July 8, 2021 | Oklahoma Law
Most injury cases never reach a jury. According to one analysis, claimants settle about 62% of claims, drop about 34% of claims, and take around 4% of claims to court.
Many claimants who receive settlements have a litigation attorney representing their claim. One of the most effective settlement strategies includes filing a lawsuit to pressure an insurer into making a fair offer.
Here are five reasons to hire a litigation lawyer for your injury claim.
Injury Claim Process
Almost all injury claims start with insurance companies. A car accident claim starts with the auto insurer for the at-fault driver. A slip and fall accident claim starts with the property insurer for the person or business that controlled the premises. A medical malpractice claim starts with the healthcare provider’s malpractice insurance carrier.
After you file a claim with the insurance carrier, a claims adjuster investigates the claim. At the end of the investigation, the claims adjuster will approve or deny the claim.
Most claims adjusters will offer a settlement that is much lower than the actual value of the case—even if the claim documents clearly establish that their insured is at fault.
Claims adjusters view the offer as the first step in a negotiation process. By making a low initial offer, the claims adjuster creates space to negotiate the claim. If you accept a low offer, the claims adjuster saves the insurance company money. If you counteroffer, the claims adjuster has space to increase the offer.
If the claim does not settle, you will need to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. For insurers, the motivation to settle comes from the risk of losing in court. The stronger your case is, the better the chance of settlement.
In court, your lawyer will present your case to a jury. Your case will need to prove that the defendant:
- Owed you a duty of care
- Failed to meet the duty of care
- Caused your injury
Your lawyer must also prove that the damages you suffered came as a result of your injury. If your lawyer proves these elements by a preponderance of the evidence, the jury will return a verdict in your favor and award damages.
Five Reasons to Hire a Litigation Lawyer for an Injury Claim
Resolving your case will require a set of skills that includes:
- Developing a legal strategy
- Negotiating a fair value settlement
- Communicating with insurers and jurors
- Advocating for your legal position
An experienced litigator has these skills.
Legal work falls broadly into two categories: litigation and transactional. Transactional lawyers negotiate contracts or apply for regulatory approvals. A litigator takes cases to court.
Some reasons you want a litigator to handle your injury claim include:
Knowledge of the Rules of Evidence
Evidence encompasses everything you present in court. Evidence includes witness testimony, physical evidence, and expert opinions.
The Oklahoma Evidence Code filters the information presented in court to ensure that the jury only sees trustworthy and reliable evidence. When a lawyer jumps up in court and says “objection,” the other lawyer usually did something that violated the rules of evidence.
Unlike transactional lawyers, litigators must know the rules of evidence. This benefits your injury claim in a few ways.
A litigator will make sure that any evidence that supports your claim complies with the rules of evidence. This prevents the insurance lawyers from objecting to your evidence.
A litigator can also exclude any evidence from the insurance company that violates the rules of evidence. For example, if the insurance company tries to have your ex-spouse testify that you are a bad person, a litigator can exclude that testimony.
This knowledge can also help during negotiations. A litigator can submit documents that satisfy the rules of evidence to support your claim. This gives the insurer a preview of your trial presentation to push your case toward a settlement.
Experience with Jury Damage Awards
An experienced injury attorney can assess the value of your case. This evaluation usually comes from years of seeing the damage awards issued by juries.
Injury cases depend on unique factors such as the severity and duration of your injuries and how they affect your quality of life. No chart simply says that your injury is worth $50,000. Instead, an injury lawyer relies on prior experience in jury trials to know the value of your case.
In negotiation, an insurer will settle based on its perception of the damages a jury could award at trial. By hiring a litigator, your lawyer can explain the potential damage award sought to the insurer.
Credibility in Threatening a Lawsuit
Settlement negotiations will sometimes hit an impasse. When this happens, your lawyer may need to threaten the insurer with a lawsuit.
A litigator has credibility when they threaten the potential for a lawsuit. If the insurer has litigated against your lawyer in prior cases, it knows what it will face in a new lawsuit.
But even if a given lawyer has not sued this insurer previously, a litigator will have much more credibility when threatening a lawsuit when compared to a transactional lawyer.
Efficiency in Trial Preparation
A litigator can negotiate your claim. But the time spent negotiating your claim will also serve as trial prep for the litigator.
During this time, the litigator will become familiar with the medical records, accident reports, and witness statements in your case. If your case fails to settle, the litigator will already be familiar with the evidence that they can use in a lawsuit.
Advocate for Your Case
Litigators have experience standing in front of a judge or jury and arguing for clients. This requires a unique combination of skills related to logic and communication. It also requires a person that can think on their feet.
These skills can help a litigator to advocate for you with a claims adjuster. At least some of the negotiations with the insurer will take place over the phone. Arguing your case with a claims adjuster will require the same skills as arguing your case before a jury.
Hiring a Litigation Lawyer for an Injury Claim
Fortunately, most injury lawyers know that litigation is an integral part of handling an injury claim. They develop skills and experience in negotiation and litigation so they can obtain the best possible results in both processes. And if negotiation does not produce a satisfactory outcome, they can move forward to litigation seamlessly.