, the case becomes even more complicated and difficult to prove. Personal injury lawyers have the experience and resources necessary to help make sure the right person or people are held accountable.
Were You Offered a Fair Settlement?
It’s no secret many businesses and insurance companies try to cut their expenses at every possible turn. They’re notorious for offering minimal payouts. In many cases, those small sums of money fall short of covering victims’ injuries, damages and losses. Some, though, take people’s needs to heart and offer fair settlements.
If you’ve been offered a fair settlement, you may not be able to pursue the matter any further. When that’s the case, hiring an injury lawyer wouldn’t change anything. In the event you feel you’re being shortchanged, don’t hesitate to speak with an attorney.
Who Will Pay for Your Losses and Medical Treatments?
Reports indicate most drivers carry only minimal liability coverage on their vehicles, and many business owners do the same. In Alabama, the minimum legal coverage amount is $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries and $25,000 for property damage. (5) Minimum business liability coverage varies by industry, business size, location, and other factors.
Chances are this may not cover the cost of your medical expenses and property replacement. Your insurance might help bridge the gap, but this still leaves significant out-of-pocket expenses on your shoulders.
While most people’s next course of action is bringing a personal injury lawsuit on those responsible for their accidents, this may not be an effective alternative. Major corporations and larger businesses may be able to pay for your remaining expenses, but small businesses might not have the funds to do so. The same could be said for individuals. If those who are at fault simply don’t have the money or assets to compensate you, hiring an attorney and taking the case to court would be pointless.
Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
All of the factors surrounding your accident will determine if you should hire a personal injury attorney. Accidents that cause only minor injuries or property damage usually don’t warrant legal intervention. In most cases, the at-fault party’s insurance provider will compensate you for your losses. If you fell or were otherwise injured at a business, the owners or other people responsible for keeping visitors safe may offer a settlement to cover your injuries. If the settlement is fair, an attorney may not be necessary.
On the other hand, if you’re given a lowball offer that falls well short of the cost of your injuries and losses, someone may be trying to take advantage of you. Having a personal injury attorney on your side would certainly help make the case work out more in your favor. If your accident resulted in serious injuries, ongoing medical care, significant time missed from work, permanent disabilities, or loss of a loved one, hiring an attorney would be the best route to take.
Other Points to Keep in Mind
If you’ve been in an accident, it’s important to keep a few other elements in mind. First off, seek medical care as soon as possible after the fact no matter how minor your injuries may seem at the time. You may only have a couple of visible bruises, but some injuries take a few days or even weeks to appear.
Getting medical help quickly could minimize your suffering later. It’ll also establish a paper trail in case you those who are responsible try to deny their roles in your injuries and you need to take the matter to court. Be sure to keep track of all follow-up treatments as well.
Also, take pictures of the accident scene and any injuries involved if you’re able to do so. Get numerous pictures of the surrounding area whether you trip on a broken sidewalk or sustain injuries in a car crash. Those pictures will provide helpful evidence when the time comes to deal with the insurance companies or speak with an attorney.
How Do I Know If It’s Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer?
For cases involving more than small-scale injuries or damage, it’s certainly worth hiring a personal injury attorney. Victims who have legal counsel on their side generally receive at least 30 percent more compensation than those who try to handle their cases alone. Those responsible for the accident may be more likely to offer a larger settlement without having to go to trial if a lawyer is involved.
Personal injury attorneys fully understand the legal system as well. You may inadvertently overlook vital details to your case, but the professionals know which information is important and how to present it. They also have more resources to draw from, such as connections with expert witnesses, research teams, and other helpful tools to strengthen your case.
Schedule a Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer at Hadley Law Firm
Deciding whether your case is worth pursuing isn’t always easy. It’s often difficult to decide if you’ve received a suitable settlement offer. Even pinpointing who was at fault for your injuries can be a struggle. This is especially true considering all the possible variables involved, but a lawyer can help.
Personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. They’ll discuss the case with you and explain your options. If pursuing the case is your most beneficial alternative, they’ll put their experience and resources to work for you to ensure the best possible outcome.
All Things Considered
Some personal injury cases don’t need to go to court. Insurance companies sometimes offer fair settlements that fully cover victims’ medical expenses and losses. That’s not usually the case, though.
In most instances, at least consulting with a personal injury attorney at Hadley Law Firm in Mobile, Alabama, is a worthwhile endeavor. If you don’t stand to gain anything from pursing the case, the attorney will point that out. You have nothing to lose by speaking with an attorney about your case.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
- National Safety Council