If you’ve been seriously injured in a traffic accident – or any other type of accident in the Pasadena or Los Angeles area – and you need compensation for medical bills and lost wages, you must be represented by a serious Pasadena personal injury attorney.
Most accidents result in only minor injuries: cuts, bruises, scrapes, and/or some minor swelling. First-aid and a couple of days to heal is all that most people who are involved in most accidents will need.
Nevertheless, if you are involved in any type of accident, you must have a medical examination – immediately – to determine if you have sustained any latent or hard-to-discover injuries that could develop into a serious medical condition.
If You’re Injured, When Should You Take Legal Action?
If a doctor confirms that all you have sustained in an accident are some minor scrapes and bruises, it probably isn’t worth your time to pursue legal action. You wouldn’t receive any significant compensation, even if you could find an attorney who agrees to handle the case.
In the State of California, personal injury claims are usually resolved – before any lawsuit is filed – when the attorneys for both sides meet and negotiate an out-of-court settlement.
Insurance companies typically settle personal injury claims quickly because they are usually on the losing side of cases that go to trial, and jury verdicts cost insurance companies substantially more than out-of-court settlements.
If You Pursue an Injury Claim Without An Attorney
If you are going to act as your own negotiator and attorney in a personal injury matter, here’s what you will need to do:
1. Obtain copies of your medical tests and records from your doctor and/or from the hospital that provided your treatment.
2. If you were injured in a traffic collision, obtain a copy of the written police accident report.
3. Obtain documentation of the amount of your lost wages from your employer.
4. Do what you can to obtain statements from any eyewitnesses who saw the accident.
5. Take photographs of your visible injuries after the accident and periodically as you heal.
When Will You Require an Attorney’s Help?
Personal injury attorneys are trained (and usually experienced) negotiators, so if you are injured in an accident – beyond a few minor cuts and bruises – you should put your case promptly in the hands of a southern California personal injury attorney.
When you’ve sustained serious injuries – multiple broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, a spinal cord injury, an injury that requires amputation, or any comparable injury – don’t even think about filing an injury claim without the right attorney’s guidance and advice.
A Pasadena personal injury lawyer will always be able to obtain a more generous settlement on your behalf than you can acquire by acting as your own negotiator and attorney. In fact, going it alone could trigger some negative consequences.
Why Going It Alone May Not Be a Good Idea
What you say to an insurance company after an accident can be used against you. If the company or its attorney can make you nervous and confused, you could say something that results in the denial of your claim or that could even be interpreted as an admission of your own liability.
Moreover, if you negotiate an injury claim without an attorney’s help, you’re telling an insurance company that you’re concerned about saving money, and the company may try to make you accept a “low-ball” offer for an amount that’s significantly less than your claim is actually worth.
Most insurance companies have handled thousands of injury claims. They’re in business to make profits, not pay-outs, and while they may not violate the law, some insurance companies may use deceptive negotiating tactics to keep their pay-out amounts as low as possible.
Understanding the nuances of personal injury law isn’t easy. The most intelligent people can be baffled by the tricky language used in insurance documents. Especially if someone is injured, out of work, and has expenses that are piling up, a first settlement offer can be difficult to turn down.
How Do Attorneys Handle Personal Injury Cases?
If you’re thinking that you’ll try to negotiate with an insurance company and retain a Pasadena personal injury lawyer only if you fail, reconsider that idea. Most personal injury attorneys resist taking a case after an injury victim has tried and failed to negotiate an acceptable settlement.
Personal injury attorneys have a method for building and presenting a case, and if that method is ignored or circumvented, your own efforts will have the effect of reducing your attorney’s chances of obtaining the full settlement amount that may be available.
You’ll Need to Answer These Questions
Before you try to act as your own attorney or negotiator in a personal injury matter, ask yourself these questions:
1. Can you prove that another party was negligent and responsible for the accident that injured you? Can you produce medical records, eyewitnesses, or video evidence?
2. Will you need one or more surgeries, a lengthy hospital stay, and/or long-term medical care?
3. Will you be out of work and without an income for a significant length of time?
Don’t decide to go it alone until you’ve answered all of these questions and considered every aspect of your personal injury claim. If you are going to need a substantial compensation sum, working with an attorney is your only realistic option.
When Should You Speak to an Injury Attorney? What Will It Cost?
Whether you act on your own or with an attorney’s help after you’ve been injured, you must act quickly. California’s statute of limitations gives an injured victim of negligence two years to launch the personal injury process, but you cannot wait two years.
You’ll need to act promptly. If you don’t, the insurance company may claim that you were not injured very seriously, the memories of the witnesses will fade, and if there’s physical evidence, over time it will deteriorate – or even disappear.
Don’t worry about the cost. Injured negligence victims don’t have to pay anything for a first legal consultation. You’ll be able to learn more about your rights, and you’ll obtain personalized advice regarding how the law applies to your own case – with no cost or obligation.
If you and your Pasadena personal injury attorney agree to move forward with your claim, you’ll pay no attorney’s fee until and unless you receive compensation.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in southern California, it costs you nothing to learn more, so there’s no reason to wait. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer today and schedule a consultation.