Do I Really Need To Consult An Attorney?
Yes. It is always a good idea to obtain a free consultation with an attorney regarding your case before providing a recorded statement to an insurance carrier or deciding to handle the case yourself. The reason is simple: THE INSURANCE CARRIERS HAVE ATTORNEYS WORKING FOR THEM AND YOUR CLAIM COULD BE MUCH MORE COMPLICATED AND VALUABLE THAN YOU THINK. The adjusters have years of experience in asking questions and focusing on facts that undermine the value of your case, while at the same time omitting or ignoring facts that generate value for your case. It takes years of claims experience, litigation in court, trials and successful verdicts to pose a real threat to the insurance carriers. They will initially be nice to you and say things like, “Don’t worry, we will pay for reasonable medical care and pain and suffering.” Later people are shocked when the adjuster simply will not pay a fair value on a claim unless forced to do so by a seasoned and experienced trial attorney, usually, after the client has lost valuable rights and time to collect vital medical diagnostic studies and critical medical treatment and forensic evidence. A person with no experience stands little chance of obtaining the money they deserve against a seasoned adjuster, and may potentially settle their claim for a small fraction of what it is worth. Obtaining the best personal injury attorney to fight on your behalf is the single biggest decision that will affect the value of your settlement. It literally could mean the difference between settling for $100,000.00 instead of $5,000.00. It happens more often than people think. An experienced accident attorney makes a tremendous difference in settlement value and trial value.
“See What Can Happen If You Don’t Have a Personal Injury Attorney”
Here are things that could or have happened with people who tried to handle cases themselves:
- BLOWN SETTLEMENTS BASED ON UNDIAGNOSED/UNREALIZED INJURIES: A man settled for less than $5,000.00 (Five Thousand) instead of over $300,000.00 (Three Hundred Thousand) because he failed to understand how a simple symptom, a tingling sensation in a finger, made his case worth 60+ times more than the amount he settled for. Within months after he settled, he discovered that he needed neck surgery. Had he sought out the best personal injury attorney available for a FREE consultation before he settled, he would have obtained the diagnostic studies and settlement he deserved. An experienced accident attorney can identify symptoms early and get them properly diagnosed with and objectively verified with forensic specialists. An experienced accident attorney also knows the value of numerous different types of injuries, such as neck injuries, back injuries, shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, hip injuries, knee injuries, head and brain trauma, foot injuries, ankle injuries, and numerous other injuries, as well as the nature, extent, and short and long-term impact of those injuries.
- MISSED FILINGS/BLOWN PROCEDURES: People often make serious procedural errors or misfile their case, seriously damaging their case values. Although they file in the right County, they may unwittingly limit the value of their case and take away serious leverage for settling their case by not understanding the procedural requirements for varying case values, and how to appropriately file the necessary documentation. These problems can be amended with the experienced accident attorney with litigation experience. However, many cases are lost and dismissed, or limited in their recovery simply because people think they can save a buck by not hiring the best personal injury attorney available to them. The judges will often strongly encourage people representing themselves to obtain an attorney precisely because they see so many people ruin their cases by failing to obtain an accident attorney.
- MISSED DEADLINES: Adjusters routinely act nice initially, lull people into a sense of security, and then make low ball offers right before important deadlines, and then ignore the desperate phone calls from the very people they were originally so nice too. This leaves people scrambling to find attorneys who are loath to take a case right before the filing deadlines without sufficient information. Many potential clients call right before the deadline wishing they had retained an accident attorney before having been betrayed by the insurance carrier. Additionally, there is a myriad of different deadlines that could apply to any case because there can be more than one party involved. This can be very complicated for a person without legal training to understand. If there is an auto accident, for example, there could be deadlines that are two (2) years, but also less well known deadlines with government agencies that could also share liability that are six (6) months or one (1) year, or other deadlines relating to insurance liens (discretion to bill MediCal or MediCare) that the adjuster never informed the injured person about, as it is not their duty to offer deadlines to claimants that don’t relate to their specific claim.
