Often I am asked by people calling from the Chicago, Illinois area if they really need a personal injury lawyer when involved in an auto accident, slip & fall, work injury or any other type of personal injury case. The short answer is YES, you definitely want an accident attorney on your side!
I actually tell people that if they want my injury law firm’s help, that’s great. But if they are not comfortable with me, get different injury attorney. Don’t try to go it alone.
I tell potential clients to do this for many reasons. First, you don’t want to damage your own personal injury claim. From day one there can be obstacles to overcome in an injury case. Within hours after an accident you may find yourself speaking to the other person’s insurance carrier. Injured people often don’t realize that the goal of the other side’s insurance company is to mitigate damages, meaning they want to pay you as little money as possible. One of the first things they might ask you for is a recorded statement that can eventually be used against you in settlement negotiations.
The earlier in the case you have a personal injury attorney protecting your rights, the better off you will be. An injury lawyer has the same goal that you do. They want to put as much money in your pocket as possible. Personal injury lawyers take a percentage of whatever money they collect for you. That means the more money they collect for you, the more money they make for themselves. They have a built in incentive to collect as much money as possible for you.
Here is another problem when you do not have an injury lawyer on your side. What happens when it is time to settle your case? You have no idea what your case is worth. For example, you could get an offer from an insurance company for $5,000, but the case could be worth $50,000. It is not your fault you don’t know case value, but it is a risk you take without legal protection.
Next, what happens after you get that $5,000 offer, you think it may be low, and then you sign up with a lawyer. Well, one problem I have seen in the past is you may have a stubborn insurance adjuster who knows the case is worth more money, but they take the position that they offered $5,000 and they are not going to pay more just because someone goes out and gets a lawyer.
You may be wondering why insurance companies may offer less money to non-lawyers. In my opinion, to the insurance companies, it’s just business. First, often an injured person is going to accept that initial $5,000 offer not knowing what the case is really worth. Someone accepting a low offer saves the insurance carrier a lot of money. Second, you don’t have a lawyer on your side so they have no reason to worry about you taking them to Court.
Here is a good example. Earlier this year my law firm represented a woman who was a pedestrian hit by a car. A major insurance carrier offered her nothing, nada, zippo, zero before she she signed up with us. Several months later we settled the case for $95,000. This law firm currently represents several people who initially received $0.00 dollar settlement offers or very low offers to settle.