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 doing so. 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.