If I have an offer from an insurance company, why would I need a lawyer?
When you are dealing with an insurance company after suffering an injury, the insurer is only interested in minimizing costs and managing risk. An insurance company will do everything to resolve a claim before going to court. They will want to settle quickly and easily, releasing the other party from any further liability.
The insurer will most likely contact you immediately after an accident, when you are feeling overwhelmed about your situation and you have an injury, steep medical bills, and lost income from missing work. In this situation, you may be tempted to take the money they offer you to get immediate relief. However, this settlement award may be for much less than what your claim is worth. Insurance companies know that injury victims are desperate, and take advantage of this vulnerability in order to pay far less than they deserve.
One major way insurance companies attempt to minimize settlements is by undervaluing medical expenses. Your settlement should reflect the full amount of your medical expenses, including future expenses. It should cover ambulance rides, emergency room visits, doctor appointments, surgeries, medications, therapy, medical devices, modifications to your home, and more. If your injury will affect you for the rest of your life, the settlement should include compensation for your future medical expenses. Many insurance companies only include compensation for bills you have already incurred in their initial settlement offer. If they do include compensation for future expenses, they will often far undervalue future costs.
Having a lawyer on your side can protect you against both of these scenarios. Your lawyer can investigate your accident, examine your medical records, and consult with experts to come to an accurate estimate of your medical costs, both past and future. Lawyers who have handled personal injury claims in the past know how to estimate future costs, something you are unlikely to know how to do. From there, they will be able to evaluate any settlement offer that an insurance company makes in order to determine if it is acceptable.
An experienced lawyer will also be able to negotiate with insurance agents and opposing lawyers on your behalf if they refuse to make an appropriate offer. They can gather the necessary evidence to refute any claims the opposition makes. By handling communications on your behalf, they can ensure that you don’t say anything to damage your claim. They can also prepare your claim for trial. Though most civil claims never make it to court, it is important that you are prepared for trial in case the insurance company refuses to offer an appropriate settlement. Going to trial may be the only way to recover the full amount of compensation you need and deserve.