If you have suffered a personal injury due to the fault of another, you may be eligible to make a compensation claim against them and their insurance company. However, an making insurance claim can be long and tedious, and it is often a difficult process to navigate through on your own.
If you are about to make an insurance claim, read on to find out more about whether you should deal with an insurance company by yourself or consult a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim.
Were you at fault?
If you were partly at fault for your own personal injury, it is advisable that you seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer about how this affects your eligibility to make a compensation claim and to handle any claims of contributory negligence against you. Contributory negligence occurs when one’s own negligence has contributed to the causation of their injury, due to a failure to take reasonable care.
For example, contributory negligence will have occurred if you were illegally crossing the road and you were hit by a motor vehicle. While the driver is usually at fault for failing to take evasive action to prevent the accident, you as the pedestrian who jaywalked are also at fault for not crossing at a designated crossing. The responsibility for the injury will be apportioned as a percentage between the parties at fault and the compensation you can receive or will pay will reflect this apportionment. Contributory negligence, if any, is determined on a case by case basis.
Is your claim simple or complex?
The insurance claims process can be simple or complex depending on the type of injury you have suffered and the type of claim you are making. Common claims can include motor vehicle accident claims, workers compensation claims, financial planning negligence claims, medical negligence claims or slips and fall claims.
Many claims require specialised knowledge, as there are ever-changing laws and requirements of the compensation claims process. Some examples of the fluctuating nature of the insurance system include the recent changes to the Compulsory Third Party insurance scheme and the Workers Compensation scheme. It is also important to note that there are strict time limits which must be adhered to for all types of insurance claims. If you are unsure of the latest requirements, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer who specialises in the type of claim you are making.
Do you have negotiation skills?
The majority of insurance claims are settled before going to court, and it is not uncommon for insurance companies to offer you a quick settlement in the hopes that you will not realise the full extent of your possible damages. Therefore, you should not feel pressured to take the first settlement offer the insurance company gives you. If you are feeling pressured, you should ask the insurance company to send you a settlement offer in writing so that you can consult a personal injury lawyer on whether the offer is fair or whether you should be receiving a greater amount. If you are not confident with negotiating on your own, it may be worthwhile to engage a personal injury lawyer to negotiate a settlement amount on your behalf.
Can you afford a lawyer’s fees?
Many personal injury lawyers offer a ‘no win no fee’ guarantee, which means that you can have access to legal representation for your personal injury claim without having to pay for the legal costs up front. Any fees that you are later required to pay are contingent-costs, meaning that the costs will differ based on whether your case has a successful or unsuccessful outcome.
Your personal injury lawyer should discuss with you the estimated fees you will pay in the event of a ‘win’ or ‘lose’, so that you are not caught off-guard with legal fees after the compensation claims process has finished.
For more information about making a personal injury claim, contact Schreuders today.