Should I try to settle the case on my own?
In certain cases, it doesn’t make sense to hire an attorney to handle the case for you. Generally cases involving relatively minor injuries where the medical problems go away in a short period of time (2 months or less) and where the medical bills are fairly small ($3,000 or less) don’t require of the assistance of an attorney in order to obtain a favorable settlement. Our firm routinely provides advice to people who are trying to determine whether they have a case that the can and should settle on their own. We provide objective advice whether hiring an attorney will result in our clients receiving a net settlement greater than if they settled the case on their own. We generally recommend that clients not try to negotiate a settlement without speaking to us first. We frequently take cases where a client’s injuries turn out worse than was anticipated and where the client tried to negotiate a settlement directly with the insurance company. In one recent case, a client with fairly serious injuries did not consult an attorney to find out what their case was worth and asked the insurance company for an amount that was much lower than even their future medical expenses. As a result, when we took over the case, the insurance company expected to try to settle the case for the lower amount that the client originally requested. Fortunately Attorney Thompson was able to negotiate a favorable settlement for the client in an amount more than twice what the client originally told the insurance company he would accept.
Another reason to consult with an attorney before you provide information to an insurance company is that insurance companies are looking for reasons AVOID paying claims. Don’t be fooled by insurance company adjusters pretending they are on your side and claiming they will give you a good settlement without hiring a lawyer. The reality is most insurance company adjusters receive bonuses based on paying less on a claim than they should. One of the ways they do that is by obtaining statements from people shortly after they have been injured at a time when they don’t fully understand the nature and extent of their injuries and very often when they are on medications. A second tactic used by insurance company adjusters is to obtain blanket releases from the injured party in order to obtain medical records that have absolutely nothing to do with the accident. Yet another tactic is trying to pressure accident victims to accept low-ball settlements at a time when they know the injured party is under financial pressure due to being out of work, having medical bills piling up, etc. Our firm specializes in helping client obtain pre-settlement loans to help pay for rent, medical bills, and other day-to-day living expenses. We also immediately take advantage of insurance coverage that is available to the accident victim that many people aren’t even aware they have.
In cases involving serious injuries that result in chronic pain or limitations, catastrophic injury cases, or wrongful death cases, there can be no question that you will receive a better net settlement than if you have the assistance of a specialized personal injury attorney. The insurance companies’ own studies revealed that, on average, accident victims recover 3 ½ times more money if they have an attorney representing them in serious injury or wrongful death cases than if they settled the case on their own. The primary reason is that, in order to obtain a favorable settlement—even in cases where there is no question that the other party was at fault, it is critical to bring in the assistance of the very best experts to provide information about future limitations, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. This information, along with Attorney Thompson’s reputation as a tough trial lawyer with a track record of success, gives our clients the greatest opportunity to obtain a favorable settlement in the least amount of time.