In the aftermath of a Southeast Florida car accident, there’s no requirement that you MUST hire a Palm Beach personal injury lawyer with a claim for damages. But there is strong statistical evidence that doing so will significantly improve your odds of prevailing with full and fair damages.
One analysis published by the Insurance Research Council a few years ago revealed lawyer-represented crash victims received damage awards that were on average 3.5 times higher compared to those who didn’t hire a lawyer.
This supports much of the previously-established data on this issue.
In a 2010 empirical evidence study published in the peer-reviewed Seattle Journal for Social Justice, researchers conducted meta analysis of other studies dating back decades on how access to a lawyer impacts the outcomes of civil cases – including personal injury claims. What they found was:
- In every study reviewed, “lawyered-up” claimants were far more likely to win. (Exactly how much more likely varied from study-to-study, with most ranging somewhere from 20 percent higher to 4 times higher.) Part of this might be explained by the fact that civil lawyers tend to take on more meritorious cases. But then again, that’s one of the many benefits you get with hiring a Palm Beach injury lawyer: Confidence that you aren’t wasting your time because you’ve got a case worth pursuing.
- To minimize the influence of the merit-based argument, another study involved civil lawyers providing their services at random to a group of sample litigants. The outcomes in their cases were then compared to those of similarly-situated (but non-represented) litigants. Those who had lawyers were 4.4 times more likely to win than those who represented themselves.
- Another analysis concluded that in higher complexity civil cases (including serious personal injuries, medical malpractice, and wrongful death), plaintiffs represented by attorneys were 40 percent more likely to win.
Why Does Hiring a Palm Beach Injury Lawyer Make Such a Difference?
Some of the researchers’ theories about why hiring a lawyer makes such a difference in case outcomes:
- Most people without a law degree or a history of practice in a particular area of law aren’t even sure what their legal problems are. For instance, in a Florida car accident case, it’s not enough to simply hand over a police report. To successfully collect damages from a third-party insurer or your own UM/UIM carrier, the legal proof burden typically requires detailed and convincing proof of crash causation, defendant identity/fault/vicarious liability, the severity of injuries (and whether they meet the “serious injury threshold” as outlined in F.S. 627.737 needed to step outside Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system), counterarguments of comparative/shared negligence, statute of limitations deadlines, etc. Some elements may require expert witness analysis/testimony. People unfamiliar with Florida tort law can quickly find themselves out of their depths even with “just a car accident case” – perhaps not even sure whether they even have a viable, valuable claim, especially if the defendant’s insurer is telling them otherwise.
- The legal process is confusing. Court procedure can be dizzying – and varied not only from state-to-state, but district-to-district. Knowing what legal forms to file (and where), what evidence is admissible, how to collect/effectively use that evidence, how to write pleadings, how to file motions, how to present legal arguments, when all deadlines need to be met – it’s incredibly tough to translate your goals into legal terms if you aren’t a lawyer.
- Underrepresented people aren’t negotiating with defendants/insurers from a position of strength and knowledge. Know that when it comes to car accident claims, insurance companies have a fundamental conflict of interest between compensating you fairly for your claim and maximizing their own profits. They also have a number of disparate advantages because they control the resources to which claimants are seeking access. Insurers seeking to limit or avoid liability are often correct in presuming that unrepresented claimants don’t fully know their legal rights/the relevant legal procedures/the full extent of damages to which they’re entitled. That means there’s likely to be little pushback if the claimant is pressured to sign off on a lowball settlement offer. That same tactic usually won’t fly if negotiations involve an experienced South Florida plaintiff injury lawyer; insurers are often less likely to even try it. If they do, at the very least they know that the plaintiff’s attorney will be carefully documenting these interactions – which can potentially be used as evidence of bad faith insurance if they step too far out-of-line.
Keep in mind that with civil tort claims involving personal injuries that attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis. That means we aren’t paid unless we win. This setup allows those with meritorious claims access to the services of a qualified Palm Beach personal injury lawyer even if they don’t have the money upfront to pay one. And most injury attorneys in Palm Beach – including ours – offer initial consultations to review the basics of the case completely free of charge.
If you have questions, 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.
The Impact of Counsel: An Analysis of Empirical Evidence, November 2010, Seattle Journal for Social Justice
More Blog Entries:
How Are Palm Beach Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out in Florida? July 29, 2023, Palm Beach Injury Lawyer Blog