Do I Need An Attorney?

For accident victims, the stress and trauma of a car accident, no matter the severity, can sometimes be overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to turn or who to trust. Add to that uncertainty mounting medical bills, physical pain and suffering, and financial stress, and it’s easy to see why insurance companies try their hardest to get you to settle quickly. For the insurer, you are just another number affecting their bottom-line, and the sooner you will accept a settlement the sooner they can go back to making profits.

With that in mind, determining if you need the legal advice of an attorney is not always evident. In this article we will examine the many likely scenarios you may find yourself in after an accident, and how you can make an appropriate decision to achieve your desired goal, getting your life back on track.

Managing Your Own Case

Before you begin to attempt to handle your own case, it is important to understand that doing so may make it more complicated later if you decide to hire an attorney. If you are unsure of how to handle a claim or what to do, you should consider contacting an attorney. At The Garza Law Firm, we do not charge a fee for a case evaluation, and most cases can be evaluated over the phone. This alone, means you will speak to a qualified and experienced professional who will help you determine if you should seek attorney representation.

However, here are some scenarios where you might want to go it alone. 

  1. You Were In a Minor Car Accident With No Injuries
    •  An example of this situation is a low speed rear-impact that causes very little damage and the injuries to yourself or your passengers do not necessitate visits to a doctor. In this example it may be more efficient to file a claim with your insurance or the at-fault parties insurance. Assuming minimal damage, this route should cover the costs of repair and is recommended if all parties are agreeable and not suffering from injury.
  2. You Feel Confident That You Can Negotiate With An Adjuster
    • Adjusters are people too, which means they can sympathize with your situation quite well. However they have a fiduciary responsibility to their employer to protect the financial interests of the insurance company. Ultimately this means that the insurance adjuster does not have your bests interests at heart when it comes time to negotiate repairs and settlement. They may deem certain vehicle repairs as pre-existing damage, or find previous accidents you may have been involved in as the cause of your current injuries. Often times they may expedite your case, in an effort to get you to settle quickly under the guise of helping you out. Whatever the angle of approach the goal for the insurer remains the same, settle the claim quickly and cheaply.  We do not recommend negotiating with insurance alone, for this simple reality.
  3. You Are Prepared to Spend Hours Researching Personal Injury Law and The Settlement Process
    • With the vast amount of information on the internet (often times inaccurate) many people have adapted to the DIY approach to many of life’s challenging problems. There exists numerous helpful articles and legal letter’s on the web that do offer useful information surrounding personal injury claims. We often posts such information here on our own blog as a resource for our clients and visitors. However, we simply cannot recommend handling your own case if you experience substantial injuries from your accident. In our experience every case has a unique set of challenges that must be addressed individually through an expert attorney’s review. Our firm specializes in personal injury cases, it’s what we do, it’s what we have always done for 35 years. We know the law, front to back, and that depth of knowledge saves you time, headache and frustration in the long run. 

When You Should Hire An Attorney

Now that we have examined situations where you might not need an attorney, let’s examine when it is in your best interest to have an attorney represent you.

Your Injuries Are More Severe Than You Thought

As we addressed earlier, minor accidents tend to have minor to no injuries and this can lead you into a false sense of security. However, as medical evidence will show, after an accident your adrenaline is high and your fight-or-flight instinct will usually take over. This can overwhelm any actual pain at the moment of accident and lead you to believe you are okay. Yet below the surface, your internal organs have experienced a massive shock. We often find our clients come to us after a few weeks describing debilitating muscle pains, inability to sleep, or overall aches and tension. This can require months of rehabilitation to recover from, racking up thousands of dollars in medical expenses. 

Any good lawyer will advise you to wait until you know the full extent of your injuries, as at that time you can determine what is a proper offer to accept. 

Pain and Suffering Damages

Often times we see new clients that are unaware of the damages that they are entitled to. Accidents are stressful, emotional and taxing on not only the body, but the mind as well. This pain and suffering is part of what we are here to make sure you are compensated for. Understanding that you were a victim of a careless driver is important to understand what you deserve. Negotiating these types of damages is not always easy to do alone, and we can advocate on your behalf to make sure you receive full compensation.

Can I Afford An Attorney?

This question alone is one of the primary reasons most people are reluctant to hire an attorney. The fear of expensive legal fees, especially when you have already experienced a financial setback, can be daunting. However, we are here to remind you that hiring us costs you nothing.

How It Works: Contingency Fee Agreements

Contingency fee agreements work by allowing the attorney to collect compensation from your settlement or damage award. This is commonly based on a percentage of the amount of money you receive. An agreement may stipulate that the lawyer gets 30 percent if you settle before a lawsuit is filed, one-third if you settle after the lawsuit is filed but during the discovery process, or 40 percent if the case actually goes to trial and damages are awarded by a jury.

What this means to you, is that the legal fees we charge for our services should never be a factor in determining if you should hire us. Our No Fee Guarantee means that you do not pay us a dime unless we settle your case. This also means that we have an inherent duty to be open and honest with you. When you request a case evaluation from us, we will review the accident specifics, and give you the truth about the viability of your claim. It is not in our interest to waste your time, or sell you on a weak case, because we will not receive compensation if we cannot win a satisfactory settlement. 

You have nothing to lose when you contact us. Our case evaluations are free. 

A Larger Settlement 

Based on a 1999 study by the Insurance Research Council, the average person receives a settlement 3 ½ times larger when represented by an attorney than when not. Often in personal injury cases this difference can be substantial. 

