If you are injured because of a car accident, medical malpractice, truck accident, or slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for damages. Generally, after an accident or injury, the first step is to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is not legally required to file an insurance claim. However, submitting a claim is the easiest part of the claims process. From that point forward, you are dealing with trained insurance professionals who have one goal: to pay as little as possible to resolve your claim.
Can I Handle an Insurance Claim Without a Lawyer?
If you have a thorough understanding of personal injury claims, you might be able to handle your insurance claim without an attorney. However, most people do not have experience filing these claims.
Unfortunately, insurance companies take advantage of a person’s lack of knowledge regarding insurance laws, damages, and personal injury statutes. Thus, a person’s lack of knowledge can result in the insurance company decreasing the value of a claim or denying a valid injury claim.
The insurance company has a team of professionals protecting its best interest. Claims adjusters, investigators, and insurance lawyers work to decrease the company’s liability for a claim. Without a legal team working to protect your best interests, you might not achieve your desired outcome.
Should I Talk to an Augusta Personal Injury Lawyer Before Filing an Insurance Claim?
Most personal injury attorneys in Augusta, GA offer free consultations for accident victims and their families. Therefore, it does not cost you anything to obtain legal advice before submitting an insurance claim.
You have the right to legal counsel. Your insurance agent and the claims adjuster are not looking out for your best interests. They are not trusted sources of legal advice.
Talking with a personal injury lawyer about your case can help you avoid costly mistakes. A good lawyer will provide honest assessments of your claim while explaining your legal options. If they don’t think you need their services, they should tell you.
Situations That Indicate You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Some factors can complicate a personal injury insurance claim.
Situations that strongly indicate you should hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case include, but are not limited to:
- Your case involves a government entity, commercial vehicle, or multiple parties
- The insurance company denies your claim without an investigation or without providing an adequate explanation
- You sustained catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, amputations, spinal cord injuries, damage to internal organs, or paralysis
- The accident caused permanent impairments, significant disfigurement, or disabilities
- Your child was injured in an accident or other incident
- A family member died because of an accident or other personal injury
- Your case involves complex areas of personal injury law, including product liability, wrongful death, medical malpractice, or premises liability
- The other party alleges that you contributed to the cause of the accident or your injury
Georgia’s statute of limitations restricts your time to file personal injury lawsuits. The deadlines depend on the type of case, the parties involved, and other factors.
It is always wise to talk with a lawyer to determine the applicable deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit. There are exceptions to the general rules that could apply in your case. Missing the filing deadline means you cannot pursue your claim through the court.
What Happens if I Accept an Insurance Settlement Without a Lawyer?
You can sign a settlement agreement from the insurance company without legal representation. However, that is not in your best interest unless you know the settlement amount compensates for all losses.
Settlement agreements are legally binding contracts. The agreements prepared by insurance companies typically include language that releases all parties from all claims.
In other words, you cannot sue any parties after signing the agreement. Even if you discover you need surgery or could have sued another party, the settlement agreement likely bars you from taking further action to recover damages.
Therefore, before you sign a settlement agreement, make sure you know how much your claim is worth.
What Damages Can I Recover for a Personal Injury Claim?
Most personal injury settlements include compensation for economic and non-economic damages.
Examples of damages in a personal injury case include:
- Medical bills and cost of treatment
- Cost of personal care and long-term nursing care
- Loss of income, including future lost wages, benefits, and decreases in earning potential
- Physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
- Impairments, disabilities, and disfigurement
- Out-of-pocket expenses
The value of your damages depends on the facts of your case. Generally, cases involving catastrophic injuries or disabling conditions are worth more because it costs more to treat these conditions. Additionally, permanent impairments typically result in ongoing care and future loss of income.
On the other hand, some factors could decrease the value of your damages. For example, if you are partially to blame for the cause of your accident or injury, Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws might apply. As a result, the court may reduce the amount you receive for damages by the percentage of fault the jury assigns you for the cause of the accident.
You could also be entitled to punitive damages if a person intentionally caused your injury, was grossly negligent, or acted with a willful, wanton disregard for the safety of others. However, punitive damages are not available in all personal injury cases. And, the insurance company will not tell you if you could recover punitive damages by filing a lawsuit. You need a personal injury attorney to review your case for facts that support an award of punitive damages.
Tips for Protecting Your Right to Fair Compensation for Personal Injury Damages
Things to keep in mind after an injury or accident include:
- Report the accident to create an official record
- Seek immediate medical attention for injuries
- Do not admit fault or provide written or recorded statements to the insurance company
- Avoid signing authorizations for medical records
- Do not accept a settlement without legal advice
As soon as possible, speak with an Augusta personal injury attorney. Get the facts about personal injury cases from an experienced legal advocate for injury victims.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Augusta Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Insurance Claim
The best way to know whether you need a personal injury lawyer is to schedule a free consultation to discuss your insurance claim. An experienced Augusta personal injury lawyer will evaluate the facts of your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.