Friday, October 12, 2012

Why trying to handle a car accident case by yourself is not a good idea

It seems like more people are trying to handle car accident cases on their own because they think that they can get the same result that a lawyer can. Well this is a big mistake for several reasons.
The first reason is that many people severely underestimate how much is actually involved when negotiating a settlement with an insurance company stemming from a car accident. When you negotiate one of these cases with an insurance adjustor you need to be able to present your case properly, and with the constant threat that you will bring a credible lawsuit if a decent settlement is not reached. Without an attorney an insurance adjustor may offer you something out of the fear that you will come back with an attorney and be able to present a credible case. However, the insurance company will offer you a much lower settlement amount than if you had an attorney. I have spoken to people who have taken what the insurance companies have offered in these kinds of situations when they did not get an attorney, and the amount offered by the insurance company is a mere fraction of what they would have been able to get if they had an attorney represent them. The ironic thing is that people actually think they are saving money by not getting an attorney, and giving up a percentage of their settlement to an attorney. What they don't realize is that they would actually end up with more money in their own pocket if they hired an attorney because the much higher settlement, or award if a lawsuit is filed, that an attorney would be able to get in the end will net the person significantly more money even after the attorney's fees are taken out of the settlement.
This is true considering that most attorney's take a 1/3 contingency fee for a car accident case. However, this is especially true when a client comes to us because we will only take a 25% fee for a car accident case where the police report states that the other driver is fault. This 25% does not go up if we file a lawsuit either.
Overall, when an insurance company deals with someone without an attorney they know that they will have to pay much less than if the person has an attorney or even nothing at all. They also know that the person will be stuck with whatever they offer because if that person ever tried to file a lawsuit on their own, the insurance company knows that they will almost certainly lose. Filing a lawsuit, any lawsuit, is a complex process that a non-attorney should never try on their own. When a lawsuit is filed there are so many procedures and rules that have to be followed correctly that someone without the proper legal training would not be able to follow these properly and have the lawsuit dismissed on technical grounds.I suspect that some people watch t.v. and think that the court cases they see on t.v. where witnesses are presented at the day of trial, and everything is slapped together at the last minute are an accurate representation of how real lawsuits are handled. Well nothing can be further from the truth. Most of an attorney's time when litigating a case is just preparing the case, and gathering and presenting evidence properly. For each hour an attorney will spend in a Court arguing a case, at least several more hours are spent preparing the case properly. All the while all the rules and proper procedures must be followed strictly. Someone who thinks that they can just stand up before a judge or arbitrator, and make a pretty speech and win a case will be in for a quite a shock.
On the other hand if a person has an attorney and the insurance company is not offering a fair settlement then the attorney can just file a lawsuit, and often times get much more money in the end than what was offered by the insurance company. For someone without an attorney this is almost certain to not be the case. Therefore, there is really no good reason not to get an attorney, and getting an attorney will almost certainly get you more money in the end. This is especially true if someone comes to our law firm, The law firm of Reed & Mansfield, with our 25% contingency fee for auto accident cases where the other driver is found to be at fault.

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