Yes, you do.
You are up against trained professionals, and you are going to need help.
As my dad used to say, “if everyone were honest, I wouldn’t need to lock my car”. I’m not saying all claims adjusters try to cheat you. But I am saying that they are trained professionals whose duty is to protect their companies’ interests, not yours. Its not just that you can’t tell from a ten minute phone conversation which ones are honest; my advice is don’t trust any of them. Remember, its their job to get the claim settled and pay you as little as possible to do so. Need convincing? Just ask one of them to commit, in writing, to paying your medical bills and leave the other claims open to settle later.
You may have seen on TV last year that claims adjusters from a major auto insurance company were caught on video tape convincing people not to hire a lawyer and to sign documents for a quick settlement. That same company was found guilty in another state of violating the insurance code and practicing law without a license. Why do they do this? In my opinion, the answer is simple: they know they have to pay out more money if you wait to heal or hire a lawyer.
Claims adjusters often try to get you to settle quickly for a few hundred dollars, before you have time to think, talk to a lawyer or find out just how bad your injuries are. This can be tempting if you need money, especially if you can’t work. I advise against this. You need time to heal, to learn whether or not you will return to normal and to see exactly how much money you have to spend to get better.
An experienced injury attorney can help guide you through this process. He (or she) can keep the company off your back, stop those annoying calls and properly evaluate many questions such as liability and what would be a fair recovery for you. It may be that there is a need to investigate or interview witnesses in order to convince the company to pay. The attorney can also make sure you get the benefits of any insurance you have paid for.
The best way to select an injury attorney is by referral. Talk to someone you trust or someone who deals with injured people a lot. They know who the honest lawyers are because the dishonest ones show their colors very quickly. Most injury attorneys will talk to you for free, without obligation, so you can ask all the questions you want before you decide.
John L. Gorman III is an experienced, personal injury attorney with offices in Modesto, California. He has been voted “Modesto’s Favorite Lawyer” in the Modesto Bee Poll three years in a row. He can be reached at (209) 548-4000.
This article represents only the general opinions of John L. Gorman III. It is intended only for general information and not as legal advice for any particular situation. If you want legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.