How Serious is Your Injury?
Not all injuries will require the use of a lawyer. If your injury is minor and you have the time to work on the legal and insurance claims on your own, it is possible for you to settle your own claim. It is important, however, that you consider seeking help from an attorney for any injury that has pain that lasts for longer than a few days and that requires medical care. If your injury necessitated hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, chiropractic work, cosmetic surgery or orthopedics, you likely need to have your case evaluated by an injury lawyer. When claims involve substantial past and future medical expenses, their value can be significantly increased when you have good legal representation.
California law provides that a person is not only entitled to the cost of their present medical treatment in a personal injury claim. They are also entitled to the cost of any future medical care, compensation for current and future lost income that results from not being able to work and "general damages." What are "general damages"? This is additional compensation for both the physical pain (present and future) and emotional distress caused by the injury. This includes compensation for "physical impairment, disfigurement (e.g. permanent scars or limps), inconvenience, grief, anxiety, and the loss of enjoyment of life." There is no fixed standard or formula for calculating these losses. Experienced injury lawyers who deal with insurance companies all the time, have experience presenting these claims to juries and know what jury verdicts are, and have experience presenting all the evidence are in the best position to make sure that the value placed on your "general damages" is as high as it can possibly be!
In addition, insurance companies tend to want to obtain extensive information before they agree to pay out on a claim with a serious injury like a fracture, torn tendon or ligament, herniated discs causing nerve impingement or similar type bodily injuries. They often want the claimant to provide extensive medical records, be subjected to a "deposition" (a formal statement made to a court reporter under oath), or a physical examination by one of their doctors. This process will most likely not take place unless and until a lawsuit is filed and the parties are engaging in so-called "discovery". Going it on your own through such formal proceedings is never advisable. Having an attorney to guide you through this process can mean all the difference when it comes to getting full compensation for any type of significant personal injury.