Can I Handle My Virginia Personal Injury Case Myself?

By Peter DePaolis

Virginia law does not force you to hire a personal injury attorney to handle your injury claim, but choosing to work with a lawyer can be a smart decision. Many things can go wrong long after the accident that can decrease the amount of money you receive or destroy your claim entirely.

A Virginia personal injury attorney can help you avoid the mistakes that can hurt your case. Let’s look at the question, can I handle my Virginia personal injury case myself?

Recorded Statements Can Only Hurt Your Case

When you get injured in a car crash that is someone else’s fault, their insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to investigate the collision and process your injury claim. The claims adjuster will likely contact you and ask you to give a recorded statement. A recorded statement is when the adjuster asks you a series of questions and records all of your responses.

The claims adjuster then gets a transcript of the recording, cherry-picks your statements, and splices them together into something that you might not have intended to say. Out-of-context statements could be used to deny your claim and possibly blame you for causing the accident.

We advise our personal injury clients not to give recorded statements, in fact, not to talk directly to the defendant or their insurance company at all. We can provide all the information the claims adjuster needs to evaluate your claim.

You Do Not Pay Upfront Legal Fees on Personal Injury Claims

Some people do not hire a personal injury attorney to handle their claim because they think they cannot afford to do so. On the contrary, you do not have to pay upfront legal fees to get our help on your personal injury case. Instead, we wait until the end and receive a portion of the settlement or court award. 

We agree in writing at the beginning of the case on what the percentage will be. We sign a written agreement with you that contains the terms of this contingency fee arrangement. If you do not win, you will not owe us a single penny for legal fees.

Claims Adjuster Tactics to Avoid

Claims adjusters are not necessarily bad people. They are simply individuals doing their job. The job of a claims adjuster is to pay you as little money as possible to resolve your claim against their insured. Some of the strategies claims adjusters use include:

  • Low-ball settlement offer. Insurance companies and personal injury attorneys have access to databases that show them how much money juries have awarded in cases similar to yours. If you try to handle your case on your own without this information, you might find out later that you should have received much more money than you did for your claim.
  • Tricking you into not hiring a lawyer. Claims adjusters frequently tell people that personal injury lawyers are too expensive and do not provide any benefit for the injured party. If lawyers truly were too expensive and did not provide any benefit on these cases, then why do insurance companies hire hundreds of them to work for them on these claims?
  • Dragging out negotiations. Virginia sets a time limit on filing a lawsuit for compensation in personal injury cases. If you miss the statute of limitations, you lose the legal right to hold the at-fault party accountable for your injuries and other losses. You might think that the claims adjuster is negotiating with you in good faith until they stop returning your calls and emails. You then get a letter explaining that the defendant and insurance company have no more legal liability on your claim because the deadline passed.

When a claims adjuster sees that the injured party is not working with an attorney on their injury claim, the claims adjuster is more likely to try these tactics. A Virginia personal injury attorney can protect you and fight hard for your rights to fair compensation from the at-fault party. Get in touch with our office for a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.