When you or someone close to you is injured, one of the first discussions in the aftermath is whether to involve a personal injury attorney. This decision can be difficult, as introducing an attorney means there will be conflict – if there were no conflicts in the world, there would be no attorneys. While considering whether to hire an attorney, some may be fearful of involving someone whose entire job revolves around disagreement between parties, while others may think they can handle a case themselves because of false knowledge from television or stories from peers. In civil litigation matters, however, it takes trained experts to effectively resolve these conflicts and, without the proper education and experience, a layperson attempting to litigate these cases can result in lost time and money.
Personal Injury Claims Can Get Complicated
Aside from the legal education necessary to prepare properly formatted pleadings, file a case, respond to motions, and understand terms of art, a vast number of resources are required. These resources can be boiled down to three things: money, time, and staff. First, money is crucial in our day-to-day lives and while litigating a personal injury case, it is even more important. Payments for mail, medical records, depositions, and technology must be made immediately and failure to do so can jeopardize a case. For example, in medical malpractice cases in Missouri, attorneys must submit an affidavit from an expert in a field related to the incident stating that in their opinion, held to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the physician, provider, or practice fell below the standard of care in providing care to the plaintiff. Not only must you be aware of this statutory requirement, but you must also have the funds necessary to pay the expert for their review of the file. Second, having enough time to work on a case is necessary. Even with decades of experience, attorneys may spend 12 or more hours researching and writing a response to one motion. This is our full-time job, and we do what we need to in order to effectively resolve a case. Last, having the appropriate number of experienced staff is essential to success. For one case, there may be a team of two lawyers, a paralegal, a legal assistant, and two law clerks devoted to research, writing, review, oral argument on motions, and preparation for depositions. The truly complex work plaintiff’s attorneys do is not for those who lack resources, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis – never charging for anything out of pocket and only getting paid if our client gets paid.
How Are Personal Injury Claims Settled?
Personal injury claims can be settled in many ways – demand letters, mediation, arbitration, or pre-trial settlement. During discovery, which is the information and document sharing process early-on in litigation, plaintiff’s attorneys will request that the defendant send them their insurance policy. Medical providers and product manufacturers almost always have insurance coverage for situations that fit an injured plaintiff, but it is with a keen eye that attorneys use to determine their full coverage. Demand letters will be sent once the full amount of coverage has been known and in Missouri can be sent with a time-limit by statute. In these instances, attorneys will write a full letter and include the liability theory, causation theory, and a damages summary wherein they demand an amount to settle the case. In mediations, a neutral party will receive briefs written by both sides in support of their demands and work to find a middle ground. In some cases, mediation or arbitration are court-ordered, so participation is required. Settlements can even come right before or during trial – some cases settle the night before jury selection, some settle during jury selection, and some will settle while the jury is deliberating. Good relationships with defense attorneys and confidence in your trial skills and case strength are key to settling cases.
Representation vs. DIY: Which is More Successful?
Having representation in your civil litigation matters is nearly essential no matter the circumstances. Taking a DIY approach will no doubt leave a plaintiff with less money, wasted time, and the inability to retain an attorney if the case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning there is no merit, and the Court permanently dismissed the case. In a study conducted by the All-Industry Research Advisory Council, it was found that when compared to litigants who represented themselves, litigants represented by attorneys received 40% higher settlements. The Insurance Research Council, in their own study, found that 85% of all settlements paid by insurance companies were paid to litigants who were represented, and their settlements were three times higher than litigants who represented themselves. In making the decision of whether to hire an attorney to handle a personal injury claim, the numbers quite literally speak for themselves.
Don’t Go It Alone: Consult with an Expert in Personal Injury Law
The experienced personal injury attorneys in St. Louis at The Simon Law Firm, P.C. have over 175 years combined experience and are ready to fight on your behalf. It is hard to navigate conflict alone, but with a strong firm who leads in the field of personal injury law on your side, your fear will be eased, and your questions will be answered. If you or a loved one has been injured due to another’s negligence or a defective product, contact The Simon Law Firm today for a free, confidential consultation.