Why Hire An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?Posted March 22, 2018
SOMETIMES accident victims decide to settle their own personal injury cases. If you had very minor injuries, no significant medical expenses, and are confident that your injuries have completely healed, you may not need a personal injury lawyer. If you have a serious injury caused by the negligence of another person, however, you are more likely to lose money than to save money by handling the claim yourself. Here’s why you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney:
1. Counter the tactics used by insurance adjusters
Whenever an accident occurs for which an insurance company might have to pay compensation, the company estimates the value of the claim and sets that money aside. The job performance of an adjuster is measured by how much of that money the company keeps for itself. Settling claims for less money than the company has reserved is bad for accident victims but good for the adjuster’s career. Claims adjusters use a variety of tactics to pay less. They tell you that you cannot prove the full extent of your damages. They will argue that you were partly or wholly at fault. They will insist that you be evaluated by the insurance company’s doctor, who will conclude that your injuries are less serious than your own treating doctors believe them to be. They will delay payment of claims in the hope of wearing you down. Personal injury lawyers are immune to these tactics.
2. Back up the threat to file a lawsuit
Insurance companies do not like to be sued. Lawsuits cost insurance companies money. If their insured is sued, the insurance company has to either hire a law firm or assign in-house lawyers in the county where the lawsuit was filed. Insurance adjusters know that if a victim is not represented by a lawyer, they won’t be sued. When a lawyer represents an accident victim, insurance adjusters know that the threat of a lawsuit is real. They are much more willing to settle cases for their true value.
3. Maximize recovery for medical expenses and earning loss
Medical expenses and wage loss due to an injury are not easy for a victim to compute, particularly where your health insurer has paid “discounted” amounts for medical expenses and where you’ll have future medical expenses. A personal injury lawyer knows how to prove these items.
4. Maximize recovery for Pain and Suffering
Compensation for pain and suffering is the largest component of a jury verdict. Adjusters insist that pain and suffering isn’t worth much. Accident victims pay a fee for the services of a personal injury lawyer, but only if the lawyer obtains compensation for them. In nearly every case, that fee is more than offset by the increased compensation that the lawyer negotiates for the victim’s pain and suffering. A 2011 study commissioned by the insurance industry revealed that injury victims with a lawyer get, on average, 3 ½ times more money that those who settled their claim on their own. In cases involving more serious injuries, the multiple was 10 times or more.
5. Find Additional Insurance Policies or Sources of Recovery
Insurance adjusters will represent that there is only a limited amount of money available under their insured’s policy. This may be true, or it may not. The person at fault may have more than one insurance policy against which you could make claims. You may also have your own insurance policy or polices which you can make claims against such as an “underinsured motorist” policy. The insurance company’s settlement offer may cut off the injured party’s ability to make claims against other policies.
Christopher Shenfield, Esq., Burlingame, California, March 22, 2018.