No one ever expects that they’ll become an accident victim as they go about their day, but it can happen — no matter how much you try to avoid it. You find yourself in the hospital after someone made a bad decision that resulted in a collision, fall, or impact. Now you have medical bills, lost wages, physical impairment from your injuries, and pain you had no intention of suffering. The results of an accident for an accident victim are costly, but studies have shown that hiring a personal injury attorney helps you get more out of a settlement.
The idea of getting a personal injury lawyer for a settlement may feel like you’re taking on more work for yourself. It’s an understandable feeling, especially as you recover from your injuries. What makes retaining a lawyer worthwhile is the fact that you can get more money for your medical costs, eliminate harassment by the insurance adjuster, and gain peace of mind knowing someone is working on your behalf to make sure you get a fair settlement. Here’s a look at some of the studies that back up the why and how hiring a personal injury attorney can result in a better settlement.
The Studies Supporting Improved Settlement Outcomes With a Lawyer’s Help
There are three major studies and a report that show a clear correlation between retaining a lawyer for a personal injury accident and getting a larger settlement. The Insurance Research Council (IRC) published a study in 1999 with results that still hold true over 20 years later. The study, “Paying for Auto Injuries: A Consumer Panel Survey of Auto Accident Victims,” has been updated since it was first published, but what the study found then still holds true today. That is, accident victims who hired attorneys to help them with a claim received 40% more in the insurance settlement than those who didn’t retain a lawyer.
A separate report published by the IRC, “Auto Injuries: Claiming Behavior and Its Impact on Insurance Costs,” took a look at how representation by a lawyer relates to compensation for an insurance settlement. The IRC noted that 85% of all money paid out in insurance settlements for bodily injury claims is paid to people who are represented by lawyers.
In 2014, the IRC conducted a study titled “Auto Injury Insurance Claims: Countrywide Patterns in Treatment, Cost and Compensation.” The study collected data from over 35,000 personal injury claims from 12 private car insurance providers. The 12 insurers represented 52% of the private car insurance market in the U.S. and found that attorney involvement affected the amount paid by the insurance companies for the medical expenses of claimants.
Another study conducted by the All-Industry Research Advisory Council (AIRAC), titled “Attorney Involvement in Auto Industry Claims,” found that accident victims who retained an attorney received $1.59 per dollar of economic loss, whereas unrepresented claimants received $1.26. There is a clear economic advantage to hiring a personal injury lawyer after an accident of any kind.
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer After Becoming an Accident Victim
It’s advisable to find an attorney after receiving injuries in an accident that’s not your fault. The weeks and months after the accident will see your days full of doctor visits, physical therapy, or rehabilitation, and you may need to undergo further surgery or treatment. An insurance adjuster knows you’re vulnerable during this time and will do what they can to pressure you into taking a settlement for less than what you need. You may feel compelled to take the settlement, because you want to pay your bills, eliminate a source of pressure, and move forward with your recovery. Family members who have lost a loved one are going to experience similar pressure from the insurance adjuster to take a lump-sum settlement for their loss.
The fact is, you’re at risk of losing a lot of money for your ongoing bills and needs, no matter whether you’re the accident victim or a bereaved family member.
Signing a settlement without guidance from a lawyer is the equivalent of signing your rights away for good. An insurance settlement includes language that bars you and the insurance company from suing each other after both parties have signed. You agree that the amount that’s offered is sufficient to cover your medical bills and related costs. What isn’t disclosed is the fact that the amount isn’t sufficient to cover all of your bills, and you won’t be left with enough money after medical providers get their cut from the settlement.
How Can an Attorney Increase the Value of My Settlement?
Insurance companies know they can’t push you around when you have an attorney representing you. A personal injury attorney knows how insurers operate and can use that knowledge to your advantage so you get a fair settlement that covers your current and future financial losses caused by the accident. Hiring an experienced attorney gives you access to someone who will:
- Become your advocate and take over all communications related to the accident. This allows you to recover from your injuries without the additional stress imposed upon you by an insurance adjuster and any other insurance company representatives.
- Collect all the evidence related to your case, including the police report, finding video evidence if it exists, talking to witnesses, and bringing in expert witnesses who can validate the facts related to your case. All of this information and the testimony of expert witnesses can be used in court on your behalf if necessary.
- Handle the paperwork and forms for your case. You don’t have to try to fill out unfamiliar documentation and run the risk of making a mistake.
- Focus on putting the maximum amount of blame on the other party and reducing your amount of fault. Texas uses comparative negligence laws to determine who has the most responsibility for the accident. The less fault that’s assigned to you, the higher the settlement offer is likely to be.
- Treat your case as if it’s heading to court instead of settlement. A majority of personal injury cases wind up settling before they get to court, but you still have the right to go to court if the insurance company tries to get out of reaching a fair settlement. If the insurer doesn’t want to negotiate in good faith, your lawyer can file your case for a court hearing and put pressure on the insurance company. This is also done in keeping with the statute of limitations (deadline).
- File a lawsuit on your behalf before the statute of limitations runs out. In Texas, the statute of limitations is a maximum of two years in most cases, and insurers will do what they can to deny you a settlement. That includes stretching out negotiations until the statute of limitations runs out in an attempt to deny you a settlement of any kind. A personal injury lawyer keeps track of the calendar on your behalf and make sure that the insurer can’t get out of paying a settlement by running out the statute of limitations.
Most people don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the law, nor do they know how to push back against pressure from an insurance adjuster. The time to learn about these topics isn’t in the days following an accident, but accident victims are often thrown into this situation due to unscrupulous practices by insurance companies. Hiring a Houston personal injury lawyer relieves you of these burdens and takes care of the hard work while you work on your recovery.
Call a Houston Personal Injury Attorney for Help With Getting a Fair Settlement
After a personal injury of any type, no matter if it’s a car accident, slip and fall, or a bad reaction to what is a supposedly safe medication, get in touch with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law at (713) 973-8888 today for a free and confidential consultation. Terry Bryant is a former judge with 22 years on the bench and has over 30 years of experience in personal injury law. He works hard to protect the rights of his clients and doesn’t hesitate to take on major corporations, insurance providers, and insurance companies. His handpicked staff of litigators and support personnel have the knowledge and experience it takes to win or settle your case in a fair manner.