One of the most common questions clients have is “Why should a hire a lawyer?”. Sometimes they’ve been told by family or friends that they can handle the case on their own and save money. Sometimes they went on line and read an article that supposedly gave them the “secrets” to negotiating an auto accident settlement.
Can you do it on your own? Sure. Is it a good idea? Rarely.
We recently settled a client’s case where he and his wife had negotiated a possible settlement. The offer was $30,000.00 (thirty thousand dollars) total. A (smart) relative recommended they come speak with us before committing to the deal. We were shocked that they were even considering such a small settlement and (as their statute of limitations was about to expire) recommended they hire us to file suit immediately. They did, and we immediately started a lawsuit.
The result? After a year of litigation, we settled their claim for $500,000.00 (five hundred thousand dollars).
Why the big difference?
First, your lawyer knows how the law in Wisconsin addresses damages and liability – what does the law actually say? How much money are you actually entitled to? What will a local jury think about your case? What are the applicable laws for your case? Second, a lawyer who will file suit and actually try cases can credibly make the argument to a negligent defendant’s insurance company that a judge or jury will ultimately hold them responsible for their damages, thus encouraging them to settle. Insurance adjusters are well aware that lay-persons are not going to file a lawsuit – what do they have to lose by low-balling you an offer?
Hiring a lawyer also has the advantage of allowing you respite from the incessant demands that managing your own insurance case requires. You are able to focus on getting well – on your care and treatment. Your lawyer takes over the aggravation of dealing with your insurance company and their multiple calls and requirements.
So don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. The money you think you could save is likely far less than a skilled personal injury attorney with a reputation for trying cases can achieve for you with proper preparation and (if necessary) litigation.