Posted in Law, Medical Malpractice, Motor Vehicle Incidents, Personal Injury, Products Liability, Workers' Comp, Wrongful Death

Seek Counsel or Wing It? When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

When a person becomes hurt or injured, whether by a defective product, a motor vehicle crash, etcetera, the decision to seek qualified counsel is rarely a simple one to make. Despite the negative perspective commonly shared between defense attorneys, insurance companies and legal system spectators; oftentimes, most people have no interest in becoming a party to a potential lawsuit. Some injured plaintiffs suffer from guilt and uncertainty which can create potentially damaging time delays relative to their claim. 

As creatures of habit, it is human nature for us to grimace at anything that could potentially inconvenience or inhibit our life routines in anyway. The mere thought of continuous medical appointments, insurance company negotiations, recorded statements and legal proceedings is enough to persuade most potential plaintiffs that their injury “isn’t serious enough” to substantiate the necessity of seeking qualified counsel. These types of thoughts have and continue to promote an unfair advantage that benefits guilty parties and insurers nationwide. 

Guilt, Uncertainty and Negative Stigma 

Feelings of guilt and uncertainty are common obstacles faced by the injured and non-represented. Questions and statements such as, “do I even have a case?”; “did I somehow contribute to my injury?” or “I wasn’t injured that bad… it will get better” are examples of plaintiff’s guilt. The injured individual may shame themselves into thinking the injury was in some way or entirely their own fault. Even if that was not the case. 

On the contrary, the negative stigma surrounding plaintiff personal injury attorneys has created a clear contradiction as to the importance of professional specialization. Questions and statements such as, “Is hiring an attorney even worth the time and money?”; or, “I can resolve this claim on my own for free” are examples of a common uncertainty/skepticism relative to the necessity of hiring representation. Attorneys are hired because they possess a thorough understanding of the laws, rules and elements associated with an injured person’s claim. 

Say for example, a child contracts a mysterious illness overnight. Would it be wise for a parent to spend time educating themselves on the illness for free? Or would it be wiser to save time by taking the child to a medical professional who specializes in pediatric infectious disease?  

In the Legal World, Time Truly Waits for No One 

The bottom line is that you simply may not have the time to answer those questions on your own. Dependent upon the type of injury/claim, each state has a statute of limitations which sets maximum limits on the amount of time following an event within which legal proceedings may be pursued. A prime example would be Texas medical malpractice claims which are governed by strict noticing requirements and deadlines. 

Though most of us over-achieving common folk typically consider ourselves skilled at any and all things – including legal procedure and statutes of limitations – it may be best that we trust an attorney who already specializes in personal injury law. 

What Do You Have to Lose?  

Most attorneys provide free consultations and will often work on a contingency fee basis. These attorneys will investigate your claim at no upfront cost to you. The risk factor for the plaintiff is very minimal considering there is no charge if the attorney doesn’t make any money.  

Personal Injury Attorneys and Motor Vehicle Crashes 

Take motor vehicle crashes for example. Though not mandatory, it is critical that the injured party hire an attorney who specializes in personal injury/motor vehicle crashes immediately following the incident. You simply cannot afford to be without counsel at any stage of the claim process.  

Personal injury attorneys who specialize in motor vehicle incidents specialize in handling all (but not limited to) the following: 

  1. Insurance company communications; 
  1. Medical treatment and future medical needs; and 
  1. Record retention and review. 

Insurance Company Communications 

The U.S. insurance industry is worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually as per the S&P Global Market Intelligence, Insurance Information Institute. The primary business model shared across this industry revolves around minimal pay-outs to their policy holders to boost company profitability.  

These companies have entire legal departments staffed with slippery defense attorneys who have far more experience handling insurance claim cases than the average consumer. This makes the retention of specialized counsel even more imperative to obtaining fair resolution on behalf of the injured. There is a reason that both yours and the tortfeasor’s insurers have specialized attorneys in their corners, and you can bet that reason is not benefiting you.  

Medical Treatment 

Depending on the type of injury suffered, continued medical treatment is critical in order to detail, address and hopefully correct the injury sustained during the subject incident. Your attorney’s support staff can assist you with determining which providers to see for immediate treatment and for the evaluation of any and all future medical needs and expected costs. 

Records Retention and Review 

Medical records are the primary source of evidence in a personal injury claim. Your attorney’s support staff will request and review your medical records in order to summarize your injuries as they relate to the subject incident. 

There are many other tasks involved in resolving personal injury cases. The medical treatment and records are used to build strong demand letters that will lead to settled claims pre-trial. The strategies used to execute these tasks will vary greatly depending on the attorney and their specialized area of practice.  

Conclusion 

The decision to hire a personal injury attorney is difficult due to obstacles such as plaintiff guilt, uncertainty and negative stigmas surrounding the legal profession. Plaintiffs receive many helpful benefits upon retaining qualified counsel. With free consultations and a low up-front risk factor, injured plaintiffs have nothing to lose! 

So, seek counsel or wing it? When should a potential plaintiff hire a personal injury attorney? Seek qualified counsel as soon as possible! There is no specific timeframe for hiring an attorney. However, it is imperative you understand that in the legal world, time is literally of the essence!  

If you or your loved one have been injured, do not attempt to determine whether you have a compensable case.  Contact Patrick Daniel Law for a free case evaluation and let us help you! Schedule a consultation in person, over the phone or online immediately. 

Posted in CLE, Ethics, Houston Events, Networking, Paralegal, Paralegal Zone

Paralegal Zone Event Review: HMPA’s November CLE Luncheon

The Houston Metropolitan Paralegal Association (HMPA) is one of the largest paralegal associations in the United States. It is no wonder they are well known for frequently hosting successful networking and CLE events for professional Houston area paralegals.

The HMPA November 2019 CLE Luncheon took place at The Houston Center Club. The food was excellent and the room was full! Just the sort of environment to which inquisitive and social paralegals are attracted. The speaker was Michael “Tate” Barkley of Bain & Barkley. Let me tell you, this man was extremely entertaining, intelligent and knew exactly how to keep the crowd engaged in his discussion about ethical decision making.

I attend these events to remain sharp within the legal field while connecting with similar professionals in pursuit of that same mastery. For the paralegals of Patrick Daniel Law, these events have become a part of our team routine. Whether you attend as a member or as a guest of a member, HMPA Luncheons have proven to be fun, social, entertaining and extremely informative.

For information about the next event, visit houstonparalegals.org.

Contact:
Your Fellow Professionals at HMPA
Houston Metropolitan Paralegal Association
855-614-HMPA
hmpa-aa@houstonparalegals.org