Statistically, people who hire personal injury lawyers win their claims a higher percentage of the time and win more money than those who attempt to represent themselves. You might not even be sure whether you have a viable claim at this point. The following factors illustrate when you should contact a personal injury lawyer for a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
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Your Claim Involves a Large Amount of Money
How much money are you asking for? Better put, how much money should you be asking for? In many cases, a personal injury lawyer can give you a ballpark figure after an initial consultation. If your claim is large, you can be almost certain that the opposing party will oppose your claim.
The Insurance Company Is Unreasonably Delaying Settlement
Under most circumstances, California law requires personal injury victims to file a lawsuit or sign a settlement agreement within two years of the accident that led to the claim. If you miss the deadline, the court will not hear your case. Insurance companies know this, and they will sometimes plague you with numerous small delays, hoping you forget about the statute of limitations deadline.
If the insurance company’s behavior is outrageous enough, you might have a viable bad faith insurance claim to assert on top of your personal injury claim. Although these claims are hard to win, they are worth consulting with your lawyer about.
Most of the Evidence Is in the Possession of the Opposing Party
In some personal injury cases, you don’t have direct access to the information and physical evidence necessary to support an otherwise valid claim. This might happen if, for example, you need medical records to support a medical malpractice claim.
The likely solution to this problem is to file a formal lawsuit and commence the pretrial discovery process. The discovery process will allow you to perform the following acts, among others:
- Interview [possible witnesses under oath;
- Send the opposing party written questions, which they must answer under oath; and
- Demand access to physical evidence.
If the opposing party refuses to cooperate, you can ask the court to compel cooperation through sanctions. If you gather enough favorable evidence, you might gain enough bargaining power to compel the other party to settle your claim before trial in exchange for you withdrawing the lawsuit.
You Were Partly at Fault
California’s pure comparative fault personal injury compensation system applies when more than one party is at fault for the accident. When this happens, California will apportion damages among the parties based on their percentage of fault. If you are asking for a sizable amount of money, the opposing party will likely seek to chip away at their own liability and add to yours by finding ways to blame you for the accident that caused your injury.
Your Claim is Technically Complex
Both medical malpractice and product liability claims tend to involve complexities that require expert testimony to resolve. Other types of claims can be complex as well. This probably means you will need an expert witness’s testimony to win. An experienced personal injury lawyer should have established working relationships with professional expert witnesses.
“Professional” means that you pay these witnesses for their impartial evaluation and testimony. Many expert witnesses have abandoned their professional practices to serve as expert witnesses on a full-time basis. Although the opposing party’s lawyer will probably make sure the court knows that you are paying the witness to testify, using expert witnesses is routine in certain types of personal injury cases.
You Are Experiencing Significant Pain and Suffering
“Pain and suffering” means the suffering you endure because of a physical injury. How do you measure something as intangible as this? Well, courts do it every day. Typically, they use one of two methods:
- The per diem method, in which you assign a daily value to your pain and suffering ($100 per day, for example); or
- In the multiplier method, you take your economic damages (medical expenses, lost earnings, etc.) and multiply them by a number between 1.5 and 5.
The assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer can exert a tremendous influence on exactly how your pain and suffering damages are calculated.
You Suffered a Long-Term Disability
When you file a claim for personal injury, you need to ask for every penny you will ever need to compensate you for that particular injury. Once you sign a settlement agreement or receive a court decision, you won’t be able to come back and demand more money later.
If you are suffering from a long-term disability requiring future medical treatment and rehabilitation, how do you know how much to ask for? This is where a skilled personal injury lawyer can really help. You may also need an expert witness to help you calculate the size of your claim for future medical expenses.
You Are Filing a Claim on Behalf of Your Child
In California, a minor (under 18 years old) cannot file a lawsuit even for their injury. Instead, a parent or guardian must file the lawsuit on their behalf. Emotions run high when you are seeking compensation for your child’s injury due to someone else’s misconduct. It can be difficult to maintain your objectivity under these circumstances. A seasoned personal injury lawyer can help you maintain your objectivity and make appropriate care decisions.
You Are Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim arises if someone dies in an accident that would otherwise have generated a personal injury claim. Wrongful death claims are high-value and work differently than personal injury claims. Nevertheless, an experienced personal injury lawyer is almost certain to have handled numerous wrongful death claims. In California, a close relative of the victim is generally the person who files a wrongful death claim.
Sometimes a Personal Injury Lawyer Is a Practical Necessity
People sometimes successfully handle small personal injury claims on their own. With a lawyer, however, you are (i) more likely to receive compensation and (ii) more likely to receive a generous offer. If you even suspect that you have a sizable personal injury claim, contact Mission Personal Injury Lawyers by filling out our online contact form or by calling our office at (619) 777-5555.
We work on a contingency fee basis. That means you will owe us nothing upfront and never owe us anything unless we win your claim, either at the bargaining table or, if necessary, in court. Our legal fee is a pre-agreed percentage of the total amount of compensation.