- LOW BALL SETTLEMENTS BASED ON EXTREME MEDICAL BILL REDUCTIONS: Adjusters often state that they will pay for all reasonable medical expenses and pain and suffering when people start out their claim, giving a sense of false hope and security, leading claimants to believe they don’t need an accident attorney. Later, after the person submits their medical bills and records, the claims adjuster cuts the medical bills and says something like:
“Your bills were UNREASONABLE; we are only going to pay for half of those bills. Your doctor was over billing. We had a medical billing expert look at the bills and they were too much, so we are only going to pay half of them.”
The adjuster then lowers your pain and suffering to a few hundred dollars or maybe a few thousand dollars, when jury verdicts show that the value of the claim is much, much more. Retaining the best personal injury attorney to negotiate on your behalf will quash and/or eliminate these false arguments billing reduction and other arguments, and force the adjusters to treat you fairly.
- FAILURE TO TREAT DUE TO LACK OF INSURANCE or MONEY / DELAYS IN TREATMENT / FAILURE TO OBTAIN FORENSIC MEDICAL EVIDENCE: During the early phases of treatment after an accident, it is important that there are no gaps in treatment because insurance companies later exaggerate or distort any delays in treatment, despite what the adjusters tell you early on. Some people also delay treatment until the insurance company agrees to pay for it because they cannot afford to pay for treatment and have no health insurance. The insurance company won’t pay for treatment up front, but will often delay responding to those requests to maximize the amount of time that a person delays in getting treatment. Early and consistent medical treatment supported by proper forensic medical evidence is then compromised, seriously undermining the value of the person’s claim. Proper objective medical treatment and evidence needs to be obtained early on as many of the injuries could heal over time, making objective forensic medical findings more difficult to secure later on when the insurance company denies causing injuries. People often don’t know how to obtain that type of objective forensic medical evidence, and their doctors are often treating physicians who are not concerned about obtaining forensic evidence for a legal case as they are focusing more on just getting the patient better. While it is true that patient care and treatment comes first, it should not be at the sacrifice of obtaining objective diagnostic data and other forensic medical evidence. Unfortunately, many doctors may treat their patient in such a way that omits important forensic medical evidence in a timely fashion that will make a claim more difficult to prove later on. Missing out on valuable forensic medical evidence can lose people hundreds of thousands of dollars on their claim. Retaining the best personal injury attorney available for your case will help ensure objective medical treatment and evidence is timely obtained, even for the poor, destitute, and those without health insurance or other coverage.
- RELYING ON CONVERSATIONS WITH THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER THAT WILL NEVER BE MADE KNOWN TO THE JURY: Many people think that if an adjuster tells them something, they can bring that up to a jury later. However, except in certain circumstances, typically people cannot mention insurance at all during trial, and cannot testify or even mention conversations with an adjuster. This emboldens adjusters to use phrases and tactics during their conversations that undermine the claimant’s claim and maximizes their defenses. For example: The adjuster may implicitly encourage a claimant to wait a few days to treat to see if they get better only to later tell them that their delay in treatment is a reason for a low settlement; The adjuster may state that they will pay for all of their medical bills, only to later state that they will not pay for most of them because they are unreasonable; The adjuster may state they are on their side, and that they will pay for their lost wages, only to later reject them; The adjuster may discuss paying for medical bills and suggest getting back to the person about paying them, only to have the person wait for weeks before they realize they are going to have to treat on their own. People are often shocked when they handle their own case thinking the adjuster is acting in their best interests, only to later have the adjuster point out that whatever they said was misconstrued or misleading, yet it is likely still inadmissible in court, and totally irrelevant to the valuation of the person’s claim. Anyone who has suffered an injury in an auto accident or slip and fall accident should seek out the best personal injury attorney available to advocate against the adjuster by filing a lawsuit if they don’t treat you’re fairly and putting a stop to the games played by adjusters that undermine the value of legitimate claims.
