Periodically, victims of car or truck crashes contact our law firm and ask whether they need a lawyer to bring such a claim?
From a literal standpoint the answer is no but there are a plethora of reasons why having a competent lawyer with experience in personal injury cases is enormously advantageous.
First, lay-people aren't routinely aware of the different benefits that may be available to a car crash victim. These can include ones associated with vehicle loss or damage, medical or lost income benefits and of course benefits to compensate them for their injuries, pain and suffering.
Second, benefits or coverages often overlap, such as personal injury protection ( PIP) and workers compensation and that interplay can provide some advantages that are quite nuanced. For example Maryland PIP benefits can pay medical bills and lost wages as can workers compensation, but workers compensation benefits received serve as a lien on any settlement of the underlying car crash claim.
One might ultimately elect to receive workers comp but a thoughtful analysis could reasonably result in electing PIP instead.
Third, avenues for receiving compensation are sometimes more numerous than merely pursuing liability benefits from the at-fault driver. Again as an example, if a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle they can pursue PIP benefits and liablity benefits from the at-fault driver's insurance.
Fourth, many injured people miss time from work but aren't aware of what the requirements are to make a claim for these benefits which are often hotly contested by insurance companies. A medical excuse is routinely required along with a document from the employer reflecting the time period missed and the amount of compensation lost.
Fifth, the art of claim valuation is acquired over many cases and many years and can't be adequately imparted to a lay-person in an article or discussion. The variables that persuade judges or jurors to award more or less money are often subtle matters of proper presentation.
Finally, as lawyers who have done literally thousands of such cases,we know that insurance companies are structured to under-offer and underpay virtually all cases. The final " best offer" often is vastly less than what would be routinely awarded by a judge or jury and sometimes a case has to be tried to demonstrate this fact.
Trying a personal injury case without an experienced lawyer is a recipe for disaster even for lay-people who have participated in such a case previously.
So smaller cases may be okay to do on your own but given the fact that most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations why not at least speak to a lawyer so you don't miss something significant.