Perhaps you think that you should negotiate directly with the insurance company. The insurance adjuster for the person who caused your injury may contact you and try to convince you that you should not hire an attorney and share any portion of your settlement. But, should you really take advice from the insurance company that represents the other side?
Before you even consider attempting to handle your own claim, there are some things you should know. First, an experienced personal injury lawyer can evaluate any offer that you might receive so that you know whether or not you are getting fair compensation for your injuries. The insurance company is a business. Their goal is to pay as little as possible on every claim to increase their profit margin. They work for the other side, not you. Second, anything you say can be used against you should your case proceed. Insurance adjusters or private investigators may be sent to take a written or recorded statement. You will be asked to provide authorizations so that the insurance company can obtain information about you. They may ask for information to which they are not entitled. The insurance company might make promises to you that it intends to settle your claim if you provide all of the information it requests. After you have provided the information, the insurance company may tell you that it does not wish to make you an offer of settlement or may make an unreasonably low offer. An experienced attorney knows what information to provide, when a statement should be given and under what circumstances.
Preparation often needs to be done to put your case in a position to receive a reasonable settlement offer. The attorney may need to gather physical evidence, witness statements and even expert reports to put your case in the best position to settle. When you are not represented by an attorney, you do not have the leverage that a lawsuit will be the response to an unreasonable settlement offer. Insurance companies keep records about attorneys. They know which attorneys are serious about pursuing their claims. Any settlement offer that you receive may very well reflect your lawyer’s experience and reputation. You have absolutely no experience.
The insurance company wants you to represent yourself, which is why they often make the suggestion. The insurance company knows that if you represent yourself, you may make mistakes. You may settle your claim too early, only to find out that you have additional injuries and may have significant additional medical costs which were not considered when you accepted your settlement. You may miss a filing deadline and be barred from bringing a claim at all. You may not realize there are liens against your settlement that you are responsible to pay. Just as an experienced accountant may pay for himself by getting you a bigger refund on your tax return, an experienced personal injury attorney is a valuable resource that is essential to the fair and proper handling of your claim. At Lacy Katzen LLP, our personal injury attorneys have been helping injured people and their families for over 70 years.