The best answer to the question in our headline— is yes. The law will allow you to represent your own interests against an insurance company, both in negotiations or even at a trial.
The more important question, however, is whether you should try to negotiate a car accident injury claim without a lawyer. Is it wise? In your best interest? What problems might you encounter if you do it alone? What are the benefits of hiring a car accident lawyer?
You might be asking whether hiring a lawyer is likely to get you more money.
As Columbus, OH auto accident lawyers, we understand those questions and why you’re asking them. Pursuing an insurance claim is a big decision, and you might worry that talking to a lawyer will complicate things, or cost you more money than they’re worth. After all, there’s a lot on the line.
Below is a frank and straightforward discussion about whether you should negotiate a car accident injury claim without a lawyer and why.
Some Car Accident Claims Won’t Benefit from a Lawyer’s Help
There are a lot of good reasons for letting a lawyer handle your claim. The right attorney should be able to add value to your claim, or at least have a reasonable shot at doing so (legal outcomes are unpredictable and there is no such thing as a guaranteed result).
Car accidents that are relatively minor in nature are unlikely to benefit from a lawyer’s assistance.
I’m not just talking about the tiny accidents in which neither vehicle has so much as a scratch.
In those cases, you likely know you don’t need a lawyer in that situation; it’s obvious. There’s no damage to claim! (Though you do still need to call law enforcement before leaving the scene and still notify your car insurance provider… no matter how small the accident may be.)
Even more moderate car accidents might not need a lawyer. For example, if there is moderate property damage to your car but zero injuries of any kind, and if you didn’t suffer any emotional distress, and a doctor has cleared you, and there’s enough insurance on the table to cover the property damage, you probably don’t need to hire a lawyer. Sure, you have a property damage claim to pursue, and that might involve a little negotiating with the insurance company. But, generally speaking, there might not be enough money on the table in these situations for an attorney to add any real value to your claim.
Here’s when you don’t want to negotiate a car accident injury claim on your own:
- There are physical injuries.
- You’ve incurred significant medical expenses or other out-of-pocket costs.
- You’ve had to miss work because of your injuries or recovery.
- There are enormous property damages.
- The insurance company is unfairly denying your claim.
- The insurance company has offered you an unreasonably low settlement.
- The insurance company is dragging out your case or refusing to respond.
- The insurance adjustor is putting a lot of pressure on you to make a recorded statement or to rush into a release agreement.
- The claim is complex or multiple parties are involved.
In any of these situations, it’s in your best interest to talk with an experienced Columbus auto accident attorney before saying another word to the insurance adjustors.
Before we go any further, you should understand that many personal injury attorneys (including ours here at Colombo Law) will represent car accident victims on a contingency fee basis. That means:
- You don’t have to pay us anything until your claim is resolved.
- If you don’t get any money for your claim, you don’t have to pay us one penny.
- If you do get money for your claim, our total fee will only be a percentage of your total recovery.
- In the meantime, we will advance the costs of investigation, litigation, and (if necessary) trial.
In other words, hiring a Columbus auto accident attorney to handle your claim won’t cost you anything upfront or out of pocket. In a very practical sense, there is nothing to lose. We take all the risk, and we do that because we are confident in our ability to add value to your claim.
The Insurance Companies Are Not on Your Side
Insurance corporations talk a big game about their friendly disposition. They want you to believe that they are good neighbors with helping hands who stand on your side.
They are not on your side.
Insurance companies are supposed to handle claims honestly and fairly but they are not required to represent your best interests the way an attorney would.
On the contrary, insurance companies have only one goal: saving themselves money. They will do whatever they can to reduce or deny your claim. And they’re very good at it. In fact, they have enormous teams of experienced adjustors and aggressive attorneys helping them. They also have virtually endless financial resources on their side with pockets so deep that you could never begin to match them on your own.
People Who Hire a Lawyer Tend to Get More Money
Studies have consistently shown that personal injury victims who are represented by an attorney tend to recover larger amounts of money than people who try to handle the case on their own.
Personal injury attorneys have a job to do: represent your interests, fight for your rights, and do everything they can to maximize your compensation.
Insurance companies know this. They know that a non-attorney is unlikely to take a claim to trial, and that even if the case does go to court, a self-represented victim is unlikely to succeed against their sophisticated legal team. The claims process is complex and difficult to navigate. So is the law. Insurance companies will use this as leverage against you.
It is often the case that insurance adjustors do not begin to negotiate a claim fairly until the victim hires a lawyer.
Time and Money
Getting the compensation you deserve can take time. Insurance companies are happy to settle quickly as long as you settle on their terms, but demanding a fair shot sometimes means a lengthier process.
Likewise, negotiating a favorable settlement entails certain expenses along the way: investigating the accident, consulting with expert witnesses, paying court costs and filling fees, etc. But here’s the thing… there’s no reason for you to be paying for those things out of pocket as you go along. As an individual trying to keep pace with an insurance corporation, the burden is just too onerous.
This is why it’s so important for you to choose a law firm that has the financial wherewithal to finance your case from beginning to end.
That’s something we promise our clients at Colombo Law. We have extensive resources as a law firm. We advance the costs of our clients’ cases. We believe that your current financial standing after an injury shouldn’t stand in the way of getting the financial recovery that you are entitled to under the law.
Can you negotiate a car accident injury claim without a lawyer? Sure. But here’s the bottom line: in most cases, without an attorney:
- You’re in for a lot of stress,
- You’re likely to make avoidable errors (simply because you haven’t spent your life handling complex insurance claims)
- The insurance company is likely to see you as vulnerable and unserious (and then exploit that), and
- You’re more likely to end up with less money than you deserve.
That’s what it comes down to.
Hiring the right auto accident attorney in Columbus, Ohio can make all the difference. Colombo Law is here to help.
Schedule a Cost-Free, No-Obligation Legal Consultation Today
Colombo Law is proud to serve auto accident victims all across the state of Ohio. Contact Colombo Law and schedule a free case review today.
To get started, call 888-860-1414 (614-362-7000 in Columbus) or simply contact us online.