You are in a minor impact accident. Your neck hurts. You’ve been to the emergency room, and you are following up with a chiropractor. Do you have a case? Is it worth pursuing? Should you hire a lawyer? Maybe. Maybe not.
A lawyer cannot answer these questions if you are still treating with a physician. If you had one emergency room visit and you are doing better, you probably don’t need a lawyer. However, if you have continued to have pain, the case needs to be investigated. You must weigh the cost/benefit analysis of whether or not employing an attorney is appropriate.
There are many occasions which have arisen where we have advised the potential client that she would be better off without an attorney. If the potential client is doing better physically and has been offered a settlement of $4,000.00 by the insurance company, the attorney with a one-third (1/3) contract will have to get a settlement of $6,000.00 just so the potential client would be where she was before she hired the lawyer, and that’s before the lawyer’s expenses. In such a situation, it would be ridiculous to hire a lawyer. However, if the attorney reviews the case and thinks he can obtain a much better result (say $25,000.00), you would be foolish not to employ the attorney.
Sometimes these cases are very difficult to evaluate until the medical treatment has been concluded. For example, we received an inquiry from a potential client who had a history of fibromyalgia. It had taken several years, but at the time of the accident, the client’s pain was under control, and he was feeling better than ever.The client was involved in an accident with a truck, and all of a sudden, the hard work he had spent getting to feeling better was down the drain. Is that a case where the client should hire an attorney? We would say yes. Why? Well, it is going to be difficult for the client to get an insurance company to see things his way without an attorney.
There are many issues to consider when evaluating such a case. Can the witnesses be gathered and statements taken which show the pain was gone and has only returned because of this new accident? Will the doctor back up the client? Has the client kept a pain log to show when he was having pain and what medications he took? Was the driver of the truck a competent driver? Are there some facts which would show that not only should the insurance company for the truck compensate the client but that the driver should be punished, i.e.: he was on the cell phone, he was drunk, he had had numerous accidents before, etc. These are issues which take investigation and skill in putting the facts together for an insurance adjuster. It’s not rocket science, but when you are injured and not feeling well, it is sometimes best for an independent, third party attorney to do the work for you.