I often have clients that come in after trying to resolve their claim by themselves first. Usually they start to get overwhelmed and finally realize they need some help. While I’m glad they finally realize they need some help, there are some real dangers about not getting an attorney early on.
The thing I hear the most is “well, they were really nice to me at first.” “They” being the at fault drivers insurance company. I literally hear this every single time. Let me tell you an absolute truth. The at fault insurance’s only concern and only job is to pay you as little money as they possibly can. That is the 100% ultimate goal. You are not a person. You are a race, sex, age, county residence + injuries = the littlest number they can pay you to make you disappear.
So of course they are nice to you at the beginning. They are trying to sell you some magic beans and hope you take that, sign away your claim and believe that they will be looking out for your best interest. They are nice to you because they want you to trust them. And once you trust them they can scare you into a bad decision with half-truths.
Even if you don’t trust them, by waiting you are in serious danger of significantly hurting or even killing your claim. Here’s some of the reasons why:
You do not know what insurance may be available. Yes, you may know of the one policy but you may not know that there is a policy that can be stacked. You may not know that somebody else in the household has a policy that can be used. There may be company insurance that is available. The list goes on and on. And I can assure you the at fault insurance company isn’t going to do research to find you more money to go after. So if you have 100k in medical bills and the only insurance you know of has a 25k policy you are just stuck.
Timed notices. There are some policies that may be available, like underinsured motorist coverage, that have to be given notice within a specific amount of time. Yes, the statute of limitations may be two or three years but if notice wasn’t given you may have released coverages after 6 months or so.
You may say things against your interest. This one people always think they won’t do. But it happens time and time again. Let’s say you are two weeks out of your accident. The at fault driver’s insurance company calls and very kindly asks how you are doing? Nobody likes to be a whiner so you say, “I’m still sore and hurting some but it’s getting better.” Another month goes by and things aren’t progressing for you. You are still hurting and it turns out you need knee surgery. Once you tell the “nice” folks at the at fault insurance company their response is “Well, this isn’t going to be from this accident. We talked to you a month ago and you said you were doing a lot better. I have that recording if you’d like to hear it. We believe this knee injury was either a pre-existing condition or something that happened after we talked to you last. We don’t believe it was caused by this accident.”
These are just a few pitfalls that can truly hurt you and your family after an accident. Remember it costs nothing to talk to a trial attorney. At the very least you will get some good advice and can make a much more informed decision.