After an accident, insurance companies often offer you a settlement. It
is a lump sum, and if you accept it, you probably can’t receive
any more benefits from them.
These settlements are, essentially, a trick. The amount seems large, and
taking it is tempting. However, you have no way of knowing how much money
you will ultimately need, especially if you are injured. Insurance companies
are most concerned about their bottom line. Their entire business model
is built on taking in as much money as they can and paying out the smallest
amount they’re allowed.
They really want you to take that settlement, and they’ll use any
means to make that happen, up to misleading you. The last thing they want
is for you to get a lawyer, so they tell you half-truths to keep you from
Here are some common things an insurance company may tell you to trick
you out of hiring a lawyer.
“You Will Lose Half Your Compensation on Legal Fees”
This is a common claim. It isn’t specific to insurance companies.
Legal fees can get expensive, but don’t take the “half your
damages” idea as gospel. It’s meant as a general guideline.
There are caps on how much an attorney can make in a personal injury lawsuit.
In most cases, lawyers cannot take more than 33% of your overall reward.
Even that percent is not a standard expectation. You and your attorney
will negotiate your fees before you ever begin the trial. Depending on
your relationship with them, you can agree to much lower terms than 33%.
“Personal Injury Suits Are Too Complicated”
Stop and think about this claim for a second. How is a lawsuit complicated
for you? You’ve hired a lawyer, and their job is to take the work
off your hands. They do the investigating; they interview the witnesses;
they go over police records and security footage; they inspect damage
at the scene of the crash. What about this process, exactly, is too complicated
for you? At most, you’ll be asked to answer some questions, help
collect documentation, attend some meetings, and appear in court.
Remember, your insurance company is trying to avoid court. What they’re
really saying is that a lawsuit is too complicated for them, and that
simply means they don’t want to spend money. Regardless of the outcome
of the case, they’ll spend money on lawyers, legal fees, and so on.
“It’s Easier to Handle the Matter Yourself”
At some point, most of us will have a fender-bender, and we must deal with
insurance companies. These matters can be easy to handle. You call your
insurance company, tell them your story, and receive money for repairs.
Some companies even have partnerships with dealers. You can simply take
your car in, and they handle everything. They give you a rental and make
the repairs, and you don’t need to worry about anything.
The insurance company is banking on your having these experiences. They
want you to believe that handling an injury will go just as smoothly and
easily. The problem is this: No one can estimate how expensive your injury will be.
Some injuries take a long time to treat. Treatment itself can include surgeries,
multiple doctor visits, therapy, and a slew of medicines. A permanent
injury requires a lifetime of treatment. Sometimes, your injury changes
the way you move, which can lead to other injuries. Even minor injuries
can have a lasting impact. Imagine an artist who, after a car accident,
develops blurred vision. Think of a dancer who loses a toe. For these
people, injuries change their careers, potentially forcing them to live
an entirely different life.
The insurance company does not want the bill for this treatment. It wants
to give you money, hush you, and move on.
Talk to a Lawyer Before You Sign
Whenever you are presented with a settlement, take it to an attorney. They
can overlook the deal, finding any tricks that limit your benefits. Attorneys
can push back and negotiate for a better settlement. If necessary, they
can help you take the matter to court, getting you a substantially better
piece of compensation for your injuries.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, contact our office before
taking an insurance settlement. Our number is (817) 591-4222. You can
also use our convenient
online contact form.