Sometimes accident victims decide to settle their own personal injury cases. If you had very minor injuries, no significant medical expenses, and are confident that your injuries have completely healed, you may not need a personal injury lawyer. If you have a serious injury caused by the negligence of another person, however, you are more likely to lose money than to save money by handling the claim yourself.
- Countering the tactics used by insurance adjusters: An insurance claims adjuster has only one goal in mind: to save money for the insurance company. Whenever an accident occurs for which an insurance company might have to pay compensation, the company estimates the value of the claim and sets that money aside. The job performance of an adjuster is measured by how much of that money the company keeps for itself. Settling claims for less money than the company has reserved is bad for accident victims but good for the adjuster’s career.
- Claims adjusters use a variety of tactics to avoid paying the full compensation to which accident victims are entitled. They will tell victims that they cannot prove the full extent of their damages. They will argue that the victim was at fault for the accident. They will insist that the victim be evaluated by the insurance company’s doctor, who will conclude that the victim’s injuries are less serious than the victim’s doctors believe them to be. They will delay payment of claims in the hope of wearing down the accident victim.
Personal injury lawyers are immune to those tactics. Personal injury lawyers understand the law. They are able to assess the true value of an injury victim’s claim. They cut through the nonsense that comes from the mouths of insurance adjusters and refuse to be intimidated. Personal injury lawyers get more money for their clients because they do not give up until the adjuster agrees to pay what the claim is worth.
- Personal injury lawyers can back up the threat to file a lawsuit: The ultimate weapon in a personal injury lawyer’s arsenal is a trial. Insurance companies do not like to be sued. Lawsuits cost insurance companies money. Insurance adjusters are on the company’s payroll but when the company is sued, it usually hires a law firm in the county where the lawsuit was filed. That expense is one the insurance company would rather not incur.
Insurance adjusters know that if a victim is not represented by a lawyer, they need not fear a lawsuit. Few people who have not received a legal education have the ability to file a lawsuit, and even the few who understand the rules have little chance of winning a substantial verdict from a jury. Lawyers know how to use the legal system to a client’s advantage. When a lawyer represents an accident victim, insurance adjusters know that the threat of a lawsuit is real. They settle cases for their true value to eliminate that threat.
- Personal injury lawyers maximize recovery for pain and suffering: Based on their experience, insurance adjusters can make a realistic estimate of the verdict a jury would return if an injury victim were to pursue a trial. Personal injury lawyers make that same estimate. After subtracting the expenses that the victim would incur by going to trial, that estimate becomes a ballpark settlement figure. Lawyers start the negotiations by asking for more than that amount and adjusters counter with less, but they usually end up settling for the actual value of the claim.
Since accident victims lack that experience, they have no basis for placing a value on the claim. Medical expenses and wage loss due to an injury may be easy for a victim to compute, but compensation for pain and suffering is often the largest component of a jury verdict. Since insurance adjusters know that accident victims cannot make a realistic estimate of the award a jury would make for pain and suffering, adjusters insist that pain and suffering isn’t worth much.
Accident victims pay a fee for the services of a personal injury lawyer, but only if the lawyer obtains compensation for them. In nearly every case, that fee is more than offset by the increased compensation that the lawyer negotiates for the victim’s pain and suffering. The difference between fair compensation and the inadequate compensation that victims are offered when they do not have a lawyer makes hiring a personal injury lawyer the financially sensible choice.