When you’ve been involved in an auto accident or a slip and fall, chances are you’ve suffered damages in the form of injuries, property damage, or work time loss. While the insurance company is often eager to offer you a settlement to compensate you for those damages, it may be a mistake to accept that quick settlement offer without consulting a law firm.
Who’s Representing Your Interests?
Regardless of what type of accident causes you damages, the responsible party will likely have an insurance policy to cover such incidents. The insurance company will send out an adjuster to investigate the accident and determine fault and to produce cost estimates for the company. Those estimates will be conservative and may not cover all of the losses you suffered.
The goal of the adjuster is two-fold. First, he wants to settle the insurance claim as quickly as possible. This is because he knows, if you don’t sign off on a settlement quickly, you’ll have time to weigh your options more fully. The longer it takes to settle the case, the more likely the victim is to consult a law firm.
Secondly, a part of the insurance adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company as much money as possible. This means low-balling estimates, so he can offer a settlement that’s far below what a court would award in a civil trial. Once you sign off on a settlement, there’s no going back. You’re stuck with that agreement.
An attorney who is working on your behalf can protect you against strong-arm tactics designed to get you to sign a less than adequate settlement offer. In addition to knowing the laws in personal injury cases, an experienced attorney will also be familiar with the insurance companies and their own lawyers. He may be able to use his expertise to get you a better settlement without even having to take the insurance claim to trial.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help Prepare You for the Future
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may end up with a long-lasting disability. In some cases, injuries, such as brain trauma, take time to develop far enough to present symptoms. This can take days or weeks, so signing an early settlement offer can leave you dealing with extensive medical bills, long after your case has been settled.
An attorney will take these possibilities into account, when establishing appropriate compensation to seek in your case. A long-term disability will likely affect your ability to earn income, so damages will have to reflect estimated future earnings. It will also include the costs of future therapy, ongoing treatment, and the pain and suffering that those injuries will continue to cause.
Your attorney can work with the medical personnel treating you to come up with an accurate estimate of your total medical costs. This will help you seek a better settlement than that which the insurance company initially offered.
Finally, the insurance company will likely dispute their client’s liability altogether. This means they will claim the individual or business was not responsible for the accident that caused your injuries. If the insurance company can get away without making any payout in that case, they will.
While the law doesn’t require you to obtain an attorney in a personal injury case, it’s always in your best interests to do so. Since most law offices charge on a contingency basis, your initial consultation will be free and you won’t owe your attorney a fee, unless he or she wins the case for you. This makes it easier to protect yourself and to ensure your rights aren’t abused.
Christopher is an author and blogger who is passionate about educating and encouraging his local community while working with the Garrett Personal Injury Law Firm in Oklahoma City.