Can I file an injury lawsuit myself?
If you have been injured by the negligence of another person you have the legal right to file an injury claim on your own without a personal injury lawyer.
In most injury cases, such as premise liability cases, car accidents, and motorcycle accidents you will be negotiating with an insurance company. In fact, in some states you will not be able to file a car accident lawsuit if your injuries are not severe enough or the cost of your injuries does not reach a specific threshold.
So whether you are negotiating a settlement with an insurance company or preparing a case in court, there are several steps you will have to take.
First, it’s important to understand the value of your injuries. If you decide not to hire a lawyer and negotiate your own settlement it’s likely the insurance company will conclude you are trying to save money. They will also assume you do not have the same
knowledge and skill a lawyer has and will try to get you to accept a low offer.
So the real question you need to ask yourself before you make the decision to represent yourself is whether you have the right skill and experience, how prepared you will be if the case is not settled and you must present your case in court, and the actual cost of your injuries.
What steps should you take to settle your own case?
- Analyze the full costs of your injuries - So how do you know how much your injuries will cost? First, you must gather your own medical records and medical bills. Do not rely on the insurance company to provide this information to you. The medical providers are likely to charge you for this information, and sometimes it can be quite costly. You will also need to authorize the release of the information. If treatment is ongoing there may be additional information which must be gathered about ongoing costs estimates.
- Gather information about the accident - If you have been injured in a car accident or any type of action where the police were involved you will need to contact the police department and get a copy of the police report.
- Calculate your lost wages - If your injuries are severe and you have missed work or you have been temporarily or permanently disabled you will need information from your employer about your lost wages.
- Finally, you will also need to gather information from witnesses who witnessed the accident and who are willing to provide information about the fault of the defendant. You should also document any damage to your car or person. For instance, if you were in a car accident you can take photographs of your car. You will also need information about the costs to repair your vehicle.
All of the information mentioned above can be consolidated and put into a demand package which you can send to the insurance company. The demand package will include information about the accident, the driver’s negligence, a summary of your injuries with corresponding evidence such as your medical bills, information about your lost wages, and
the amount you believe you are owed. You should also give the insurance company a deadline for responding to your demands.
If you do not want to settle and you decide to file a lawsuit, you may want to reconsider whether or not you want a lawyer to help you in court.
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