If you have been injured in an accident and are looking for assistance from an attorney, feel free to contact our Durham Injury Attorneys and Greensboro Injury Attorneys (we serve clients throughout the State of North Carolina) by any of the following methods: (1) filling out the Free Consultation form to the right, (2) emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (3) calling us at (888) 820-5885. If you are here looking for information on how to handle your own personal injury claim, we have written a few tips below on how to handle your own North Carolina Personal Injury Claim and also have a bunch of information throughout our blog for your review. If you do not find an answer to your question, contact us and we will be happy to answer your question (for free, and even if you choose not to hire an attorney).
Should you always hire a personal injury attorney to help you with your personal injury claim?
We do typically recommend that you hire a Durham Personal Injury Attorney or Greensboro Personal Injury Attorney to help you with your personal injury case; however, there are some types of cases that you can handle just fine on your own. Most personal injury attorneys charge 33% of your settlement, so if you are able to handle your case on your own you may save a little money (though we think it is extremely difficult for a non-attorney to get the same result as an attorney (despite what an insurance adjuster will tell you)).
What types of personal injury cases can I handle without a personal injury lawyer?
If you have very minor injuries, little to no medical bills/visits, and no long-term injuries or medical treatment, then you can probably handle your case on your own. These types of injuries are typically worth $1,000 to $5,000, and the value of these types of injuries do not go up a great deal with the assistance of an attorney (if you were not seriously injured, and didn’t have to do a lot of rehab, then generally your pain and suffering and inconvenience are not going to be valued at a real high number).
How do I handle my own personal injury claim?
I’ll just give you a summary of the steps. If you have any questions or are not comfortable with handling your claim, contact one of our Durham Personal Injury Lawyers or Greensboro Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss your claim.
- First, you need to gather information at the accident scene (everyone’s name, contact information, insurance information, etc.).
- Second, be sure to get a police report (call the police at the accident scene).
- Third, call the insurance company of the at fault driver (call your own insurance company too) to file a claim (this typically takes 15-30 minutes; be careful what you say when filing the claim as your conversation is typically recorded and forwarded to the insurance adjuster for review).
- Fourth, collect documentation of all of your damages (repair estimate for any property damage, medical bills and records, any out-of-pocket expenses, wage loss verification, etc.
- Fifth, complete all of your medical treatment and avoid settling your claim until you are fully recovered (but don’t wait too long, as the Statute of Limitations may expire (which is generally 3 years for negligence claims, and if you fail to bring your lawsuit within 3 years of the date of your injury then your claim will be barred)).
- Sixth, write the insurance company a demand letter asking for a sum of money to settle your claim (include copies of your medical records, medical bills, wage loss information, out-of-pocket expenses, repairs estimates, photos of your injuries and damages, etc.).
- Seventh, negotiate with the insurance company on a settlement amount (note: your initial demand should be significantly higher than the lowest amount you would accept to settle, as you will need a little room to negotiate (adjuster’s negotiate everything…if they accept your first demand then you asked for too little)). Engage the adjuster in negotiating as long as the adjuster continues to modify his or her offer, and continues to answer and return your phone calls, letters and emails.
Well, you can generally be compensated for (1) your medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses, (2) your lost wages, (3) your pain, suffering, inconvenience, etc., and (4) your property damage. The difficult part is coming up with a value for your pain, suffering and inconvenience. Your medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages and property damage should not be the subject of too much dispute. However, the value of your pain, suffering and inconvenience can be the source of great dispute. The value of pain, suffering and inconvenience is relative to the person going through the experience. For some people, they would give anything to have avoided the experience, and they may place an extremely high value on the pain, suffering and inconvenience. For others, they may be less sensitive to the experience. There is no formula for deciding how much your pain, suffering and inconvenience is worth, so just take your best guess and if you have any questions or want our opinion, give our Durham Injury Attorneys or Greensboro Injury Attorneys a call or email.
Additional considerations in how much money to accept in exchange for settling your cases include: (1) do you feel like the insurance company is willing to negotiate any more (are they serious when they tell you that you are receiving their final offer?), (2) do you place any value on having the case closed (some people just want to put the whole experience behind them – so settling has inherent value), (3) if you can not agree on a settlement amount, what will you do (hire an attorney? Avoid threatening action that you will not be willing to take), etc.
What should you avoid doing?
There is a long list of things to avoid, but some of the most common are (1) do not give any recorded or written statements to the other insurance company, (2) do not make the mistake of thinking that the insurance company is on your side (the insurance company is trying to protect the person who caused your injury and to make a profit for the shareholders of the insurance company and (3) be sure to keep the Statute of Limitations in mind so that you do not lose your case because you failed to act timely.
What if you don’t want to handle your personal injury case on your own?
You may have success handling your personal injury case on your own if you have a very basic case with very minimal injuries and medical treatment. However, even in those circumstances you may want to hire an attorney because (a) you want to ensure you get a fair settlement or (b) you do not have the time, energy or interest in dealing with the aspects of your personal injury case (speaking with adjusters, writing demand letters, etc.). In that case, feel free to contact our Durham Accident Attorneys or Greensboro Accident Attorneys for a free consultation to discuss our services and how we can assist you with your personal injury case.