It is a well-known fact that only approximately four percent of personal injury cases get to trial. Based on estimations provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, there were some 16 397 tort cases in the space of a year.
If one extrapolates the actual number of personal injury claims in a year, a staggering amount of 409 925 tort cases were pending in the same year.
Everyone knows that legal representation costs a lot of money. However, even in cases where attorneys are retained on a contingency basis, they typically walk away with approximately 33% of the award made, which can be substantial.
Fun fact – in 2020, the top 50 awards in California alone ranged from $890 000 up to $2 750 000.
The highest award for a personal injury claim for a severe spinal injury from a car accident was $12.5 million. In this case, if the contingency fee were 33 percent, the lawyer’s fees would amount to $4.125 million. That is a tidy fee for sure. But it is also a tidy award!
Yes, it is possible to proceed on your own without the assistance and expertise of a professional attorney at your side, leading the way and ensuring that you avoid the pitfalls to secure the total amount of compensation due to you. And that may be fine in a relatively minor matter for a small sum.
However, if you face a large claim, it will become complicated with the expertise required to do well. In such a case, do yourself a favor and appoint a highly specialized, knowledgeable, and experienced personal injury lawyer with an excellent track record in the specific area of the law.
When a lawyer is not required
Suppose you are involved in a minor motor vehicle accident with minimal damage to your vehicle and no or only very slight injuries that are easily overcome and happy with the settlement offer proposed by the insurance company. In that case, you probably do not need to get a lawyer.
If you have been offered a settlement which is the maximum amount payable under that policy, it is probably best to simply accept the offer, and there is no need to lawyer up. However, it may still be worthwhile considering appointing a lawyer for two main reasons. Firstly, a lawyer can ensure that the settlement offered is tax beneficial to you and covers all areas. Secondly, if the insured is a wealthy individual with many assets and your losses are significantly more than those covered by the maximum under the insurance, you would still do well to lawyer up and sue the individual.
If you are confident in your ability to negotiate with an adjuster who does this for a living, you may consider doing this yourself. However, it is my experience that such confidence is sometimes out of place, leading to your detriment. Remember that this is a specialty area, and you are not a specialist. There are some notable exceptions, but a professional adjuster will out-negotiate most people.
In the same vein, if you are confident that you can research the law and understand and apply the settlement process, you might consider taking on the project. Remember that the time and energy it will take you to become familiar with the intricacies will be significant and may be time better spent earning money and paying someone else to represent you. Someone who has already studied the intricacies is qualified and experienced and knows the ropes.
To sum up, law and law practice are complicated, full of nuances, exceptions, and procedures. If you have a meaty claim, use a lawyer. The compensation award will more than justify the lawyer’s fee,