Can I Settle My Car Accident Case Without a Personal Injury Lawyer?
The above are two questions that many of you may commonly ask. Why do not I need to hire a lawyer to handle my car accident case? Won't I know enough to settle it for a reasonable sum? What is the average settlement for an accident case? How do I get reasonable money for my accident case? But then the other questions start? Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company? How much should I ask for my injuries? Is my case worth $500,000, or $50,000, or $5,000.00?
These questions above, and many more, are likely to arise if you attempt to handle your accident case on your own. If there's no injury, it is unlikely you'll be able to get a lawyer involved. But if there is a serious injury or death, you absolutely need a lawyer to hopefully get your maximum value for your case.
Other questions and issues that you may have to deal with: If the insurance company is telling you that they are offering you the policy limits, how do you know that that's true? How do you know there's not an excess or umbrella insurance policy? Can you even believe what the insurance adjuster is telling you? How do you know whether or not the person who injured you might have been in the course and scope of his or her employment, thereby implicating their employers’ insurance coverage? How do you know the wealth of the individual? Maybe they have a small insurance policy, but they might be worth millions of dollars.
We just settled a case where the at-fault driver who was a young kid in his 20s only had $10,000 worth of insurance. But we settled for $150,000. Why? Because we knew where to look for more insurance coverage. And the funny thing is, that his mom, who owned the car, and is therefore on the hook in Florida for at least a half million dollars, lived in a $2 million home. Now this wasn't an extremely serious injury case, but whether it is or isn't, you should hire a lawyer to make sure that everything is on the "up and up."
Four years ago in college, my now 22 year old son gave his car to a friend who got into an accident with a police officer. We had State Farm insurance company at the time (we've been through two other insurance company since, we hate State Farm now).
Anyway, so when State Farm disclosed our insurance policy limits, I was shocked to see that they failed to disclose that we had a several million dollar umbrella policy. Amazingly, they did that under oath, I guess subject to the penalties of perjury. In other words, had there been an extremely serious injury, and somebody took their affidavit as the truth, they could've been shortchanged millions of dollars in potential recovery.
So unfortunately, I've experienced firsthand from all sides the fact that insurance companies cannot be trusted. They never even bothered to contact us and ask us whether we had an excess insurance coverage. They just put down our car insurance limits, and never included our umbrella coverage.
So if you think you can build your own house from foundation to roof, and do it adequately, then handle your own car accident case or your own personal injury case. But I can tell you that when I was building my house, I just watched it. I hired an architect and hired a builder. You should do the same. If you have an accident or injury case, hire or at least consult with a lawyer.
Just as you wouldn't build your own house with your own hands from start to finish, you should not handle your own accident case from start to finish. Just as an architect has to draw plans for a house, your attorney needs to be making plans for your case from day one. First things first! Even before calling your insurance company, call a lawyer who specializes in handling accident and personal injury cases.