Any time you are injured and are dealing with an insurance company or another private party directly for your claim, you have the right to consult an attorney and have one represent you if you choose.

If you are ready to begin this process, do not hesitate to contact us today, either using the contact form below or calling us directly. We are here to help you move forward with your life, by getting you the compensation you deserve!

The Garza Law Firm

What You Need to Know About Auto Accidents

Many victims of auto accidents try to handle their own personal injury cases, believing that the insurance company will take care of the medical expenses, repairs to their vehicles and reimburse them for the lost wages. The truth is the insurance will try to find out as much from you as possible, then will tell you to send them the bills and they will take care of it. What they don’t tell you is that they will not pay your bills immediately, YOU are expected to pay for these bills yourself, they will not rush to pay your property damage or provide you with a rental car, you may be without a car for several days before any attempt is made to provide you with a rental car. Once you have completed your medical treatment, the insurance will review your bills and decide whether or not they are reasonable and necessary and then and only then offer some form of compensation. Keep in mind, most of these injuries take anywhere from 3 to 6 months for a complete recovery.

Don’t let the insurance adjuster keep you from getting the compensation your entitled to.

Immediate Steps you should take:

  1. Stop – Stay calm and do what you can within reason to avoid blocking traffic.
  2. Check to see if you or anyone has been injured. Don’t move any person who is injured. Call the ambulance immediately.
  3. Call the police and cooperate fully with the officer. Only give information necessary to explain what happened. Never admit guilt or fault.
  4. If an insurance adjuster shows up at the scene, don’t give any statements and don’t sign anything. (Remember, it’s the insurance job to discredit you by taking information when you’re scared and confused.)
  5. When possible get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses. Make a note of what witnesses say, for instance, “That car was speeding” That man went right through that stop sign”
  6. Visit your doctor or a hospital – as soon as you can.
  7. Inform your insurance company of the collision.
  8. Call The Garza Law Firm – (210)-738-1011 Before giving any statements or signing any documents, consult a lawyer that specializes in helping injured people. At The Garza Law Firm, we have helped thousands of clients get the money they deserved for their injuries.
  9. There is no such thing as a “simple auto accident.” The second you feel the impact, hear the crunch of metal and the shatter of glass, your life has entered a difficult time.

You have medical bills, lost wages during recovery, car repairs, and other expenses. The last thing you need is to hassle with the insurance company.

Don’t go it alone. Contact The Garza Law Firm today.

Plantiff signs settlement agreement.

How Personal Injury Cases are Settled

When you are in an accident caused by someone else, there are a few ways to be compensated by the at-fault party. They (their insurance usually) can offer and you can accept a personal injury settlement out of court, or your attorney can sue them in civil court with a civil lawsuit.

It is possible for a lawsuit to net more money, however the majority of personal injury cases are settled before ever going to trial.

Personal Injury Settlements Explained

Settlements are reached when the insurance adjuster or defendant (person or business you are suing) makes an offer of payment to you (the plaintiff) and it is accepted.

This can happen anytime but usually:

  • A settlement offer may be made before a personal injury lawsuit is filed, but after a potential claim arises.
  • A settlement offer can be made during a court case even after the trial has begun so long as no verdict has been reached.
  • Settlement offers can even be presented after a trial while the jury deliberates on a verdict, since one or both parties may prefer a “sure thing” settlement.

Once an agreement is reached for settlement, the plaintiff must relinquish all potential claims against the defendant from the underlying accident or injury. This is done by signing a full liability release. For example, in an auto accident case, the insurance may offer to pay the plaintiff $80,000 to reach a settlement. In order for the plaintiff to receive the $80,000 settlement they must agree to not file a lawsuit or pursue other legal remedies in connection with the accident.

Insurance Companies and Personal Injury Settlements

When insurance companies are involved settlement offers are given in the vast majority of cases. This is because insurers expect to pay out a certain number of claims as part of their business model. Insurance companies also possess the assets to be able to pay out claims. Other factors for settlement offers from insurance companies include, not wanting to incur significant legal costs for litigation and putting their financial fate in the hands of an unpredictable jury.

Understanding Why Most Personal Injury Cases Settle

There are many reasons why so many cases settle, especially when insurance companies are involved. Here a few reasons why:

  1. Settlements give the defendant the ability to control risks and avoid excess legal costs.
    • Defendants that know they are “at-fault” in an accident case, especially when the plaintiffs injuries are significant, would much prefer to not have their case placed in front of a sympathetic jury that could award the plaintiff a large damages award.
  2. Settlement can help keep a defendants case out of the public eye.
    • This is important to understand for larger companies with a public profile. Say perhaps a company produces a defective product and a only few people are injured. The company would want to avoid any major publicity that might come with a trial and would try to quietly arrange an out-of-court settlement to mitigate this. When settlements out-of-court occur it allows the company to negotiate some terms of the agreement, many such instances usually involve a confidentiality requirement.
  3. Settlements can help a plaintiff avoid a lengthy trial.
    • Winning legal battles requires a great amount of effort presenting evidence and back and forth court filings. Many times plaintiffs are not willing or able to endure the financial stress that comes with awaiting a judgment in their favor. Appeals can also delay any payments to the plaintiff.  Settling before a trial case can avoid the extended time from injury to payment.
  4. Settlements give the plaintiff a guaranteed win.
    • As with most legal matters, there is no guarantee of success in a court battle. It is possible for a plaintiff to lose a case and receive nothing. Settlements provide a way to ensure guaranteed payment even if it is not the highest amount possible.