I'd like to handle this on my own, but I'm also wondering if there is any data that shows that having an attorney handle it results in a larger settlement?
I know of no data that shows whether having an attorney helps you get a larger settlement or not. I would question any data though because who would fund it: insurance companies or attorneys.
I believe hiring an attorney will get you a larger settlement in most instances, probably not in all instances, such as where the insurance coverage is small and the liabilty is large. However, even in those cases the attorney may be able to find coverage you didn't know about. After having been an attorney for 20 years, I can tell you that in the practice of law you can learn so much as you continue to practice, from your cases and watching the law develop. I think you should hire an attorney.
There have been studies which indicate that claimants represented by counsel acheive larger settlements. Whether you believe these studies, I believe most claimants will benefit by retaining counsel, even accounting for the fact that they have to share a part of their recovery with their contingency fee attorney. This is particularly the case for larger and medium-sized cases. For very small cases, it is possible that the proceeds will be "eaten up" by the contingency fee, and the claimant may be better off settling the case himself or herself. Even then, it may be beneficial to retain an attorney. I think all claimants benefit by speaking with potential attorneys. Many personal injury attorneys provide free consultation, and you may learn things about your case you were not aware of or had not considered. You can make a more informed decsion to hire or not hire an attorney after such consultation.
You could handle your own claim, however, if you needed brain surgery, would you attempt to do your own surgery on your kitchen table? Attorneys who specialize in personal injuries have a great deal of background in legal procedure, medical issues and damages. The insurance carriers have well trained defense attorneys who will do everything to try and put a hole in your case.
You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
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Your question is whether there is data supporting larger settlements if one is represented by an attorney. There is data that indicates you will likely obtain a higher settlement if represented by an attorney, but I don't know exactly how the data was collected or how biased the study was. Suffice to say, however, that hiring a lawyer is your best bet in most cases--except for maybe small claims court. That 's just common sense, regardless of what some study says. I am an attorney and I would not even want to represent myself.
That is a difficult question to answer. That said, in my 12+ years of personal injury practice, I have seen first hand that when someone is unrepresented, insurance companies often make offers that do not represent the full value of the victim's claim. Often times, their offer to the unrepresented claimant is barely sufficient to cover the uncovered medical bills and does not take into account future medical expenses, lost wages, or general damages for pain and suffering. Having an experienced attorney to protect your legal rights is invaluable and in most instances will result in maximum recovery.
Charles Spinner, Jr., Esq.
Spinner Law Firm, P.A.
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