personal injury lawyer checklist

Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer? (Part 1)

Insurance companies are no dummies. I’ve had defense lawyers tell me that “insurance company x will not write a check over six figures unless you are 60 days outside of your trial date.”

Is this fair? No, but it’s the reality we face in the personal injury claims process.

Reasons to Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer

“Why do I need a lawyer to represent me? What are the benefits of hiring you?” These are questions I hear often. It’s a reasonable ask, considering lawyer fees can be anywhere from 33 to 45 percent of the entire amount of the client’s settlement or verdict. The simple answer is this:

In almost every situation, an experienced trial lawyer will leave the client in a better position financially than if they handled the case themselves.

The first concept to understand is that the insurance company is representing their interests first, and yours, second.  No matter what you hear on TV from these companies about being in “good hands” or “like a good neighbor”, they are NOT trying to help you. In fact, when an adjuster gets assigned to a claim, their number one job is to try and diminish their company’s financial exposure. From the initial contact they have with the claimant, they ask a series of questions that are designed to elicit responses that may potentially help diminish their exposure at some point during the claim process. That’s why most good personal injury lawyers will advise potential clients not to make any statement to the insurance company at the beginning of the claim process.

It’s the Insurance Company’s Job to Pay As Little As Possible

In the majority of cases, a client is dealing with a multibillion-dollar insurance company that has spent millions of dollars lobbying, researching, and developing strategies to deal with personal injury claimants. Most insurance companies have levels of adjusters. Meaning that some adjusters will deal only with claimants, while other adjusters will deal only with lawyers and some companies have adjusters that only handle litigation files.

A claimant without a lawyer deals with what I call a low level adjuster. Most insurance companies only give these types of adjusters minimum authority when offering financial settlements to claimants. These insurance companies know that most people will not hire a lawyer and they will convince them to settle their case for far less than what the claims is actually worth. It’s a mathematical science to them. If the claimant hires an attorney, the claim will almost always get transferred to a new adjuster who deals with attorney represented files. Most adjusters who deal with attorneys typically have the authority to offer their insured’s policy limits. If the attorney files suit, many times the file gets transferred to one of the insurance company’s senior casualty experts to handle the file.

A Personal Injury Attorney Gives Your Injury Claim a Fair Chance

What does all this mean? Basically to be able to even get an adjuster with the insurance company to have the authority to offer you a claim’s fair value, many times will not only take hiring a lawyer, but also filing suit on the claim.

Bottom line: a good personal injury lawyer is going to be able to get the insurance company to offer a claimant a significantly greater sum of money than the claimant would be able to get on their own.

In Part 2, I will discuss the lawyer’s role as a litigator and how his skills will increase what the insurance company will put on the table. In this discussion I will touch on the lawyers ability to reduce subrogation liens and medical expenses that the claimant may have to pay back out of the settlement.