This is a comment that a car accident lawyer had written in response to a post made online by a man who settled his own personal injury case. We wonder if the man thought he was so fabulous after seeing this reply. Ouch!
“I just thought I’d let you know that I didn’t hire a lawyer for my 17-year-old son’s injury case, and settled my own case for Half a Million Dollars. A drunk who was driving a moving van hit him, rendering him a paraplegic. The drunk even got convicted of a felony DUI for this.
I submitted the $100,000 in medical bills to the adjuster with a demand for a million and settled my own case for $500,000. So sorry you lawyers didn’t get your hooks into his money!”
So sorry that your bias against attorneys cost your son so much. It’s too late for you, but I’ll list ten reasons why this was a BIG mistake so that other people might make a better choice.
Why I Settled My Own Case Without The Need Of An Attorney?
I realized the top benefits of settling my own case without the help of a lawyer and I think you should also take a step forward for this when you come across a similar situation like mine.
- Average jury verdicts for this type of case are much higher than that.
- Did you know before settling this case that your HMO or health insurer had a legal lien against your son’s settlement? How much did you have to pay the health insurer or HMO to reimburse them for the medical bills they paid? Probably the full $100,000. A skilled attorney could probably have structured it so they got less or even nothing.
- A serious case like this is almost always assigned to a more senior insurance claims adjuster. What are the odds that the drunk’s claims adjuster hasn’t picked up any skill or tricks in 30 years of protecting his employer’s purse? How did your experience compare?
- Based on your last sentence, I would assume that you also shared your feelings about attorneys with the drunk’s insurance adjuster. This would have been music to his ears. No doubt he agreed and even told you that you didn’t need a lawyer, but what he likely wrote down in your file was “Will never hire a lawyer.” Perhaps you thought that conversation created some “bond” with the adjuster that would benefit you. Consider this: did he probably discourage hiring an attorney to benefit you or the company that pays his salary and promotes him?
- I guess that you picked $1,000,000 as your first demand because this was the policy limit. An experienced attorney would have gotten the firm’s balance sheet and made demands against their assets as well as their insurance since the driver was most likely on the job and the company is responsible for his negligence over and above the insurance limits.
- The insurance adjuster likely threw some claimed “exclusion” from insurance coverage at you, claiming that probably no insurance is applicable for your accident. He may even have mailed you a clipped excerpt from the policy taken out of context to back it up. An experienced attorney might have laughed at this, but a layman would probably lower his demand in the belief that if they pressed this “exclusion”, you’d get nothing. Common ploy.
- It’s unlikely you saved any money by not paying attorney fees. If an attorney would have gotten over a million for this claim, even with a 33 1/3 contingency fee, you’d have netted roughly $666,000 instead of the $400,000 you probably got after medical liens.
- You only mentioned sending the adjuster the medical bills. You probably did not hire an economist to protect your son’s income losses through the age of retirement, nor a medical expert to estimate the future cost of medical care, nor the cost of special equipment for the rest of his life, nor a psychiatrist to write a report on the emotional impact. This can be expensive, but some or all of this may be well worth the investment. Most people who have suffered a tragedy like this do not have tens of thousands to spend on such claim development. An attorney advances these expenses as part of the service for which he earns his fee. No doubt the adjuster pointed out the uncertainty of your son’s future losses to bargain you down, but I’ll wager he did NOT suggest how to remedy this defect.
- The adjuster’s job is not to cradle you in his “good hands”. His job is to dispose of your claim for as little money as possible.
- I’ll bet you didn’t know that by law, you were entitled to collect all your attorney fees from the drunk to pay for the cost of suing him. For this reason, you probably gained nothing by not hiring an attorney.
These ten points are the tip of the iceberg. There is virtually no death or very serious injury case that should be handled without an experienced attorney’s help. Therefore, this is all about my experience about how I settled my own case and I hope you have got my point!