One of the questions people ask themselves after an accident is whether they truly need to hire an injury lawyer or if they can get by filing the claim on their own.
First thought that comes to our minds is the old adage about how you could probably pull your own tooth if you had to – but wouldn’t you rather a dentist do it?
Of course, some of it depends on the severity of the situation. Are we talking a baby tooth or a root canal?
Still, we know the lines are somewhat ambiguous as to when it’s a good idea to hire an injury lawyer, when you may be fine to wing it, and when your case is pretty much doomed if you don’t have one.
The good news is that most South Florida injury lawyers provide free initial consultations. This can go a long way in helping you make an informed choice about whether a case is worth pursuing and if you need a professional legal advocate’s help. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to talk to a couple of different lawyers at the outset, just to get a few different perspectives on the basics of your case viability, value, and difficulty level.
In addition to injury severity, other factors pertinent to deciding whether it’s wise to hire a Palm Beach injury lawyer:
- Complexity of legal issues at hand. (A minor fender bender, you might be fine to handle on your own. A medical malpractice claim – you’re almost certainly going to need a lawyer just to get a foot in the door.)
- Whether you shared any percentage of fault.
- Whether the injuries have forced you out of work for more than a few days or resulted in permanent disabilities.
- Number of defendants.
- Number of claimants (other people hurt).
- Whether those defendants have insurance (and if so, how much).
- Whether you have applicable insurance (such as underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage).
- Whether the insurers involved are playing nice. (Are they demanding excessive paperwork? Refusing to return your calls? Denying your claim for no reason?)
Most people recognize that hiring a lawyer will help protect their legal rights – but they shy away from calling because of the potential cost. We get it: You’re recovering from an injury, the bills are piling up, and you aren’t working (or aren’t able to go back to the same job). You simply don’t have the extra money for a lawyer.
But the thing is: You don’t have to pay an injury lawyer upfront. In fact, you don’t have to pay them at all if you don’t win. When it comes to Florida personal injury attorney fees, it’s all on a contingency basis. That means you don’t pay attorney’s fees unless and until you win. This is by the legislature’s design. It makes this avenue of legal recourse more accessible to those without a lot of money. It also reduces the odds of frivolous claims, as lawyers aren’t going to take cases with weak evidence and low odds of prevailing.
The second thing to know is that plaintiffs who hire injury lawyers tend to have better outcomes – both in settlement negotiations and in court. That’s not to say a lawyer guarantees a win. They can’t. But a lawyer knows the law, knows what evidence you need to meet the legal standard, knows exactly the sort of defense challenges you’re going to face, and knows the local court system procedures and deadlines. That increases your odds of success. Also, insurers tend not to play as many games when they’re dealing with a lawyer versus a legal layperson. They know if they do, they’ll get called out for bad faith – which can triple the amount they have to pay. That doesn’t guarantee they won’t try to low-ball or drag out a case, but it’s less likely.
In some situations, not hiring a lawyer can lead to major long-term financial and personal consequences. For example, if your injuries are serious and you’re out-of-work and trying to navigate the legal system on your own, it’s very possible (likely, even) that you’ll make a misstep. In so doing, you might forever forego the chance at fair financial recovery. That leaves you stuck holding a huge bag – even when all this happened through no fault of your own and your life is forever changed. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to at least consider whether you can truly take this on during your recovery. Just like there’s no shame in seeing a doctor when you’re sick, there’s no shame in seeing a lawyer when you have a legal issue.
At the very least, we recommend consulting with an injury lawyer as early as possible after the accident so you can at least make an informed decision.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
So Who Needs a Lawyer Anyway? October 2022, By Gary S. Lesser, President, Florida Bar Association
More Blog Entries:
What Happens in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit if the Defendant Dies? Dec. 8, 2022, Palm Beach Injury Lawyer Blog