Injured In An Accident – A Fool For An Attorney

by William Jorden on May 31, 2011

by William T. Jorden, Esquire

For some time now, my wife Jill and I have been working on drawings for necessary remodeling of our house. I thought I could do this myself until a friend, in passing, asked me if I had an architect. When I replied that I was designing the changes myself, my friend asked me what I thought of someone who tries to represent themselves in an important legal matter.

I was immediately reminded of the saying, “The person who represents himself, has a fool for an attorney”.

The very next day I was on the phone to engage an architect.

If you have been injured in an accident and think you do not need or cannot afford an attorney, you may want to think twice. This is why.

Most accidents, especially automobile accidents, involve insurance companies. An insurance adjuster receives his or her paychecks from the insurance company. Insurance companies operate to make a profit. The less insurance companies pay out in claims, the greater is the profit to the company and the greater are the dividends to its shareholders. The adjuster is, therefore, not on your side.

Your own attorney brings to the table, education, training and experience that levels the playing field between you and the insurance company. Compensation for damages suffered in an accident is often times dependent upon a determination of fault. An experienced trial lawyer has the know-how to develop and document a liability analysis that will impress the insurance company and stand up in Court.

Besides liability, every personal injury case involves a determination of the seriousness of the injuries and a calculation of damages. An attorney has the experience and tools that make a proper estimation of damages possible. A good attorney will spend the time with you to help you get the medical care and attention that you need. Ultimately, the attorney will obtain a medical diagnosis and prognosis for you.

Often times working with vocational, rehabilitation and economic experts, the attorney can determine with a fair degree of accuracy, the economic losses and other damages that the accident has caused and will cause you to suffer.

Sometimes, victims of accidents are reluctant to talk to an attorney because of the cost. Some attorneys and certainly my partner, Harry White and I, offer an initial free consultation to anyone injured in an accident.

It is smart to talk to an attorney who offers you a free consultation before you decide to represent yourself. At this initial consultation, we evaluate and review your insurance policies. We assist you in completing necessary insurance claim forms. We evaluate your claim. We give you important information about the claims process and what you need to do. More than one individual or entity may be liable for your injuries. If that is the case, we can help you identify other sources of liability and coverage.

At an initial consultation, we also will discuss social security, workers compensation or other disability benefits that you may be entitled to receive in addition to automobile or accident insurance. Unless you do talk to an attorney, you may never be able to fully appreciate what you are up against or what your case is really worth.

Remember, you are never obligated to hire an attorney after you have talked to him or her. If you do decide you need an attorney, contingent fee contracts enable you to do so, with no obligations to pay attorney fees until and unless you obtain a payment for your damages. While the contingent fee contract can be the key to the courthouse for many injured victims, not all fee contracts are the same.

At Jorden and White, we will explain the process of hiring an attorney and what to look for in a contingent fee agreement.

Finally, after talking to an attorney, you may still decide to act as your own attorney in negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. Just remember, if you do, you may have a fool for an attorney. Certainly, in affairs of significant personal and economic importance, no one wants to be represented by a fool.

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