Insurance companies focus on dollars, not victims.
Many automobile accident victims try to handle their injury claim on their own. They do this with the sincere hope that the insurance companies will work fairly, honestly and quickly. But know this….negotiating your own claim can be frustrating and costly. One wrong move or one mistake can cost you a great deal of money. Making uninformed guesses as to the value of your case can cost you a huge loss of money and denial of your rights. The below information will help you walk through whether or not you need an injury attorney.
So when should you hire an injury attorney?
- Disputed Liability – This is when the insurance carrier is refusing to accept responsibility for your claim. Most often the insurance company will claim that you were partially at fault in causing the accident, called Contributory Negligence. This usually forces a person to either abandon their rightful claim, or hire an attorney to fight the insurance company.
- Disputed Injury – This is when the insurance company does not believe you were injured. They will pick apart your medical records, dredge up information about your past health and look for any way to claim that you could not have possibly been injured in the accident. A popular claim by the insurance company is to say that based upon the amount of property damage to your vehicle, the force of the impact was insufficient to cause you injury.
- Complex or Lengthy Medical Treatment – Usually, the higher your medical bills are, the more your claim is worth. Thus, if you get any form of extended treatment past the emergency room, the insurance company will start looking for ways to discount your continued treatment. They may claim that you waited too long to seek medical attention after the accident, or that it was not medically necessary for you to seek additional medical treatment. Lately, almost every visit someone makes to the doctor seems to be a battle with the insurance companies.
- Unreasonable Insurance Adjuster – Never forget, this is the person that has been hired by the insurance company to get your claim resolved as quickly and as CHEAPLY as possible. They are not on your side. You are not in good hands. They are not a good neighbor. They can be rude, dismissive, unreasonable, unresponsive and distrustful of everything you say. Now, we know there are very nice adjusters out there. Partner Jennifer Seate was an Allstate adjuster and she was extremely nice to deal with when she was on the opposite side. But she will tell you as well, the insurance adjuster is NOT looking out for your best interest. They are looking out for their employer’s best interest.
- Stress Removal – When you are injured, in pain, worried about paying your bills, worried about your transportation, the last thing you want is to be stressed out by an overbearing insurance adjuster pressuring you to make decisions. This is usually when mistakes happen which can cost you money.
- Protection – The best reason to hire an attorney is to make sure your rights are protected. The insurance company is not going to look after you. The insurance adjuster is not going to give you the best advice. You are not going to understand all of the compensation that is available to you without legal advice. If the insurance company low balls you, you need to make sure someone can recognize that and fight those tactics.
Some of these issues may not appear right away. Sometimes you may get strung along for weeks with promises by the insurance adjuster to investigate your claim promptly and to authorize medical treatment, only to find your claim being denied. These are nothing more than delay tactics to cause further problems to your case down the road. It is important that you know how to collect all of the proof and evidence that you need to make your claim solid. If the insurance adjuster gets any indication you are not quite sure what you are doing, you can count on them targeting you as someone they can low ball or even deny.
Many people want to try to handle their claim first and save an attorney fee. Then they get deep into the case and find that the adjuster is using hardball tactics. At that point, people want to hire an attorney to get involved, but sometimes the damages done cannot be easily corrected. While we will evaluate your case for free, we may not be able to get involved if you inadvertently harm your case by trying to handle it yourself.
When can you handle your claim without an injury attorney?
With all that be said above, not everyone who has been in an automobile accident needs to hire an attorney. When people seek representation from our firm, there are two scenarios where we will tell them that they do not need to hire an attorney:
- When there are no injuries and you have only a property damage claim (damage to your vehicle). These claims are fairly straightforward to deal with and the law is fairly clear as to what you are entitled to.
- When there are very minor injuries that completely resolve within a few days of the accident. However, it is extremely important that you do not rush into a settlement. We have seen many instances where someone believes they are injury free, settle their claim, and then later realize they have an injury. Unfortunately, once you settle the case, you are forever barred from getting any further compensation.
If you are going to settle your own injury claim, here are a few more things to be aware of:
- Make sure you are 100% injury free. Once you settle your claim, you are forever barred from coming back and making additional claims. As such, we do recommend people wait at least 30-60 days before they attempt to settle their claim to ensure hidden injuries do not surface.
- If you are in any way hurting or in pain, even if it is nominal, you should get medical treatment. The longer you wait, the more reason the insurance company has to deny your claim.
- Make sure you claim to the insurance company all of your medical bills.
- Make sure you claim a reasonable amount for your pain and suffering.
- Never hesitate to contact an attorney and ask if the final offer by the adjuster is a reasonable one. We get calls all the time from people just wanting to know if they should take an offer and we are always glad to evaluate your case for you.
If you are unsure if you need to hire an injury attorney or not, you can call us and we will give you an honest appraisal. In choosing an injury attorney, you should choose a firm that has a solid reputation of being willing to take your case all the way to Court if need be. Ask of any law firm you talk to how many cases they try a year in front of a jury. Not how many they settle, but how many they actually try in front of a jury all the way to a verdict. We believe a law firm that is not afraid to go to court shows a consistent pattern with the insurance companies that there is no fear in fighting the claim out all the way.
If you have been hurt, or a loved one has died, as the result of a car accident, you need the help of injury attorneys who have the experience and resources to protect your rights. Do not permanently lose your right to seek damages from those who caused you harm, call Leone Noble & Seate today. Whether we’re gathering evidence by preserving accident records, consulting with you on legal strategies, or representing you in negotiations with insurance agents, our car accident lawyers are always working to ensure that your accident claim receives the maximum compensation available to help in your recovery. Call for FREE advice at (919) 847-4804 or toll free at (877) 847-4804 to speak to an attorney same day.
For more helpful information regarding your legal rights, check out these accident injury articles.
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