Having the right attorney can be the difference between securing a settlement or suffering under the weight of medical bills and lost wages following an accident. Whether you were involved in a car crash, suffered a slip and fall, or were involved in any other form of accident, choosing the right personal injury lawyer is a critical decision. However, choosing a personal injury lawyer does not need to be as complex as you may think. At The Hadi Law Firm, our trusted personal injury attorneys have connected with countless clients in need of legal representation. Now, we want to help you understand how to deal with insurance adjusters, navigate attorney consultations, consider the factors involved in going to trial, how incentives are aligned between stakeholders, lawyers that typically settle versus lawyers that usually go to trial, and the overall benefits of working with a personal injury attorney.
Insurance companies employ adjusters and claims representatives in order to reduce their losses. They do so by minimizing the amounts that the companies pay out in injury claims. If you are contacted by an insurance company representative who asks you for recorded statements, medical records, your story, releases and other information, you should tell them that you are contacting an attorney. Insurance adjusters will often try to get you to make statements that are ultimately harmful to your claim, and you should never sign releases without an attorney’s review. The releases insurance companies frequently ask for are blanket authorizations that allow them to dig through your entire medical history.
The reason they want to do this is so they can blame your injury on a pre-existing incident. This can result in your claim’s value being substantially reduced. It is also important for you to understand that the reason adjusters contact you is because their company believes that you likely have a valid claim. They want to get the information that they need in order to help them with their goal of either minimizing your payout or denying it all together. This is true even when you are dealing with your own insurance company in a case involving an uninsured motorist. Don’t fall for their tricks and instead, consult with a personal injury attorney.
After you have discussed the facts of your case and the history of your negotiations with the insurance company, an attorney may give you a general opinion of how much your case is worth and how difficult it may be to get the insurance company to pay something in that range. This is when you should discuss the different ways your case could be approached, and whether the lawyer would be willing to handle it in the way you prefer. Find out a little bit about the lawyer’s background and experience.
- Have you tried these types of personal injury cases before?
- Have you tried or settled similar cases in my city or county?
- Do you have the time necessary to actually work on my case right now?
- If not you, who will be responsible for my case?
- How will you let me know what is happening in my case?
- What is your negotiation history?
- Do you think we will need to go to trial?
- What is your comfort going to trial?
- Do we have other options?
- What will my participation in the claim be?
- What is your contingency fee and costs?
- Will I be responsible for any advanced costs if we lose?
- What do you believe is the likely outcome of my case?
Insurance companies will sometimes use dirty tactics to try to avoid paying the claims of injured people. These tactics may include unreasonable delays in your claims process, refusing to pay you even though liability is not in dispute or making unreasonably low offers despite your extensive injuries. A personal injury attorney understands these tactics. Insurance companies that engage in bad-faith negotiations may be liable to you for doing so. A personal injury lawyer may put an end to such tactics and seek the recovery that you should rightfully receive.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This arrangement means that their fee is a percentage of what the client ultimately receives in compensation. And if the amount is small, most lawyers will not take on the claim because their overhead is too high to make small cases economically worthwhile. However, even if a case is too small to have a lawyer take over the entire claim, it may still be possible to hire the lawyer on an hourly basis to give advice on particular aspects of a claim.
By hiring a lawyer willing to go to trial, the insurance company will likely end up paying the full value of your claim. At the same time, the insurance company incurs the additional expense of defending the case. From a business standpoint, it’s in the insurance companies best interest to pay the trial lawyer fair value for the claim. Because in the long run, they will save money. The insurance company will obviously value a person’s claim much higher when that person has a lawyer who knows how to try a case and can win. Learning how to choose a personal injury lawyer can save you and your family time and money.
Insurance companies are not on your side. These massive corporations like to control the entire personal injury case process, which is why they have teams of lawyers and adjusters to handle claims. Their goal is to make money, not to make sure that you get a fair settlement that represents the true value of your losses. The one thing that creates a risk to insurance companies that causes them to make higher settlement offers quickly is which lawyer you hire. Insurance companies consider your lawyer’s skill, education, reputation, and, most importantly, their track record of filing lawsuits and taking cases to trial.
On average, settlements for injury victims are 40% higher when represented by a lawyer compared to when they represented themselves. Similarly, insurance payouts are as much as 3.5 times higher for people with attorneys than people who represent themselves. The insurance company may offer you a settlement that appears to be generous. But after you accept it, you may quickly realize that it won’t come close to covering all of your losses or future medical treatment. The bottom line is that in most personal injury cases, an attorney will fight for your best interests and help you get the highest possible compensation.
Lawyers who never go to trial are not much of a threat to the insurance company. Imagine you work for an insurance company and you decide how much to pay injured people. Your goal is to pay as little as possible because this is how your performance is measured. The less you pay out in claims, the more money you save the insurance company, which will increase your chance of receiving raises and bonuses. You have two similar cases with similar injuries and liability. The only difference is the lawyer who represents the injured people. Let’s assume that one lawyer settles every case, and the other is an experienced trial lawyer.
How should you pay these two identical claims with the only difference being the lawyers? What will the lawyer who never goes to trial do if the insurance company adjuster only offers 50% of the value of the case? Well, knowing they won’t file a suit, or won’t go to trial, this lawyer has no leverage or ability to fight for you to increase the value of your case. So the lawyer’s only option is to encourage you to take the low offer. Or the lawyer has to tell you to hire another lawyer and get less or no fee.
Now look at the contrast between the lawyer who settles all of his cases and never files a lawsuit. The insurance adjuster must decide how much to pay the injured victim with the lawyer who consistently files suit and takes them to trial. If the adjuster offers this lawyer 50% of the value of the case, this lawyer will file a suit, let a jury decide what your case is worth, and seek the full value of your case.
Because the injured person hired a trial lawyer, you as the adjuster knows the insurance company will have to spend a lot of money to pay for a lawyer to defend the case. Now the case just got a lot more expensive for the insurance company with the added costs of the defense lawyer. Also, now they have to pay “Insurance Doctors” to examine the injured person. They pay the “Insurance Doctor” to come to court and testify about your injuries.
If you handle your own case, you will need to have a good understanding of the legal underpinnings of your claim as well as the settlement process. Receiving a fair amount in the settlement may involve savvy negotiation skills combined with knowledge of both the statutory laws and case law. Some injury cases are highly complex. For example, if you were injured by a defective product or by what you believe was medical negligence, you may need the help of experts in order to uncover the evidence that you will need to prove your claim. Auto accidents may require accident reconstruction, witness interviews and a solid understanding of physics. You’ll also need to be able to decipher your own medical records so that you can appropriately value your claim.
If you are not comfortable with doing these things, consulting with a personal injury attorney is in order. An attorney who is experienced with personal injury cases may be better-equipped to value your claim. Your case’s worth will include all of your economic and noneconomic losses. Insurance companies often do not volunteer offers that include money for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium and others, on their own. The Hadi Law Firm is able to negotiate the recovery for both your economic losses as well as your more intangible ones. Committed to the field of personal injury, we strive to obtain justice for our clients through the entire case while demanding fairness and adequate compensation. Let our firm assist you with developing an aggressive and winning strategy for your case while providing you with competent representation.