If you were injured because of someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior, you may want to sue them for compensation. Still, can you sue for personal injury without a lawyer? Legally, yes. You can represent yourself in a personal injury case, but you will have to do much more work on your own than you would if you hire a lawyer.
This article will explain how lawsuits work and the role a lawyer can play in getting you compensation.
Your Injuries and Damages Must Qualify for Damages
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 “serious injury.”
If you do qualify for damages, you may sue for your physical injuries as well as emotional distress and financial losses. All of these types of damages are discussed in greater detail below.
You May Receive Compensation for Your Injuries and Other Damages
When filing for damages, you will need to take several laws into account. One law to consider is written in the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules (CVP) §1411 and pertains to contributory negligence. This law states that you may still be able to recover some amount of compensation even if you are partially responsible for the accident. However, the greater your share of responsibility, the less compensation you may receive.
What is compensation? Compensation is money awarded to accident victims, to compensate for their injuries (noneconomic damages) or for any money they spent or lost due to the accident (economic damages).
Noneconomic damages may include, among other things:
- Pain and suffering: Your injuries caused you physical and/or emotional distress.
- Disfigurement or scarring: Your appearance has been permanently altered in some way because of your injuries, which may cause pain or affect your self-confidence.
- Loss of consortium: Your accident injuries negatively impacted your ability to have an intimate relationship with your spouse.
Economic damages may include, among other things:
- Medical expenses: You needed to pay for medical care for your physical or psychological wounds. This may also apply if you expect to pay for ongoing medical care for your injuries in the future.
- Other expenses: You needed to employ someone to take care of tasks that your injuries prevented you from doing, such as childcare or housekeeping. This may also apply to future expenses if your injuries are permanent or still healing.
- Lost income: You stopped going to work for a while because of your injuries.
Without a lawyer, it is up to you to convince an insurance company—or a jury, if necessary—that you deserve the compensation you are demanding.
There Are Benefits to Hiring a Lawyer
What can a lawyer bring to your lawsuit? They can lead your case, taking the pressure off you and allowing you to recover from the accident in peace. When deciding whether to hire a lawyer, keep in mind that the liable party may have an attorney, and their insurance company will also have legal representation.
If you have financial concerns about hiring a lawyer, find a law firm that works for a contingency fee. These firms only collect their attorney’s fees after you win compensation. If you do not win your case, you owe your lawyer nothing.
While you focus on your recovery, your lawyer may:
- Collect evidence: Your lawyer may comb through all available evidence, including medical records and police reports, to substantiate your claims.
- Define the damages you qualify for: It is important 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.
- File your lawsuit: Your lawyer can take care of the paperwork associated with your lawsuit.
- Meet with the insurance company: You may be contacted by the insurance company to potentially settle out of court. This can be good, as it means you might get your money faster. However, you are not guaranteed to agree to a settlement, as the insurance company’s offer might be lower than what you demand. Your lawyer can advise you on how fair a settlement offer is and take other legal measures if you and the other party cannot reach an agreement.
- Represent you in court: If you could not settle your case, your lawyer may take your case to court and schedule a trial.
You can sue for personal injury without a lawyer, but you also do not have to face any legal battle by yourself either. Morelli Law Firm is committed to assisting accident victims with their lawsuits. Call our office at (212) 751-9800 for a free case review. We charge you no attorney’s fees until you win compensation.