If you are injured in a car wreck, a slip and fall, a dog bite, or suffer some other personal injury, it is always wise to consult with an attorney before settling with an insurance company. Indeed, even if you are in a car wreck with only property damage, you should talk with an attorney before settling with an insurance company. Most personal injury attorneys who represent injured people (plaintiffs) do not charge a consultation fee, so talking with a lawyer early is worth the time and effort.
Insurance companies want to settle claims for as little as possible, and the amount they offer initially is generally much less than true worth or value of the claim. Insurance adjusters know that most people do not know the value of their claim and will try to settle a claim early before someone hires a lawyer. Once the claim is settled, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to reopen it to get more money. Experienced personal injury attorneys should be able to advise their clients about the best way to present a claim to maximize the amount obtained from the insurance company.
Call a lawyer as soon as you are injured or your property is damaged. Not only do most personal injury attorneys usually not charge a consultation fee, meaning you get some free advice, but they also generally work on a contingency fee, meaning that you do not pay the lawyer any money unless they get money for you. In other words, you have little to lose consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer because the initial meeting is likely free and you do not have to pay the lawyer hourly or pay a retainer.
You may have a lot to lose if you settle the claim too early. Many times I have had clients, or potential clients, call me because they settled their claim without an attorney thinking they were getting a good deal only to later learn that they need an expensive surgery or treatment. Once the claim has been settled, there is little chance that the claim can be reopened to pay for the surgery meaning that the injured person has to either continue to suffer or pay for a surgery out of their own pocket. When a situation like that occurs, an insurance company has gotten off the hook too easily. Experienced personal injury attorneys know not to rush a claim until appropriate medical care and opinions have been obtained.
So, how do you know when to talk to or hire an attorney? When you are injured or your property is damaged and you need to recover money from someone to pay for the injury or damage, you should always consult with a lawyer first. You may decide not to hire the lawyer, but take advantage of the free advice!
Following graduation from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Eric Stevenson held a number of positions including Assistant State Attorney in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida. Eric has been practicing with partner Christopher Klotz since 2015 litigating personal injury and car accidents in Alabama and Florida.