I Got Injured and I Want to Go it Alone
As personal injury attorneys, we see it all. At this point in my career, I am not surprised any longer by the manner in which people get injured as there are only so many ways to get injured in a motor vehicle collision, slip and fall, attacked by an animal, or assaulted. However, I am always surprised by the phone calls we receive from clients who advise that they tried to resolve their case on their own and it didn’t work! As they say, “you think it’s expensive hiring a professional? Wait until you hire an amateur.”
I don’t mean this in a derogatory manner at all. There are a ton of folks who are smarter than I am, can do things I can’t, and offer value in situations where I have no experience and would have no clue where to begin. We live in a society that believes in the division of labor where individuals focus and specialize in the labor they love and outsource the duties they don’t enjoy. This is a good thing. However, this comes at a cost. I have to pay someone to come to my home to fix my garage, the veterinarian to help my pups, and healthcare professionals to keep me happy and healthy. Without these people, I wouldn’t be able to help others when and where they need me most. My division of labor keeps me active, engaged, and loving what I do.
This discussion is a very interesting perspective into how people think, feel, and behave based on their collective experience. Once injured, people naturally perceive the need for help as they don’t know what to do. From a medical perspective, they may have no idea what is wrong with them, how to fix it, or how their injury will impact their ability to live their best life. From a legal perspective, perhaps they recall the sleazy and off-putting T.V. advertising attorneys that often over promise and under deliver their “services” in order to pay to be on television during every Broncos, Rockies, and Avalanche game. Perhaps they feel that they will not be able to afford an attorney as there is a perception that attorneys bill by the hour at insanely high rates. Perhaps they feel that they simply can achieve the desired result on their own.
Regardless of how you feel, you have a simple decision to make when you have been injured. Do I reach out for help? Do I go it alone? Do I let it go and do nothing? I could write voluminous blogs on each option, but that is not the intent of this article. The intent of this article is addressing the thought process through which you should analyze this decision for yourself. As you may know from reading our other blogs, we don’t tell our clients what to do as that is not why they hire us. They hire us to give them honest information, legal advice, and the tools necessary for them to make an educated decision that works for them.
I personally wouldn’t attempt to resolve a legal claim if I didn’t have legal experience; just like I wouldn’t try to clean my dogs’ teeth under anesthesia as I may cause more harm than good in that situation. At the end of a personal injury case, you sign a piece of paper (a legally enforceable contract) called a release of liability and you get money in return. There is no going back and asking for additional funds because you made a mistake, didn’t have all the information you needed, or the insurance carrier low balled you and didn’t advise you (as they have no obligation to do so) of the ramifications of the settlement agreement. It is important to note that insurance carriers want injured people to settle without attorneys as they feel they can get away with nominal settlements very quickly when attorneys are not involved.
Unfortunately, we regularly receive calls from injured people who tried to solve their problem on their own as they didn’t want to hire an attorney and now believe they need one because their experience was not positive. I am not saying that some people can’t obtain successful results on their own. It happens. However, it probably happens in the cases where you may not need an attorney in the first place (we will of course give you our thoughts on whether you need one during our first call). The problem with this approach is that there are legal rules, statutes, and procedures that govern your claim that you may not be aware of. The potential consequence is that you miss a legal issue that costs you significant amounts of money, you provide an insurance carrier with evidence they are not entitled to, or, and more importantly, you fail to bring a legal claim you are entitled to bring against the right individuals that entitles you to additional funds so you can pay for your medical bills etc.
An important thing to consider when deciding whether you want to hire an attorney is this: our attorney fees must be reasonable and we must bring value to your case. If you can do it on your own without the assistance of an attorney and not suffer any of the negative consequences discussed above, then logically the attorney is not bringing anything of value to you as a client and should not be involved or earning a fee from your settlement. However, that perspective is with the benefit of hindsight and the decision to hire and attorney should be done very shortly after your injury. Often times, we are unable to get involved late in the game after an injured person tried to resolve it on their own as irreparable harm has been done to their claims.
As they say, “you can’t take the cream out of the coffee” and “you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.” We advise you to make the right decision for yourself at the outset of your case but you need information and our thoughts in order to make an educated decision. It is simple to pick up the phone and call us to determine whether you need an attorney and to discuss the options that are best for you. We do not charge anything to evaluate your claim and determine whether we can represent you in your legal matter. We are always happy to help in any way we can.
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