- PROVIDING RECORDED STATEMENTS THAT ARE BIASED/MISLEADING AND OMIT MATERIAL FACTS: People who don’t obtain attorneys often give recorded statements to adjusters about their personal injuries and accident. This is usually a big mistake. The adjuster is not going to allow you to get a recorded statement of their client in return. The adjuster will pose questions in a way that will help his liability case and could mislead the person into answering in a manner that minimizes their injuries while omitting material facts about what was manifestly in support of injuries. Additionally, it is almost impossible for anyone to give a recorded statement, and then a deposition, and then testify at trial without having significant lapses in memory, etc. It is therefore tactically, for example, an adjuster might ask:
Question: Did the other driver ask you if you were okay after the accident?
Question: Did you say you were okay?
Note how this question tends to lead a jury, later on, to believe that the person was not injured, without going into greater depth about what was actually felt or experienced by the injured party at the time he said it, or shortly after. Often an injured party experiences heightened adrenaline that diminishes or eliminates the sensation of pain. However, the injured party may have been shaking or teary eyed or felt some numbness, tingling, soreness, or stiffness that they thought would just get better over time. Some people even experience fractures, but due to their adrenaline from the traumatic incident, don’t feel any significant pain for hours, etc. Thus, many people, even people with fractures, would answer “okay” to that question even though they may later discover an increase in symptoms and learn they have a serious injury. Nevertheless, the adjuster will use the recording against the claimant to demonstrate that the person was not injured, while omitting all of the material facts supporting the client’s claim. It is hard for the claimant to testify about what actually happened later on, because it looks contrived, despite the fact that is isn’t. Many people that are not seriously bleeding and can walk will answer the same way, but it is better to be prepared for such questions before a recorded statement is taken. This is only one of numerous examples where an adjuster can trick an innocent and unsuspecting claimant. An experienced and top rate accident attorney will never let a client provide a recorded statement without fully briefing them on the trick questions that are typically asked by adjusters, the key elements to discuss can follow up at the time with all of the questions that help the client identify the signs of injury that are omitted by the adjuster, and bring out the objective facts that support the client’s claim.
- LOST LEVERAGE: Insurance companies and/or their attorneys often track or know the best personal injury attorney’s in the area, and settle the cases accordingly. Without an attorney, a person has little or no leverage against the insurance company. The reason for this is simple: THE ULTIMATE LEVERAGE AN INSURANCE COMPANY CARES ABOUT IS THE RISK OF A HIGH TRIAL VERDICT. Without one of the best personal injury attorneys in the area, there is no threat of a large verdict, and a large verdict is the only leverage a person ultimately has. Insurance companies are going to run an analysis on what the value of the case is based on prior jury verdicts with similar injuries, and will take into account whether the person making the claim will have one of the best personal injury attorneys available with a winning trial record to obtain a large verdict, compared to a person or attorney who has no trial experience and a poor record. Without an attorney, there is little or no incentive for the insurance company to provide a large settlement. From their perspective, better to low ball the common person, most of whom will never get an attorney, and save some money on the claims. Many claimants will never know any better, and may even think they saved money on attorney fees, not knowing that they sold themselves short.
- INABILITY TO FORCE SETTLEMENT THROUGH LAWSUITS: Some people shy away from filing lawsuits, but insurance companies don’t. They play hardball. To them, real money is at stake, the claimant is just a number, and they know many people are afraid or intimidated by lawsuits. Insurance companies will often offer far, far less than what a client deserves, forcing the client to file a lawsuit unless they accept their low offer. An exceptional attorney with extensive experience will compel a better settlement by filing a lawsuit if necessary, obtaining objective evidence and evoking pertinent law throughout litigation, and then compel the insurance carrier to re-evaluate the case to something that is fair and reasonable under the law, and pursuant to existing verdicts. A person should always retain the best personal injury attorney available, and that means an accident attorney that actually goes to trial, fights the insurance companies and wins large jury verdicts.