Introduction

Many people who get involved in traffic accidents don’t want to hire a lawyer. They want to save money and don’t want to pay the attorney 33 1/3% of the recovery. They figure they can do it themselves. This article addresses the pitfalls in trying to handle a case on your own.

Pre-Litigation

Statistics show that the settlement value of a case increases by three times when a lawyer is involved. Why? A skillful lawyer knows the evidence needed to support a claim. The lawyer also knows how to present the claim to an insurance adjuster effectively. As former insurance company lawyers, we know the red flags an adjuster looks for to discount a case. As an example, a claims examiner will often look for delays or gaps in treatment to attack the credibility of the injury claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer can spot those problems and present a viable reason or explanation for the delay or gap. There are many other issues that an insurance company will seek to exploit. It essentially boils down to knowledge. At MCIS, we know how the insurance company attacks a case and can make sure your claim does not fall prey to those attacks.

As trial lawyers, we know how to evaluate a case properly. There are many factors to consider. Some of the essential elements include the nature and extent of the collision, the biomechanics involved, the examination findings, the results of diagnostic testing, the diagnosis, the course of treatment and the value of that treatment, to name a few. Someone acting without an attorney does not have the knowledge or experience to know what particular factors are essential in his or her case.

Most often, the insurance company’s view of the case begins and ends during the pre-litigation phase. It is tough to change an adjuster’s thinking about a case once he or she forms an initial impression. Good injury claims are ruined by the failure to present them well in the beginning.

Litigation

We cannot stress enough the importance of having a lawyer after the filing of a lawsuit. There are complex rules of procedure to be followed. The failure to follow those rules results in monetary sanctions and worse, the dismissal of your case.

Insurance companies look forward to litigating lawsuits brought by individuals acting on their own. Why? Experienced defense attorneys take advantage of unrepresented plaintiffs-especially at trial. Trials are complicated. There are many deadlines. Many motions and other documents are necessary. The failure to timely file the correct records results in dismissal.

Because an unrepresented plaintiff does not know the rules, he or she spends most of the time reacting to the defense. They spend all their time responding to discovery requests or motions. As a result, they are not actively prosecuting the case and getting the information needed to win.

Even in a simple car crash case, some pre-trial motions can determine the outcome. The defense attorney knows the many actions to take. Defense lawyers count of the ignorance of the unrepresented plaintiff. A competent trial lawyer on your behalf knows how to address and defeat those actions.

Trial lawyers spend a lifetime perfecting their craft. It is not easy trying a case. In addition to knowing procedures and rules of evidence, a trial lawyer must know how to present the story effectively. The lawyer must know how to select a jury that will be receptive to the plaintiff’s position. An effective opening statement is critical. There is an art to telling a compelling story. The examination of witnesses is also essential, as is knowing when to object to prevent harmful information from being heard.

Conclusion

We strongly recommend against handling a personal injury claim on your own. There are too many pitfalls that can adversely affect your recovery. You should contact MCIS for a free evaluation of your case.