Why You Shouldn’t Try to Settle Your Accident Claim Without Consulting a Lawyer
The following examples illustrate why someone involved in a vehicle accident should speak to an experienced car accident lawyer before attempting to settle their own claim:
John settles his claim against the at-fault driver for $25,000 (the other driver’s policy limits). The other driver’s insurance company tells John that the other driver doesn’t have any substantial personal assets; therefore John thinks that he is doing the right thing. John feels good about collecting his settlement while not having to pay an attorney one-third of it.
Now John knows that he has $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage that he has paid for. Nobody bothered to tell him, though, that if he released the at-fault driver (or owner, as the case may be), he could be barred from collecting the $100,000.00 of additional coverage that he paid for and continues to pay for.
When John contacts his insurance company to collect on what he has been paying for for years, his insurance company tells him he has prejudiced their right to subrogate against the at-fault liable party, and that he is no longer entitled to collect on his own policy.
John later consults with an attorney regarding his case, and finds out that he can no longer file a claim against his own insurance company for the underinsured motorist coverage he may have been entitled to above his settlement amount. John was not aware that his insurance company needed to receive notice of the settlement against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, and that there was a clause in his insurance policy that required him to get permission from his own insurance policy and which warned him against signing the release.
If John had spoken to an attorney before settling his own case, he possibly could have received higher compensation for his injuries. In fact, people who are injured in a car accident and hire a lawyer obtain 3.5 times more money for their accident claim than people who do not hire a lawyer, according to a 1999 study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC).
Being involved in a car accident is hard enough, but dealing with insurance companies after your accident on your own can prove to be even more difficult. Insurance adjusters are professionals who are trained to offer the lowest compensation possible for accident claims. It is therefore important to let an experienced personal injury attorney negotiate with the insurance companies.
Determining the value of your case, whether your case is small or large, is difficult without the assistance of a lawyer. That is why it is in your best interest to contact a car accident lawyer before speaking to the insurance company and potentially damaging your chances of obtaining a higher recovery for your claim.
Many times, clients come to us after they have tried to handle a case by themselves. Often times, they have damaged their case by either giving statements to the insurance company, which we usually do not allow unless it is to their own insurance company, or by negotiating the case themselves, realizing that is going nowhere, and then finally coming to an experienced lawyer.
If you come to us early on, we know what needs to be done to your case and to help you. We can get you to doctors who are qualified, but at the same time understand what it is to handle a personal injury or accident case it may end up in litigation. You do not want inexperienced doctors who never testified in a courtroom, or doctors who do some work for insurance companies, as your primary doctor on an accident case.
We have a pretty good idea of what the value of a case is in general. Our lead attorney has almost 36 years of experience, and when it comes time to negotiate we have many employees who put the heads together to achieve the maximum result.