A plaintiff in a personal injury accident case is certainly entitled to represent herself in her quest for compensation for her injuries. There is no law or rule that requires victims to hire counsel to represent them in a personal injury accident. For very minor accidents where the plaintiff received little or no injury, an attorney may truly not be needed. However for most personal injury accident cases an attorney is not only helpful, but will likely result in a significantly larger settlement amount for the plaintiff. Understandably, if the case goes to trial, a plaintiff will need the help of an attorney. Studies have also repeatedly shown, however, that a plaintiff that is represented by an attorney will receive a larger negotiated settlement amount than an unrepresented plaintiff in cases that are settled outside of the courtroom.
One reason that settlements tend to be larger when a plaintiff is represented by an attorney is a direct reflection of the experience and knowledge that the attorney lends to the case. An attorney is trained to understand the law and generally has years of experience handling similar cases. As such, an attorney can direct the plaintiff to the proper medical services and treatment that she needs to substantiate the injuries she received. An attorney also knows how to find and preserve evidence that may be needed to prove the case. For instance, many underrepresented victims rely on the police report to prove negligence. While a police report can be used in a personal injury accident case, it is not, alone, proof of negligence on the part of the defendant even if the police officer cited the defendant in the report. Additionally, an attorney will proactively contact potential witnesses and call them in for depositions that may be used later in the event the witness becomes unavailable. For complicated accidents, an attorney may be able to utilize the expertise of accident recreation expert witnesses that a plaintiff alone does not have access to.
Additionally, an attorney “ups the anti” for the insurance company. Once an attorney is involved, the insurance company knows that there is a realistic chance that the case could proceed to a trial if a settlement agreement is not reached. The cost for an insurance company to try a case is substantial. Before an actual lawsuit is filed the insurance company usually has an adjuster handling the negotiations with very little time spent by an attorney on the case. Once a lawsuit has actually been filed the cost to the insurance company starts to skyrocket. At that point, an attorney must take over handling the case and the fees start adding up quickly. Remember, the insurance company must pay their legal fees even if they ultimately win the case at trial. For this reason, an insurance company has an additional incentive to settle a personal injury accident case outside of the courtroom when an attorney is handling the case for the plaintiff. In most cases, spending a few thousand dollars more on a settlement outside the courtroom will actually save the insurance company a considerable amount of money in the long-term.
If you have been the victim of a personal injury accident and would like an experienced California attorney to provide you a free detailed evaluation of your case, please contact the personal injury law firm of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit them online at www.ledgerlaw.com