Personal injury lawyers get asked this question often. Few people enjoy filing lawsuits and enduring the rigors of trial. So why, if the insurance company is offering a settlement amount, go through the hassle and expense of hiring a lawyer and maybe filing a lawsuit? After all, hiring an attorney can be expensive and a lawsuit can take a long time to resolve, whereas the insurance company is offering money now.
The problem is that offering an initial, low-dollar cash settlement amount is part of a strategy employed by insurance companies to pay less than an injury victim is legally entitled to – in fact, the amount offered by the insurance company is often a fraction of what the injured person and their family is entitled to recover.
In 2007, CNN reported that 10 out of the top 12 insurance companies in the U.S. have policies designed to short-change customers with personal injury claims. They often start by offering a settlement amount that is less than the cost of medical bills and lost income, hoping the injured person will “take what they offer and walk away,” according to the story by CNN. If the customer does not accept the low-dollar offer, the insurance company will then deny or delay the claim. If the customer files a lawsuit, the insurance company will try to delay the issue in court hoping the injured person will tire and eventually give up. Many folks do just that.
The people who hire a competent injury lawyer to pursue their legitimate personal injury claim often resolve the claim for greater amounts than the insurance company offered, even after payment of attorney and court fees. In one case that CNN reporters detailed, a woman who was offered $15,000 for $25,000 worth of injury expenses and lost income filed a lawsuit against the insurance company and won a verdict of $167,000.
Not every personal injury case results in a settlement or verdict of that magnitude, but neither is it uncommon. CNN reported that injury victims “have been walking away from billions of dollars” which insurance companies pocket as profits.
One certainly does not expect the insurance company to pay less than the real costs of your injuries. That is why people buy insurance. Even if Allstate, the insurance company highlighted in the CNN report, had paid the $25,000 the woman originally asked for, it would have saved over $135,000 compared to the final verdict. Yet, Allstate and other major insurers have found that profits are higher when they treat customers and claimants unfairly by offering insignificant and inadequate settlement amounts, sometimes as little as $50, according to the CNN report, even if the occasional lawsuit results in a big payout. Worse yet, insurance companies particularly treat low-income earners poorly because members of this population think they cannot afford a personal injury lawyer. “Poor people would take it (the low-dollar offer) . . . fearing that if they didn’t, they’d get nothing at all,” the CNN report said.
The other side of this story is that true injury costs are usually much greater than people think. The woman in the CNN report received a verdict more than five times her original request. Most likely her attorney evaluated additional costs and calculated for potential future care along with money necessary to fix the harm caused to her.
Most people, when they file a personal injury claim, include only the medical bills that are due and the wages they have lost before going back to work. But many injuries, especially injuries from auto accidents and other traumatic events, affect people for the rest of their lives, causing them to see a doctor more often or causing pain or discomfort during certain activities. This impacts a person’s quality of life and, often, their ability to work and earn a living. These Australian impacts must also be calculated into a personal injury casino claim. The person who will assemble and calculate these short- and long-term costs for you is your personal injury lawyer.
If you, a loved one, or friend has been injured in a vehicle crash or other event in Wyoming or Montana, the injury lawyers at Stinson Law Group have the experience and training to make sure the insurance company treats you fairly. You do not have to “settle” for less than is fair, for less than your medical costs and lost wages, or be left without fair compensation for future problems caused by your injuries. Call the Wyoming injury attorneys at Stinson Law Group toll free today for a free consultation: (888) 527-6090.