In over 30 years in private practice as a personal injury attorney, have seen literally thousands of personal injury claims. And some of the most egregious conduct I have seen on behalf of insurance adjusters seeking to convince the victims not to hire counsel involve the most serious of the injuries.
Perhaps it is because the insurance company often faces such huge exposure on a case where someone is paralyzed, lost a limb or sustained a devastating close head injury that they hope to convince a victim not to get help.
YOU DON’T WANT TO HIRE A LAWYER = WE DON’T WANT YOU TO GET A LAWYER
Over the years, I’ve seen many cases where the insurance adjuster tried to convince the injury victim not to retain a personal injury lawyer. Some of the comments I’ve heard repeated were:
“You don’t need a lawyer – we can work it out”
“We accept responsibility – why would you want to pay a lawyer half”
“An attorney will take most of your money”
“There’s no reason for you to hire a lawyer”
“We are accepting fault- you don’t need to pay a lawyer”.
And many other statements where the insurance adjuster clearly was attempting to convince the injury victim that an attorney representing the victim was not in the victim’s best interest. It is noteworthy that this mainly occurs in the most complex of cases and the cases where the likelihood of significant and ongoing medical expenses or large damages is a certainty.
The unsuspecting personal injury victim who falls for this game can be irreparably harmed and end up letting the insurance carrier off for literally pennies on the dollar.
Worse, is that often personal injury victims do not understand the consequences of settling with the negligent party’s insurance carrier – such as the impact on their workers compensation claim, paybacks they must make to their health insurance or other entity paying their medical bills.
The plain truth of the matter is that insurance companies particularly those who ensure the adverse party are not in the business of being fair but are in the business of maximizing profits. If an insurance company can pay pennies on the dollar and obtain a release from an unsuspecting victim they will do so in a heartbeat.
Insurance adjusters are not going to be paid bonuses for settling a case for a fair amount particularly when it is a very serious injury. One common saying is “the big buildings in Las Vegas were not built by people who won money in Las Vegas” also applies to insurance companies. Huge insurance companies were not built by voluntarily paying reasonable value on claims without being forced to pay.
On serious cases, the insurance carrier does not want the victim to hire an attorney particularly a highly rated personal injury attorney because they wish to save significant money on the claim. There is no a regard for what the smaller does to the injury victim no matter what the adjuster may promise.
On a very serious injury case, the company may well be forced to play 10 times or more what they were offering the victim. The company does not want you to get an attorney for the insurance companies benefit not yours!
Interestingly enough, the exact opposite is true on the smallest of personal injury claims. If the case is very small or even considered, a nuisance type claim by the carrier, the adjuster will often tell the person that they need to hire an attorney.
Now why would the insurance company discourage hiring an attorney when the injury is really serious and actually suggest getting an attorney for a little bitty claim or one where there is little or no real exposure for the company?
THE MORE SERIOUS THE INJURY THE MORE YOU NEED A SKILLED ATTORNEY
The general rule of thumb is that the more serious the injury the more likely that a personal injury victim will need an attorney. In 30 years of handling personal injury claims, I’ve yet to see a reasonable or fair settlement on a truly serious injury made without the benefit of an experienced and successful personal injury attorney.
Prospective clients should consider that the number that counts for them is the number that they put in their pocket after all expenses and medical pay back has been accounted for. It is critical that the consequences of settlement be clearly understood, as some settlements seem to be a golden goose and only turn out to be a nightmare because the victim chose not to hire an attorney.
It is important for a personal injury victim to research the attorney they are considering selecting to ensure that they are experienced, have a track record of success and have handled similar type cases in the past with impressive results.