Car Accident FAQ
Do I need an attorney or should I try to handle my claim on my own?
It is the goal of every insurance adjuster to minimize claim payouts to increase the profits of the company. The less money the company pays out on claims, the more money it has to divide between its’ investors. Often, insurance adjusters are even rewarded by their employers for resolving claims quickly for a minimal sum or no compensation at all to the injured claimant. Many times an attorney can obtain more money for your claim than you can obtain on your own. An experienced attorney can sometimes double or triple (or more) the recovery you can negotiate on your own. No matter how kind or sympathetic they may sound, remember they are being compensated for every dollar they don’t offer you. Therefore, the goal and purpose of an insurance company and its’ adjusters are in direct conflict with your best interests.
The job of your attorney is to recover the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries and loss. Your attorney’s sole job is to work on your behalf and fight the insurance company, in court if necessary, to obtain the best possible outcome for you. You should be able to focus on your recovery instead of worrying about whether an insurance company is trying to cheat you on your claim. Let the attorneys at Miller & Pearson deal with the insurance companies and all the other headaches that go along with the aftermath of a serious accident.
In cases where you have a severe injury, (broken bones, surgery, scars, a head injury, or other permanent injury), and in cases which involve criminal activity (hit and run, DUI, DUS, reckless behavior, or violations of laws and regulations, etc.), it is critical to retain an attorney to ensure that you are receiving the full value of your claim. Under these and other exceptional circumstances, you may be entitled to an award of punitive damages in addition to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are awarded to punish a wrongdoer for their reckless or intentionally destructive behavior. An attorney knows when to make a claim for punitive damages on your behalf, and knows how much that can increase your overall recovery.
You may also be entitled to a recovery under multiple policies of insurance provided by other insurance carriers, including your own. It is imperative to identify every possible avenue for recovery when seeking compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at Miller & Pearson have years of experience handling personal injury cases. We understand how to assess the value of your case and we know how to locate other sources of recovery for you. This is where the services of an attorney prove to be most valuable. It is critical that you consult with an attorney prior to signing any document presented to you by an insurance company. Without an attorney, you may be signing away your right to additional compensation for your injuries.
The insurance company wants to send someone to my house to write me a check and settle my case. Should I accept the money?
Don’t forget what you read moments ago. It is the goal of every insurance adjuster to minimize claim payouts in order to increase the profits of the company. Remember, insurance adjusters are often rewarded by their employers for resolving claims quickly and for a minimal sum or no compensation at all to the injured claimant. The less money they give you, the bigger the bonus they will receive and the more money the company has to divide between its’ investors.
Insurance companies often send adjusters directly to your home with a checkbook in hand within days or sometimes even hours of your accident. They know you are at your most vulnerable point during this time. The insurance company wants to settle your claim before you can consult an attorney or even a doctor regarding your injuries. Under the laws of the state of Texas, you often have a period of years within which to bring your claim. Thus, there is no reason to feel pressure to accept a quick or unreasonable settlement offer.
Think about buying a car or a house. Do you give your best offer first and leave no room to negotiate? Of course you don’t. If the insurance company is willing to offer you a settlement with no proof of your injuries or claim, they think you will be entitled to much more at a later date and they want to eliminate that possibility. They offer a very low amount with the hope that you will accept the offer and shield them from any future payout, no matter the injuries that materialize later.
Take your time, consult your doctor and seek the advice of an experienced attorney before accepting any money or signing any documents from the insurance company. Once you sign a release, your claim is over. If you change your mind, or your injuries worsen, the insurance company will not be responsible for any additional payment on your claim.
The insurance company wants me to give them a recorded statement. Should I do that?
Recorded statements are taken for the sole purpose of utilizing your own words against you at a later date. Even a seemingly innocent comment can be misconstrued and can be used to deny payment on your claim. These statements are recorded to preserve your testimony for use at trial. Under no circumstance should you ever provide a recorded statement without first seeking the advice of an attorney. In most instances, the recording can be avoided. In other instances, you can provide the statement while your attorney is present and able to help protect you and your rights.
The insurance company wants me to sign a medical authorization. Should I do that?
Unlimited medical authorizations enable insurance companies to obtain and investigate your most personal information to include medical records, employment records, educational records, and financial records. They are used to find evidence which in many instances the insurance company will use against you to deny payment or reduce your recovery. Under no circumstance should you ever provide an unlimited authorization to an insurance company without first seeking the advice of an attorney. When you retain an attorney, the attorney will obtain only the records necessary to support your claim and will provide only those documents to the insurance company in order to protect your privacy. You can trust the person you hire to protect your best interests, you cannot and should not trust the insurance company with your personal and sensitive information.
What is my case worth?
No two cases are alike. The value of your case will turn on a variety of factors which your attorney can assess to determine a range of acceptable settlement values. The severity of your injury, the length of your medical care, the amount of damage to the vehicles involved in the collision, the amount of your medical expenses, the conduct of the defendant, and the jurisdiction in which your case would be filed, all play a critical role in determining the ultimate value of a claim.
Each insurance company employs individuals whose sole responsibility is to value each case and determine a dollar figure for the company’s exposure. The offers they make for settlement will often be taken directly from their calculations regarding their level of exposure. The company has a much lower level of exposure if you attempt to represent yourself and their exposure increases when you hire an attorney, if that attorney has to file a lawsuit, and if the lawsuit actually goes to a jury trial. Each step increases the cost and potential liability for the insurance company and they are willing to increase their settlement offers in an increasing manner to avoid a big jury verdict in the end.
You cannot determine the value of your case based on a simple formula nor should you evaluate your case based upon stories of settlements obtained from unreliable sources or even settlements obtained by friends and relatives under different circumstances. Each case should be evaluated on its individual merits by an attorney with experience in handling personal injury claims in your area.
For an in depth evaluation of your case, or to just hear the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney, call the attorneys at Miller & Pearson today. You won’t regret it!