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Do I Need a Lawyer for a Personal Injury Claim?

If you are injured due to the negligence of another person, you have every right to file a claim for compensation. 

You may wonder if you can sue for personal injury without a lawyer? Legally, yes. You can represent yourself, but it involves a lot of work that could be taken off your shoulders by hiring a lawyer.

To better understand how personal injury lawsuits work, this article will explain what you should know if you decide to represent yourself, compared to what a lawyer can do to get compensation.

Serious injuries that fall under the claim for damages

Being injured in an accident is not enough to qualify you for compensation in New York. You can only file a claim for damages if you meet the threshold for “serious injury” as defined by the Consolidated New York State Law: Insurance (ISL) §5102(d). Examples of serious injuries include:

  • Serious scarring or deformity
  • Dismemberment
  • Loss of a limb, organ, or other important body function
  • Loss of the ability to use a limb, organ or other important function of the body
  • Death

You can still claim compensation if you didn't receive any of these specific injuries. However, it is your responsibility to prove that your damage meets the threshold of serious injury. 

Medical documentation about your wounds and how they have progressed in the healing process can help in your case.

Compensation to which You may be entitled in connection with the Damage caused to You

Compensation is money awarded to accident victims as compensation for injuries or any money lost as a result of an accident. 

Without a lawyer, you have to convince the insurance company or a jury that you deserve the compensation you demand. The money you can return is usually divided into three groups:

  • Economic damage
  • Non-economic damage
  • Punitive damages
  • Economic damage

Economic damage covers costs that have a direct and easily identifiable monetary value. The purpose of compensation for economic damage is to directly replace money that has been lost or will be lost in the future. Total economic damage may include:

  • Medical expenses: 
This may also apply to ongoing medical care due to your injuries.
  • Lost income: 
You stopped going to work for a while because of your injuries.
  • Lost earning potential: 
You can't go back to work or you can only come back in a reduced quality.
  • Material damage: 
Your car or other personal property has been damaged or destroyed as a result of the incident.

Other expenses: Any other personal expenses that you have incurred because your injuries have prevented you from doing normal activities, such as caring for children or running a household.

Non-economic damage

Non-economic damage is much more difficult to quantify. Adequate compensation for these costs is difficult to measure, because the losses are priceless. 

Because of this, non-economic damage, as a rule, makes up the largest part of the compensation package. General non-economic losses may include:

  • Pain and Suffering: 

Your injuries have caused you physical and emotional suffering.

  • Deformity or scarring: 

Your appearance has somehow changed forever because of your injuries.

  • Consortium Loss: 

Your injuries have negatively impacted your ability to maintain an intimate relationship with your spouse.

punitive damages

Unlike the above losses, punitive damages are not compensation to the victim for any losses incurred by him. Instead, these damages are intended to punish the responsible party. 

Punitive damages are awarded only if the actions of the responsible party are considered particularly egregious.

Understanding The Associated Negligence

If you are partially responsible for an accident, in accordance with the New York State Law and Civil Practice Rules §1411, you are still entitled to compensation under the state negligence law. 

However, the greater your share of responsibility, the less money you can get. And without a lawyer, you may end up taking on more than your fair share of the blame.

What A Personal Injury Lawyer In New York Can Do For You

By hiring an experienced New York injury law firm with experience in obtaining positive results, you will be able to relieve tension and focus on a calm recovery after an accident. Some additional tasks that a lawyer can help you with include:

  • Evidence Collection: 

Your lawyer can review all available evidence, including medical records and police reports, to substantiate your claims.

Determining the damages to which you are entitled: The lawyer will check that you are requesting the appropriate amounts in dollars and that you have not forgotten to request the money to which you are entitled.

  • Filing a claim: 

Your lawyer can take care of the documents and communications related to your case.

  • Meeting with the insurance company: 

Your lawyer can advise you on how to approach the settlement offer from the insurance company. They can also tell you what other legal measures should be taken if an agreement cannot be reached.

  • Representation of your interests in court: 

If you do not settle your case, your lawyer can take your case to court and schedule a trial.

The cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer

If you have financial concerns about hiring a personal injury lawyer, many law firms operate on a contingency basis. These firms collect their fees only if you win compensation. 

This payment structure means that anyone can get an experienced legal representative without any risk in the event of a claim for injury to health.

On average, those who hire a personal injury lawyer tend to receive much more money after settling the case than those who try to represent themselves. 

Even after the lawyer deducted his fee from the compensation package, the amount remaining with the client is usually significantly more.

The structure of the payment of the contingency fee can give victims of injuries the confidence that their lawyer will do everything in his power to ensure victory. 

Since the lawyer's fee is a percentage of the final settlement, you can also be sure that your lawyer will make every effort to get as much money as possible.

Although it may seem that you are saving money by considering a personal injury case without a lawyer, your chances of getting a settlement agreement or compensation are much higher with one lawyer.

Common Mistakes That Accident Victims Make Without A Lawyer

Without many years of experience in reviewing personal injury claims and being in the legal environment, mistakes are often made. 

Victims often make mistakes when reviewing their accident claims without a lawyer. These mistakes can easily undermine their chances of receiving compensation.

  • Giving a recorded statement

Most insurance claims settlement specialists inform victims that they need a written statement before making a settlement offer. Insurance agents will use anything you say to refute your claim, or they will use this information to cross-examine you in court.

  • Is Your Settlement Requirement Too Big or Too Small

While asking for too little means that you don't enjoy all the benefits of receiving compensation, asking for too much in recovery can also have disadvantages. If your demand goes beyond what the business is worth, you show that you do not fully understand the value of your business.

  • Acceptance of the Final offer of the Insurance Company

Personal injury insurance lawyers want to pay you as little as possible and often present their offer as a final offer. People representing themselves, as a rule, do not have any experience of raising funds for a higher amount. Many victims accept the first offer and leave. Always keep asking for more money.

  • Ignoring the Deadlines for filing a Claim for harm to health

There is a deadline set by the State for filing lawsuits for each type of accident. According to the New York Statute of limitations, you must file a claim within three years after the accident. 

However, in some cases, this period may be much shorter. Misunderstanding these special situations may lead to the fact that you will miss the opportunity to apply at all.

  • Not Including All Of Your Accident Losses

Make sure you know what New York State law prescribes for damages, and sue for every dollar. You don't want to leave money on the table because this agreement could change your future.

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