Sunday, October 21, 2012

Do I need an attorney to settle my personal injury case?

A natural follow up to my recent entry about what happens when a personal injury case concludes, is the question of whether a person actually needs an attorney to settle a personal injury case.  The short answer to this question is "no," you do not "need" an attorney to settle your personal injury case.  As soon as you are injured in an accident that is someone else's fault, the insurance company for the person at fault will be calling you, and writing to you on a regular basis in order to settle your claim.  All you have to do is sign everything that the insurance company wants you to sign, and your case will be over. Unfortunately, what you will also be doing is placing your fate entirely in the hands of an insurance company, and you should know that your interests, and the interests of the insurance company, could not be more different. 

What does an insurance company think about when a car accident happens?  Really, only one thing, its exposure.  The insurance company's insured has done some act, in the case of a car accident, its driver may have driven too fast, failed to yield the right of way, or may have done some other kind of negligent driving.  In other kinds of cases, take an injury at a construction site, a general contractor may have failed to provide a safe job site.  No matter what the mechanism is for creating the exposure, exposure is the lens through which the insurance company will analyze your case.  What does exposure mean?  One common way to understand the term exposure is the measure of vulnerability to a loss.  In a car accident case, the insurance company's exposure is the value of your injuries, medical treatment and other damages.  Now, you might be thinking, isn't the reason that the law requires that we all have insurance, so that when I get hurt in an accident, there is a way for me to be compensated?  Whatever the right answer is to this question, the insurance company's answer to that question is, "no."  Take Allstate.  Allstate is the largest publicly traded home and auto insurer.  In an article from July 31, 2012, The Wall Street Journal reports that Allstate "spent 86.3 cents on claims and expenses for every dollar it collected in premiums across its property-casualty segment."  The goal of Allstate, and every other insurance company, is to drive down that 86.3 cent figure as low as possible, in order to maximize profits. 

How do insurance companies reduce their exposure?  Anderson Cooper reports, "its the three Ds: delay, deny and defend."  I will discuss these insurance company tactics in later entries, but for now, you should understand that that reducing exposure is bad for you, and good for the massive corporate bureaucracy.  The list of things that a good personal injury attorney can do for you at least includes: (a) conducting a thorough investigation of your case; (b) finding and preserving all of the important evidence for proving your case; (c) helping you understand the real value of your case; (d) knowing, understanding and applying the law to your advantage; and (e) everything else that falls under the big umbrella of proving your case in court.  The bottom line for you in answering the question of whether you need an attorney to settle your personal injury case, is that what you really should be asking is whether you need a good, personal injury attorney to get a fair deal. The answer to that, better question is an emphatic yes, you need a good, personal injury attorney to be treated fairly, and to obtain fair compensation for your injuries.  


  1. Dean, this is a very accessible and well written clarification on a highly misunderstood practice. Thank you.

  2. Hello there! I am glad to stop by your site and know more about personal injury attorney. Keep it up! This is a good read. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about personal injury attorney in your area.
    As with other types of lawyers, personal injury lawyers may choose to start a solo practice or join a small, mid-size, or large law firm as an associate. Personal injury lawyers may also be partners (owners) of a law firm or strive to be a partner.
    Write down exactly how the accident occurred, your injuries and any other losses you’ve suffered as a result of the injury.

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  4. It's important, therefore, to understand, how personal injury cases are settled; this article ... Typically, plaintiff's lawyer will write a formal settlement demand to the ... that they and an experienced plaintiff's attorney, do not need a mediator's help.

  5. It is better to talk to a personal injury lawyer for advice on the proceeding. There are times when the insurance company tricks the victim, so a lawyer should be consulted. Charles, Delray Beach Personal Injury Lawyer