Do I Really Need a Lawyer to Settle My Insurance Claim?
This has to be one of the most common questions asked when someone is injured in an accident.
We have all seen thousands of commercials claiming “Like a Good Neighbor”, “Good Hands”, “State Farm is There”, Nationwide “is on your side”. The insurance companies spend millions of dollars promoting the concept that they are “fast, fair and friendly” because the opposite is true. Insurance companies make money by waiting as long as they possibly can before paying a claim. The longer it takes, the better they like it.
If you try to settle your claim yourself, they will ask for unfettered access to your medical records, copies of your bills, a recorded statement, proof that their insured was responsible for the accident, and anything else they can think of. They will string out the process of getting these things, so each time you think they have everything they can ask for, they will come up with something else. In between, they will often fail to return calls, take days or weeks to get back to you, and generally keep things going for far longer than you ever thought possible. Of course, they are all trained in ways to make you think they are actually working on putting together a fair offer.
I have 40 years of experience, and what I see is that insurance companies wait as long as they can and they pick apart every little thing looking for an excuse to pay less. Some companies regularly suggest going to an expensive mediation, where we provide all of the medical records, bills, expensive doctor’s reports, expert accident reconstruction reports, police reports, photographs and witness statements, only to get either no offer at all, or such a minuscule offer that it is not worth responding to.
Trial dates get settlements. Routinely, the insurance companies wait until they have no option but to pay or go to trial. Suddenly, they are on it. The exceptions are situations, such as a really small policy limit and a really large claim, where they are getting out for pennies on the dollar.
If this is my experience with insurance companies, what makes you think you can manage this for yourself? All you will do is delay the claim even more, by waiting to call a lawyer. In the meantime, you may be making mistakes that will damage your claim, such as failing to take steps that should be taken early in the process.
Sadly, the insurance companies have lawyers to fight your claims. You need a lawyer to get your claim paid.
Not incidentally, even after fees, you will most likely net significantly more money and your lawyer will take care of your claim, so you don’t have to.