The obvious reason why many Florida drivers, particularly those in the South Florida Metropolitan areas of Miami-Dade, Broward & Palm Beach Counties, try to handle their car accident and injury case on their own and not hire a lawyer is that they incorrectly believe that this will save them money. Why should I hire an attorney and have to pay them a percentage of my recovery when I can do it on my own and keep everything? This is really the only reason a person would contemplate handling their own car accident injury auto accident case. If the services of an attorney were completely free, there would certainly be no question as to whether you are better off with an attorney representing you against the big insurance companies. Of course, attorneys do need to be paid for their work. So the real question to ask becomes, “Is my case worth more if I have an attorney on my side” The answer to the question is a resounded yes and the insurance companies own statistics support this and it’s not even close.
In this author’s opinion, the main reasons as to why your recovery will likely be significantly less for your Florida car accident or injury case if you handle your case on your own are as follows;
- When dealing with the insurance company adjuster, if you are not a lawyer, you do not have the believable threat of filing a lawsuit.
- A non-lawyer is not likely to know how to properly value a case.
- You may say or do the wrong thing and severely hurt your case.
- You may be unfamiliar with the insurance coverages and limitations.
- An Attorney can negotiate with your medical providers to get significant reductions in your medical bills in order to insure that you take home the most money possible from your settlement or lawsuit.
- You might give the insurance company a recorded or written statement that might not be in your best interest.
Part 1 of this article will address reasons 1, 2 & 3. The remaining issues will be addressed in the continuation of this article to be posted next week,
1. When dealing with the insurance company adjuster, if you are not a lawyer, you do not have the believable threat of filing a lawsuit.
Yes, anyone can file a lawsuit, but if it is not done by an attorney, it is not likely to be taken seriously by the insurance company and also it is likely that a non-lawyer will not file said lawsuit correctly, subjecting it to dismissal or failure down the road. The insurance companies do not want to spend the money defending a lawsuit that could be avoided with a reasonable settlement. The threat of a lawsuit is the greatest asset in convincing the insurance company to pony up and pay out a fair settlement. If they know that you will not or cannot file a suit, the money that they offer and counteroffer will be significantly less.
2. A non-lawyer is not likely to know how to properly value a case.
The adjuster at the insurance company’s goal is to pay as little as possible for your claim. This is his or her job and they are trained to use tactics in order to accomplish this goal. Thus, they almost never give you a fair number as their initial offer. If you are not experienced in handling these type of cases, you will not know what offers are fair and what are unfair/undervalued. Car Accident and Personal Injury Attorneys such as the ones at the Fort Lauderdale Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis LLC know how to value your case and assign a fair settlement range based on their experience and handling these types of cases day in and day out and also constantly monitoring legal publications such as verdict reports.
3. You may say or do the wrong thing and severely hurt your case
There are many laws, court rules, and procedures for dealing with car accident and injury cases. As a non-lawyer, you are unlikely to be familiar with these and one simple slip up can cost you the entire case and prohibit you from receiving the compensation that you deserve. Examples of this are the Statute of Limitations to file a claim, the Florida Rules of Evidence and the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
End of Part 1 of 2.
Part 2 of this article will address the remaining reasons why you should not try to handle your car accident or injury case on your own.