You did the smart thing and hired a lawyer. The lawyer was available to talk at all times in person, via email, and on the phone. The lawyer’s staff was friendly, knew who you were when you called, organized, and got your case ready for presentation to the insurance company. Everything was going smoothly until your lawyer faced negotiations and at some point called you with the so called final offer being made by the insurance company. Now what do you do? You feel like the whole process has let you down and you ask yourself why you hired a lawyer. Anger and frustration are instant responses to the offer which is the hope of an insurance company to prevent people from hiring lawyers while allowing them to settle future claims made by others for a lot less.
Take a deep breath and ask yourself what is the next step.
Do you settle or do you litigate because your neighbor was in an accident 10 years ago, they had no damage to their car, and Allstate begged them to take their insureds limits without a lawsuit being filed. Before you start analyzing what to do, don’t rely on what your neighbor says or what non lawyers tell you will happen in court and what you should get for the injuries you received. You chose your lawyer wisely so rely on that lawyer to guide you as there should be options. If you see no options, you likely have the wrong lawyer. No person, except in rare cases involving significant injuries, lots of insurance coverage, or punitive damages, wants to litigate. Ask anyone who has been through it. It’s not fun and not guaranteed to get you a better result. If your lawyer is good, they have experience trying all sorts of personal injury cases with varying issues, but if the lawyer brags to you about results or pushes litigation on you without a full and frank discussion of the issues, you have to ask if your lawyer is looking out for you. Does that mean you settle and let the insurance company pay what they want to pay? Not necessarily.
After your lawyer discusses the insurance companies offer with you(and as bad as you may think it is, it is likely a higher offer than they would have made if you didn’t have a lawyer so you are already frustrating the insurance company) and you are upset as there seems to be no money for your pain and your suffering, take a deep breath, and ask your lawyer what do we do now. A good lawyer will have options. Will the lawyer reduce his fee to get the case settled? Will the lawyer discuss reductions with health care providers or lien holders? Will the lawyer work with you to see if the offer can be accepted and get everyone paid including the lawyer and leave you with an amount in your pocket where you feel like everyone benefitted from the settlement but you? Analyze these things while discussing your expectations with your lawyer knowing that no matter what amount you get, it isn’t worth what you have gone through. In 20 plus years as a lawyer and handing out some significant checks to people, I have yet to want to trade places with any client who has been injured in an accident.
Ultimately the decision to settle or litigate is about risk assessment. Some cases cannot be settled and you must litigate no matter what creative reductions can be obtained. Some cases you or your lawyer want to litigate but you go forward without anticipating what the other side will argue when you get to the jury. See both sides and how that may factor in to a potential result. You may be injured and you may not have caused the accident, but that does not mean the other side won’t have some tricks up their sleeve to devalue your case at trial. Your lawyer will discuss these things with you and while any offer that is being rejected is risky, if your lawyer encourages you to litigate or settle listen to your lawyer. That is why you hired that lawyer. Without trust and belief that a lawyer is more than just about their fee, you are with the wrong lawyer. If the lawyer explains your cases situation to you correctly and honestly, you will understand risk assessment and why sometimes a settlement makes sense without feeling like your lawyer is afraid to take your case to court. If you have the right lawyer, all explanations will make you feel that your lawyer has your best interests at heart.
Do you feel like the insurance company is lowballing you? Do you need a lawyer to handle your case who will explain all your options in detail without forcing a settlement on you so the lawyer can get his or her fee often leaving bills unpaid and you confused? A good lawyer will create options for you and get your case settled whenever possible yet will stand strong in court for you when needed. Call Tanner and Romary and let us explain how our creativity, flexibility, and litigation experience can be put to work for you to get your case resolved while also minimizing your risk.