I am commonly asked by potential clients, “Do I really NEED to a hire an accident attorney after a car accident or can I negotiate with the insurance company on my own?”
Does anyone really NEED to hire any professional for a job, outside of maybe a surgeon? You do not NEED an accountant to do your taxes. You do not NEED a real estate agent to sell your home. You do NEED a plumber to fix a broken pipe.
You CHOOSE to hire professionals when the BENEFIT outweighs the COST.
In the case of accident attorneys, is our contingency fee of 33.3% (pre-suit) and 40% (litigation) a worthwhile cost?
The million dollar question…
Does the benefit of hiring an accident attorney outweigh the cost of the contingency fee.
Almost always, yes.
Here are the top 10 benefits of hiring an accident attorney
- We know the “rules of the game” and how to “beat the game”
- Familiar with insurance limits and with the particular insurance companies involved in your case (and what they typically pay)
- Familiar with value of similar cases
- Familiar with Plaintiff-friendly vs. Defense-friendly doctors
- Familiar with the medical terminology and billing process
- Ability to negotiate bills
- Familiar with which medical providers are willing to waive balances and which demand every penny
- Familiar with how to increase value in your case
- We bear all the risk – we only get paid if we collect
- THE ABILITY TO FILE SUIT
Example: Fight Outside a Bar
Imagine, for example, that you were about to get into a fight outside a bar.
You’re 6’5, 275 lbs. You played football for the Miami Dolphins. You have a black belt in karate. You are not told your opponent’s height, weight, age or gender. All things being equal, odds are that you would have a very good chance of prevailing in a fight.
Assuming the odds weren’t stacked against you, however
You soon find out that your opponent is not one man, but five men. The men are armed with body armor and knives. They know everything about you (including that you had surgery on your left knee in college). They immediately exploit your weakness.
The fact that you are of ideal proportions means nothing against five armed men standing in front of you. You would have been wise to hire a body guard.
Example: Car Accident
Now imagine that you just got into a car accident. You are a successful real estate with a Master’s degree from Yale. You negotiate million dollar deals for a living.
You are not told of your opponent’s background, business acumen or age. All things being equal, odds are that you would crush your opponent in a negotiation.
Again, assuming the odds weren’t stacked against you.
You soon find out that your opponent is not one person, but many people with access to a super computer. Your opponent is armed with years of legal experience handling but nothing but car accident cases for the likes of Allstate, State Farm, Progressive and GEICO. Your opponent does not play fair and will do anything and everything to minimize the payout to your disadvantage.
Unlike you, your opponent is familiar with terms such as PIP logs, MMI, spinal stenosis, retrolisthesis, osteophytes, RSD, 3.0 Tesla MRI, NCV/EMG, ESI, and RF ablations.
They also have access to ALL your medical records. If you went to a chiropractor in 1972, then know about it.
Finally, their supercomputer tells them what every similar case has resolved for since the beginning of time by a million different variables (i.e. age, jurisdiction, injuries reported, MRI findings, past medical records, pre-existing conditions, whether the client is represented, etc.). Many insurance companies use a program called “Colossus” which spits out a “fair offer” based on a million different variables.
The insurance company uses all this information to their advantage to convince you to accept minimal settlements.
How does the accident attorney add value over an unpresented client?
Typically insurance companies offer unrepresented clients only their out-of-pocket medical expenses. They also bully unrepresented clients to resolve cases very early in the process (sometimes as early as a few weeks), before you have fully determined the severity of your injuries. The insurance adjuster does not give you any financial consideration for future medical bills or pain and suffering (i.e. non-economic damages). The pain and suffering component oftentimes exceeds the medical bills by many multiples.
For example, I recently received a phone call from a client representing himself. He wanted to accept the insurance company’s offer of $5,500.00 to resolve his claim. After review, I advised him against accepting an offer as his claim was worth substantially more. Now, almost two years later, my client is still in pain. I just wrote a demand requesting $550,000.00 to resolve this case. My offer is 10,000% higher than what my client was willing to accept for his claim. He completely undervalued his pain and suffering and cost of future treatment.
The ability to file suit
The ability to file suit is the MOST important reason to hire an accident attorney. Insurance companies are only scared of one thing – accounting for risk. An attorney can file suit; a non-attorney can technically file suit, but wouldn’t (i.e. a non-doctor performing surgery on himself).
A lawsuit is a risky proposition as a jury could come back with a very low or very high verdict. We have seen cases where an insurance company makes a pre-suit offer of $15,000.00 where the case eventually settles for $100,000.00 or goes to trial and hits a verdict of $1,000.000.00
Without the ability to file suit, the insurance company has no incentive to make you a fair settlement offer is their risk is minimized.
If you are involved in a car accident, the personal injury attorneys at Lyons, Snyder & Collin offer free consultation. We will go over the pros/cons of retaining our firm and answer any questions you have about the process.