Injuries come in all shapes and forms. They can include broken bones, internal injuries, brain injuries, as well as emotional and suffering aspects from a traumatic event that have a negative impact on the victim’s life. At our law firm, we use jury verdict statistics, our years of experience, and a host of other tools and methods to analyze outcomes.
In cases where damages are relatively low and injuries are not permanent, you might be able to settle the case on your own and save money doing so. In our office, there are some cases where that’s true, and we will do our best to get a good picture of the liability and damages aspects of your case during your consultation. If we determine that you may be better off not paying an attorney to assist you, we will tell you that and encourage you to get a second opinion.
But there are two main things to consider before making the choice to handle your case without the help of an expert in the field.
Number One: Getting The Full Value Of Your Claim
Just because liability is clear, you need to remember that there are two primary factors in every case: liability and damages. Arriving at damages is an art that you are not as equipped to calculate as an experienced personal injury law firm is. It is important to identify all the damages that you are entitled to, document and present them in a way that satisfies the insurance company’s audit needs.
Number Two: Avoiding Illegal “Double Payment”
Remember that medical expenses and lost wages are special or pecuniary damages that are a measurable part of the overall worth of your claim.
Often, before your personal injury claim is settled and paid out, you will receive coverage from entities like your own insurance company, workers’ compensation insurance, or disability insurance. The thing is, you aren’t allowed to “double dip” on coverage for your accident.
This means that when you receive a compensation award for your personal injury claim, you have to use a portion of those funds to repay any insurance program that has provided you with coverage throughout the claims process.
More often than not, when you work with an attorney, there is a bit of an exception that gives you the opportunity to save on this aspect of your case. This is because under Indiana law, when your insurance company recovers money from a personal injury claim that an attorney has worked on, they are responsible for paying one-third of what they recover to the lawyer. This does not increase what the attorney receives – it simply deducts that portion of the attorney fee that comes out of your recovery.
So, if you file the personal injury claim by yourself, you are responsible for using your settlement to fully reimburse any person or company who paid you but who was not responsible for your injuries. If, however, you did retain an attorney, you only have to reimburse them two-thirds of what they paid out. (If the health insurer is a fully-funded ERISA plan, this will not always work the same way because ERISA is a plan set up under Federal law, and Federal law will override a State law).
If the attorney can demonstrate that your case is worth more than what you can negotiate on your own, in the end, your recovery will be greater, and the amount you have to reimburse will be less. Thus, an attorney can help you end up in a better position monetarily for two reasons:
- An attorney is better equipped to document the nature and scope of your injuries, which may result in a higher payment from the insurance company.
- The attorney’s fees are going to be partially covered by those fees that you otherwise would have had to pay back for “double recovery”.
A Quick Note From Years Of Experience
Keep in mind that in Indiana, people are rewarded for hard work, toughness, and perseverance. People in our great State don’t like whining, lying, and exaggerating. Consequently, my clients who downplay their injuries, who make deliberate efforts to do everything they can to get back to work rather than run up lost wages, are more credible and more likable. They are more likely to get higher compensation from the other insurance company than people who whine, complain, exaggerate, and lie.
Never exaggerate your injuries. Don’t talk about your injuries to anyone who doesn’t need to know. If your injuries affect your daily life, those impacts will become apparent and speak for themselves. Don’t talk about how you’ve hired an attorney, especially to medical doctors. To many – especially doctors – if you’re focused on litigation, you’re focused on the wrong thing.
Rather, if you’re focused on what you can do to get yourself better and restore yourself to good health and a normal life including work and family, then you’re focused on the right things; we at the law firm of Thomas E. Scifres take care of the rest. We can do our job better when you do your best to get better.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Personal Injury Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.