If you were injured because of another individual’s negligence, you are well within your rights to file a claim to collect compensation. You may wonder if you are able to sue for a personal injury without a lawyer? Legally, yes. You can represent yourself, but that comes with a lot of work that could be lifted off your shoulders if you were to hire a lawyer.
To get a better understanding of how personal injury lawsuits work, this article will explain what you should know if you decide to be your own representation compared to what a lawyer can do to secure compensation.
Serious Injuries That Qualify for a Personal Injury Claim
Sustaining an injury in an accident is not enough to entitle you to compensation in New York. You may only sue for compensation if you meet the threshold of a “serious injury,” as defined by the New York Consolidated Laws: Insurance (ISL) §5102(d). Examples of a serious injury include:
- Severe scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of a limb, organ, or other important bodily function
- Loss of use of a limb, organ, or other important bodily function
You may still qualify for compensation if you have not sustained any of these injuries, but it is your responsibility to prove that your injuries meet the threshold of a serious injury. With evidence of your injuries and how they progressed in severity can help your case.
Compensation You May Be Eligible to Receive for Your Damages
Compensation is money awarded to accident victims, as recovery for injuries or for any money lost due to the accident. Without a lawyer, it is up to you to convince an insurance company, or a jury, that you deserve the compensation you are demanding. Noneconomic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering: Your injuries caused you physical and emotional distress.
- Disfigurement or scarring: Your appearance has been permanently altered in some way because of your injuries.
- Loss of consortium: Your injuries negatively impacted your ability to have an intimate relationship with your spouse.
Economic damages can include, among other things:
- Medical expenses: This can also apply for ongoing medical care for your injuries.
- Other expenses: Any out-of-pocket expenses that you needed to take care of tasks that your injuries prevented you from doing, such as childcare or housekeeping.
- Lost income: You stopped going to work for a while because of your injuries.
If you are partially responsible for the accident, under New York Civil Practice Law & Rules §1411, you are still eligible to receive compensation because of the state’s contributory negligence law. However, the greater your share of responsibility, the less compensation you may receive.
What a New York Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do For You
If you decide to hire an experienced New York personal injury law firm with results to lead your case, you’re taking the pressure off of yourself and you can recover from your accident in peace. Some additional tasks an attorney can help you with include:
- Collecting evidence: Your lawyer can comb through all available evidence, including medical records and police reports, to substantiate your claims.
- Defining the damages you qualify for: An attorney will verify that you ask for appropriate dollar amounts for each damage, and that you do not forget to ask for money you are entitled to collect.
- Filing your lawsuit: Your lawyer can take care of the paperwork and communications associated with your lawsuit.
- Meeting with the insurance company: Your lawyer can advise you on how to approach a settlement offer from an insurance company as well as what other legal measures to take if an agreement cannot be reached.
- Representing you in court: If you could not settle your case, your lawyer may take your case to court and schedule a trial.
If you have financial concerns about hiring a lawyer, many law firms work on a contingency fee basis. These firms only collect their attorney’s fees if you win compensation.
Common Mistakes Accident Victims Make Without an Attorney
Without years of experience handling personal injury claims and being in a legal setting, it’s common to make mistakes. Some frequent errors victims make in handling their accident claim without a lawyer that can hurt their settlement include:
You Gave a Recorded Statement
Most insurance claims adjusters tell victims that they need a recorded statement before making a settlement offer. Insurance adjusters will actually use anything you say to turn away your settlement offer, or they use the information to cross-examine you at trial.
Your Settlement Demand Is Too Much or Too Little
While asking for too little means you’re not taking full advantage of collecting compensation, demanding too much in recovery could also have its drawbacks. If your demand is beyond what the case is worth, you are showing that you do not fully understand the value of your case.
Accepting the Insurance Company’s Final Offer
Insurance lawyers for personal injury cases want to pay you as little as possible and often present their proposal as a final offer. People representing themselves typically don’t have any experience leveraging for a higher offer. Many victims take the first offer and walk away. Always keep asking for more money.
Ignoring Time Limits to File Their Personal Injury Claim
There is a state imposed time limit on filing legal claims for each type of accident that you should be aware of. Under New York’s statute of limitations, you have to file your claim within three years after the accident.
Not Including All of Your Damages From the Accident
Make sure you know what New York state law prescribes for damages and make a claim for every dollar. You don’t want to leave money on the table, because that settlement has the power to change your future.
Get Some Extra Help From a Personal Injury Lawyer
Although you are legally permitted to file a claim on your own, you should not have to face any legal battle by yourself. Morelli Law Firm is committed to assisting accident victims with their lawsuits. Call our office for a free case review. We charge you no attorney’s fees until we help you win compensation.