Still Thinking About Handling Your Own Injury Claim?

I’ve been at this job for over two decades now and I’m still amazed when I hear of people wanting to handle their own personal injury claim.

Is there a time when this makes sense? For sure! Sometimes there are just really straight-forward claims where your chances of recovery are high enough relative to your chances of screwing things up. But that is NOT always the case. Here’s the best metaphor I’ve been able to think of on this subject:

Let’s say you’re interested in building a home. They way you go about it is you get an architect to draw up the plans and a contractor to arrange and supervise the build-out. Right? You get professionals to do their work so the thing doesn’t come crashing down on your head when you walk into it. The way you DON’T go about it is plan it on your Etch-a-Sketch, go to Lowes and get some 2x4s and some quickcrete and then have at it. You DON’T approach it with the idea of, “I’ll just hobble along and do what I can and if it gets really messy THEN I’ll get a contractor.” No way! At that point it’s too late. The contractor will have to knock down everything you’ve done and then start from scratch.

This is a great metaphor, and it only fails at the end when you’re talking about a contractor fixing the mess you’ve made. If we bring this back to personal injury claims, there often is no way to fix the mess you’ve made. Once you’ve made certain critical errors, they are made and there’s no going back. There is no “raze the whole thing and start over” option. Once the damage is done, it’s done.

I think that people still think of this as an option mostly because they misunderstand what attorneys do in these claims. Everyone has seen the lawyer shows and the court room drama and all that. That’s the more visible and memorable work that attorneys do, for sure. But arguably the more important, though less visible, work that they so is immediately after they sign up your claim. Our presence keeps the insurance companies from interrogating you and tricking you into torpedoing your own claim. Our investigations help to shore up your liability argument as well as to make sure we’re exhausting all potential coverages out there. Our analysis of your particular facts helps you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your claim so you know where to concentrate your energy and what might trip you up later. If you don’t let us do that at the beginning, then it may be too late to get it done at all. And I’ll tell you this for nothing: It’s one thing to take on a case that needs a trial because it needs a trial, but it’s a totally different and way less attractive proposition to take on a case that needs a trial because of all the screw ups that were allowed along the way.

Don’t fall into this trap! If you have an injury claim, call a lawyer! Call several. I’ve told countless people that they didn’t need me and they could and should handle their own claim. I may not speak for all of us, but I’m not going to sign up your case unless I think I can do a better job on it than you can! None of us can make guarantees, but I think you’ll feel better about whatever decision you make after you talk to some professionals in this business. So if you have an injury claim, call an attorney. Call me. 919-929-2992.

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Jeffrey Allen Howard, Attorney at Law, PLLC
1829 E. Franklin St. - Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

(P) 919-929-2992
(F) 919-636-4779

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