One of the scariest moments a person can experience is a motor vehicle accident. Any collision where you lose complete control of your vehicle is a scary and helpless feeling. Minor accidents are scary enough but when a car crash involves high rates of speeds, the sound of screeching tires and metal crunching, the results can be catastrophic. Vehicle accidents cause hundreds of thousands of injuries each year and thousands of deaths. Often times the injured party is hurt through no fault of their own. A distracted driver, dangerous road conditions, pot holes…there are many reasons that accidents occur. If another party was responsible for the accident, even partially, often times the law allows you to collect financial compensation (money) for the harm caused to you.
Insurance Companies – Good guys or bad guys?
Many people ask themselves “What should I do after I’ve been in an accident?” It seems simple enough right? You get medical care if the accident caused you harm, you call your insurance company and they take care of all the expenses. After all, that’s what insurance is for right? Unfortunately it’s rarely that simple. Insurance companies (including your own) are focused on minimizing the amount of money they pay out for your accident. In many cases, the insurance companies take advantage of people by paying them a settlement that is far less than what the person actually deserves. On many occasions insurance companies don’t pay for all everything that stems from the accident, such as:
- Cost of vehicle repairs
- Cost of rental vehicles
- Lost time away from work
- Medical bills past, present and future
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
At the end of the day, insurance companies are focused on their shareholders. It is not in their best interest to pay you what you deserve and that is why if the accident is anything other than minor, you should consult with an attorney. Many people don’t consider hiring a lawyer because they don’t want to pay for their help. This is a bad way of thinking and often costs people dearly. And yes, it’s exactly what the insurance company wants you to do! They would much rather deal with the everyday person than an attorney who is trained to negotiate maximum settlements for their clients. There are many instances where people were offered not even a single penny or a tiny amount to settle their claim until they hired an attorney.
Let’s pretend “Jennifer” is involved in an accident. She is rear ended and her vehicle is damaged and although Jennifer felt fine the day of the accident, the next day she begins to feel pain in her neck and back. The insurance company offers her $5,000 to settle her claim. She needs to see a chiropractor for her neck and back but can’t afford it. She accepts the offer from the insurance company, most of the money goes to fixing her car and she has a little left over for seeing a chiropractor for a few months. End of story? No. After 6 months of chiropractic care, she still has daily headaches and her neck and back are in constant pain. She ends up needing surgery to fix her neck and back, costing her thousands in medical bills.
“David” had a similar accident and was in a similar situation to Jennifer but he decides to hire a lawyer to help him. Since accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis (you pay only if you win) he didn’t need any money up front to hire his lawyer. David’s lawyer pays for his chiropractic care and medical bills and advised him to wait and see if this treatment works first. Unfortunately he ends up needing surgery as well. It’s nearly a year after his accident and David is healthy again and much happier as his attorney was able to get him a $220,000 net settlement and that was after paying 33% for attorney fees.
The moral of the stories here: You can end up with a lot more money even after paying attorneys fees then trying to deal with the insurance company on your own!