Chaos tends to rule the day when a negligent driver crashes into your vehicle. The fog of confusion, stress, and pain often make it difficult to decide how to proceed. While coping with injuries, medical attention, and transportation challenges, a quick settlement offer from the other driver’s insurance company can sound appealing. However, the other driver’s insurance company does not have your best interests in mind. The insurance adjuster has been paid to deny your claim or resolve claims for the minimum amount of money. Insurance companies have perpetrated several myths to help accomplish this goal.
Myth #1 – You do not need an attorney to resolve a car accident claim.
Most people would not attempt to perform their own medical procedure because they do not possess the specialized expertise, knowledge, education, training, and professional certifications. An injury victim who lacks experience handling car accident claims should not expect to do any better in the claims or litigation process. Even if your attorney eventually settles your pedestrian injury claim, your lawyer must file a lawsuit within a statutory time to avoid potentially forfeiting your rights. The attorney will know how to present the strongest claim to the insurance company, and if necessary, navigate the legal process while negotiations are ongoing. The litigation process entails compliance with voluminous court rules, rules of civil procedure, evidentiary standards, competing legal standards and principles, and other specialized knowledge that feels rows after rows of volumes of books in law libraries.
Myth #2 – You can just resolve your claim by working directly with the other party’s insurance adjuster.
Most insurance adjusters are friendly and seem helpful. They may politely ask you to sign a release to obtain medical records or payroll records so that they can “process your claim.” The adjuster also might ask that you participate in an interview as part of the insurance company’s attempt to evaluate your claim and compensate you. The bottom line is that these efforts are aimed at denying or minimizing your claim by looking for evidence to limit the liability of the insurer’s policyholder.
By contrast, an experienced auto accident attorney will be your advocate and share the goal of maximizing the amount of your recovery. Whether your claim is settled or proceeds to trial, an experienced car accident lawyer can navigate the law and insurance company traps while also keeping you informed throughout the course of your injury case. Your attorney also will have access to investigators, medical experts, accident reconstructionists, and other resources.
Myth #3 – An attorney will take a big piece of your recovery so that you end up with less money.
Insurance adjusters know full well that this statement is not true. Although most car accident attorneys are paid a percentage of the recovery, this typically leaves injury victims with more money in their pocket. According to research by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) in a report entitled, “Auto Injuries: Claiming Behavior and Its Impact on Insurance Costs,” injury victims with an attorney recovered 3.5 times more than unrepresented clients. Insurance companies know that people injured in car accidents and other negligence victims tend to end up with a larger “net recovery” (i.e., money plaintiffs pocket after paying all liens and attorney fees) with legal representation than by trying to handle a case without a lawyer.
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