It is impossible to answer the question of whether you need a personal injury attorney when submitting a claim to insurance without knowing more about the claim.
You are not required by law to retain an attorney to handle an insurance claim.
However, that does not mean you should not consult a personal injury attorney about an accident or injury claim.
Some people can file an insurance claim and settle the claim without a personal injury lawyer’s help. However, there are also many reasons that filing an insurance claim without an attorney could prove costly.
Common Insurance Claims Related to Accidents and Injuries
There are many reasons why you might need to file an insurance claim. For example, Alabama drivers are required to purchase minimum amounts of liability insurance for accident accidents.
If a driver causes a car accident, victims can file insurance claims against the at-fault driver’s car insurance coverage.
If a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider causes injuries because of medical negligence or errors, medical malpractice insurance may cover the claim. Likewise, if a defective product causes an injury, the manufacturer or other at-fault party might have liability insurance to cover the claim.
Most property owners have homeowner’s insurance policies or commercial insurance policies to cover injuries and damages caused by slip and fall accidents, dog bites, or other premises liability claims.
Nursing homes, construction companies, daycares, and other companies have general liability insurance policies that cover accident and injury claims. Workers’ compensation insurance covers most accidents that occur on the job.
Why Should I File an Insurance Claim for an Accident or Injury?
When you are injured because of another party’s mistakes, errors, negligence, or other wrongdoing, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Damages in a personal injury claim can include:
- Cost of personal care and medical care
- Loss of wages, bonuses, commissions, salaries, benefits, and other sources of income
- Future damages caused by permanent disabilities and impairments, such as long-term care and decreases in earning capacity
- Mental, physical, and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life
Liability insurance compensates you for your damages when the insured is responsible for the cause of your injury. Generally, you must prove the legal elements of negligence to recover compensation for an insurance claim. The elements are:
- The party owed you a duty of care
- The party breached the duty of care
- The breach created the situation that caused your injury
- You sustained damages because of your injury
Many accident victims do not have the resources, skills, or knowledge of the law to investigate a negligence claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer handles all aspects of your claim, including gathering evidence to prove fault and liability.
When is it Okay to Submit an Insurance Claim Without a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If the insurance company does not dispute liability for the claim and agrees to pay the amount you demand to settle the claim, you might not need an attorney’s help. However, you need to make sure that you include all damages in the claim, and you calculate the maximum value for your personal injury claim.
Once you accept a settlement offer and sign a settlement agreement, your claim ends. Attorneys who work for the insurance company draft the settlement agreements. Most agreements release all claims and parties, known and unknown, from further liability.
What that means for you is that you cannot recover any more money for your injury claim. It applies even if you discover additional injuries, claims, or liable parties. If you are unsure about the language in the settlement agreement, it might be best to allow an attorney to review the agreement before you sign it.
Are There Factors That Indicate I Need an Attorney to Handle My Insurance Claim?
Simple cases that do not involve disputes regarding liability or damages might be okay to settle without an attorney.
However, some factors can complicate a personal injury case.
If any of the following situations apply in your case, you should seek legal counsel before proceeding to file an insurance claim:
- The insurance company or other party denies liability for the claim
- You are being blamed for contributing to the cause of the accident
- You sustained catastrophic injuries or permanent disabilities
- Your child was injured in the accident
- The accident involves complex areas of laws such as cases involving premises liability, birth injuries, wrongful death, product liability, nursing home liability, or dangerous drugs and defective medical devices
- Your financial damages are substantial
- You will be unable to work because of a disabling condition
- You require long-term personal care and/or medical care
- You have not completed medical treatment, and the statute of limitations (the deadline to file a lawsuit) is about to expire
- A government entity, employee, or vehicle is involved in the case
Any one of the above situations could result in a complicated personal injury case. These cases require specialized knowledge of the legal system, laws, evidence, and damages.
For example, if the insurance company tries to blame you for the accident, it might be trying to avoid paying any money for your claim. Alabama uses a pure contributory negligence standard for accident claims. If you were just one percent at fault for the cause of your injury, you cannot recover any money for your injuries and damages.
Cases involving medical malpractice and defective products often require experts to assist in investigating the cause of your injury. Experts are necessary to provide the evidence and testimony required to prove negligence and liability for a claim.
Accidents involving children can also be challenging. A child could sustain a brain injury, spinal cord injury, or another traumatic injury that has the potential of long-term impairments. Medical experts and other professionals may need to be consulted regarding the future damages that a child might sustain because of an accident or injury.
The key takeaway is that what appears to be a simple personal injury claim could quickly become a contested personal injury lawsuit. Whenever you have questions or you are unsure what to do, seeking legal counsel is the best way to protect yourself and your family.
Call Our Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
You do not need to worry about how to pay for the legal advice you need. Our Alabama personal injury lawyers offer free consultations for accident victims and their families. You can learn about your legal rights and your options for recovering compensation during a free case review.
It can be difficult to know when you need to hire a personal injury attorney to help you with an insurance claim. We want to make sure that you are able to get the advice you need about your case before making a decision that could greatly impact your life.