Have you considered handling your own accident claim without the help of a lawyer? If so, you’re not alone. Many people who are injured in car crashes imagine that they can handle the settlement of their claim without the help of a dedicated legal team. They set off boldly with the information they think they might need and learn, very quickly, that their information may be powerful, but it’s not powerful enough.
In this article we hope to answer some of the questions you have about how settling an accident claim works; what information you’ll need to achieve a fair and just settlement; a few of the common pitfalls of “working without a net” and the ultimate consequences of doing so. We’ll give you a few pointers and, in the end, we’ll urge you to think about using a very valuable tool that nearly every lawyer offers free of charge.
- Why should I go to the expense of hiring a lawyer when my accident claim is an easy automatic win?
- The insurance adjuster seems like a nice lady – she is going to make sure I’m compensated promptly and fairly, right?
- I have a college education, why should I be intimidated by insurance adjustors?
- I have the police report, the repair estimate for my car, and the medical bills for my injury. What else could I possibly need to settle this claim?
- If I can’t come to an agreement I’ll get a lawyer and file a lawsuit. That’s soon enough, isn’t it?
- Is there a cheap and easy way to get an evaluation of my situation?
Why should I go to the expense of hiring a lawyer when my accident claim is simple?
One very common miscalculation when it comes to settling accident claims is the one where victims believe theirs is a “slam dunk” win. To the victim, the picture of the accident is crystal clear. The police report clearly states that the other driver was at-fault. What more could one need?
Why go to the big expense of hiring a lawyer, when everything you need to win the case is in your hands already?The answer to this question is simple. Unless you are a lawyer who handles these kinds of claims daily, you are unprepared for what’s coming your way.
We human beings can be pretty naïve. We are raised to believe that when one person harms another, the at-fault person will pay for the damage he caused. It’s a simple rule that helps society to function in a civilized way. To make it even simpler, in our society, we require drivers to buy and maintain auto insurance to take care of the expenses associated with making a mistake while driving. Easy
Unfortunately, what we fail to remember in this scenario is insurance companies are in the business of profiting. Their goals are all about keeping as much of your premium payments as possible. If you do have an accident the insurance company may put up a fierce fight to get out of paying for the damages done before paying out money it has reserved to pay claims. Additionally, the insurance company may be structured so that Insurance adjusters and corporate lawyers are assigned the task of protecting the profits their employers make. When they start compensating victims and fail to hoard all of those profits, they may soon be out of a job. Thus, in most cases, the insurance team is totally dedicated to paying as little as possible to settle any injury or property claim.
The insurance adjuster seems like a nice lady – she is going to make sure I’m compensated promptly and fairly, right?
The old saying goes something like this: You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.“Nice” Insurance adjusters use this tactic because they understand that victims who relate well with adjusters can be more easily convinced to accept smaller settlements. Adjusters are trained to take advantage of your pleasant nature. The adjuster is not your friend. If you bond with an insurance adjuster, you’re apt to take a lower offer. And, quite often, this means an offer that is much lower than the actual (and fair) value of your injury case.
Many injury victims who do hold out for a fair offer find out that the insurance companies dig in their heels because they know you do not have a legal team ready to take them to court. The nice insurance adjuster lady becomes less accommodating and unfriendly forcing you to an ugly choice. You must either agree to an inadequate settlement or a legal battle.
These gyrations may take months, but they follow in a similar way in nearly all negotiations where a lawyer is not present. It’s a system that has been time-tested by Big insurance.
I have a college education, why should I be intimidated by insurance adjusters?
You shouldn’t. The other side wants you to simply be submissive. They hope you are just too busy to fight with them and they know that they can wear down many people who are not represented by a lawyer to just take what they offer and go away.
Even if you take the time to learn the laws and determine what amount your case “should” settle for, it can be difficult for even the most high-powered non-lawyers to convince the insurance adjuster to make a fair offer, for one simple reason: No matter how educated (and smart) you are, the adjuster knows that most likely you are not equipped to conduct a Jury Trial of your injury case. Top settlements usually occur only when the insurance adjuster knows that you can take them to court, and win.
The process of settlement goes faster and more lucratively when you retain a lawyer early in the process, putting the insurance company on notice that you have the means necessary to take them to Court.
I have the police report, the repair estimate for my car, and the medical bills for my injury. What else could I possibly need to settle this claim?
While these are all important documents that you will surely need for your settlement, you may be surprised by the other facts necessary to prove your claim.
Very often, medical records are the key to winning a case. If your shoulder, for example, is damaged in an automobile accident, you may be required to prove that you’ve never before had a shoulder injury. (Insurance companies love to assert that your injury was not caused by the accident at all and they frequently succeed at this.)
If it happens that you have had a shoulder injury in the past, don’t count yourself out. Very often car crashes re-damage an old injury. When you have a legitimate claim you still expect and deserve to be compensated. Your lawyer will do the necessary work to prove that the shoulder was healed previously and working fine before your recent accident.
Other records you might need in proving your accident was caused by the at-fault driver’s negligence would include that driver’s driving history. If, for instance,the at-fault driver was drunk and he has a prior history of drunk driving, your lawyer can use this to your advantage in a big way. Obtaining driving records can be difficult for you to do on your own, but your legal team can discover this information in various ways.
Sometimes expert witnesses like an accident re-construction or medical experts are needed to explain scientifically how the impact of the accident caused injury x, y, or z. Your lawyer will know what experts are needed and can make arrangements for their testimony.
If I can’t come to an agreement I’ll get a lawyer and file a lawsuit. That’s soon enough, isn’t it?
This is tricky. It seems like it could be a good idea to put off the expense of hiring a lawyer until you know that you’ll need one. Unfortunately, the evidence your legal team may need has a way of getting lost or fading away with time.
Physical evidence disappears from the scene, skid marks fade and damaged traffic barriers get replaced in no time at all. The memories of eye-witnesses can also fade, making it difficult to get meaningful information from them as time passes. Witnesses also move away, and become harder to find over time.
Additionally, in Georgia you have just two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury. While this seems like a long time, time flies. If you put off trying to hire a lawyer until months or even weeks remain, it may be difficult to find a lawyer or firm willing to take on your case at the “last minute.” This is because it takes time to conduct an independent investigation, prepare a lawsuit, and get it filed and served before the deadline expires.
In short, the sooner you get a legal team on the job, the better off you may be in the eventual success or settlement of your claim.
Is there a cheap and easy way to get an evaluation of my situation?
Absolutely. Many personal injury specialists offer a free case evaluation. At this first consultation, you will give the lawyer your statement about how, when, and where the accident happened. He or she will then look at the police report and other documents you have including medical bills and insurance information. In the end, you should be able to have the first and most important answer you’re looking for. That is; do you have a case worth pursuing?
If there is a chance that you may not win or that it will cost more to pursue your claim than you will be able to ultimately collect, it’s helpful to know that before you invest a lot of time and money that cannot be restored to you. This free case evaluation is a powerful tool that is readily available to anybody who has been involved in an accident. We think not taking advantage of this free service is a big mistake.
At the Millar Law Firm a free telephone or in-person case evaluation is the first order of business we have with each and every potential client. It’s the best way we can ensure you get the most comprehensive representation. We have found that this is the best way for us to get to know each-other and to set out on the road to recovery of what you’ve lost.
Since 1993 the Millar Law Firm has been advising clients who have been injured through the negligence of others. Together, our team has over 65-years of hands-on experience in settling accident claims for victims who need to find justice. We’re proud of our winning track record.
For more information or a free consultation, call us today at 770-4Million.