After your accident, are you really confused about whether to get a lawyer and if so, who?
So much depends on the lawyer you choose!
Does your new buddy, the, insurance adjuster, want to play "Let's make a deal"?
Radio host Mark Handle, Handle on the Law, recently remarked to a lady calling to inquire if she needed a lawyer: "Lady, do you know that the adjuster goes to the insurance company's school for hours just to learn how to get you to take too little for your case?"
Typical situation. You think the injuries aren't too bad. After all, it didn't even hurt much at the time you crashed. You may have even told the officer you were O.K. This is very normal. It is by that night that you really started to hurt, and by the next day you felt like you couldn't move! Not only are you sore but you have some tingling or numbness in your arms or legs or both. The adjuster has looked at your car and knows you took a pretty hard blow. (Did you know that your head moves from still to over 90 miles per hour in the split second after just a 5 mile per hour impact in a simple fender bender?)
The adjuster offers to pay your medical expenses up to a year and gives you a small lump sum besides. Why? He knows you're scared and probably need the money. He knows also that the numbness you are feeling may be an early symptom of serious disc problems in your back and/or neck, perhaps requiring surgery. He also knows that because of the expense and risks of surgery Doctors typically attempt more conservative approaches including chiropractic, physical therapy, injection therapy, massage and others. He knows, if you don't, that these alternatives often take a year or more before surgery remains the only option. And an expensive option it is, often tens of thousands of dollars for neurosurgery.
And who pays? You do. Remember the deal you made with the adjuster? After a year his company is off the hook. And you're on.
He has countless other tricks up his sleeve. Let's take your demolished car. Say it's a late model, well-kept, good car. Now its going under the wrench. It's serious work that will brand your car with salvage history if the repairs total over 25% of the value of the car. Locked in a database somewhere under your car's VIN number, that damage may come back to haunt you if you ever trade.
Often authorizing only used or "after market" parts, the adjuster will pay the repair bills, but will he pay you the fair value of the depreciation caused by the wreck, the diminished value to your car caused by his insured? No. Not unless he knows you will take him before a jury to get it.
You see, ours is an adversary legal system. This means you get only what you are willing to struggle and fight within the system to get. The insurance companies have swarms of lawyers well paid to protect their rights. Maybe that is why they only pay out around 42% of premiums the rest of us pay in.
If your car is totaled, the adjuster will offer you a price from a price book his company instructs him to use. Its prices are consistently lower than those in the widely accepted NADA book used by car dealers and banks.
Yet the adjuster will encourage you to go it alone. Don't, he's not on your side. His promotions and raises are based in part on how little he can get you and others like you to take for their cases.
Get a lawyer! And not just any lawyer, but an experienced courtroom veteran who knows how to persuade jurors the true value of your case, a lawyer who can get them to fill in the verdict sheet with an amount they would expect to receive for similar injuries.
Sign No Papers Until you have had your case fully evaluated by one of our experienced personal injury trial lawyers reviews you case.
So, Who is an experienced trial attorney and why is that important?
Think about the scales of justice. They represent the fair and balanced standards of the Court system. To win a lawsuit one has to effectively pile up the evidence on those scales and tip the balance in the claimant's favor.
And it isn't just the number of pieces or -the sheer bulk of the evidence, it's the true weight of that evidence that prompts the large verdicts.
Judge Joe Freeman Britt once said, "It takes more than sweet reason to persuade a jury." Indeed, when the jury is stirred to feel the victim's pain, sleeplessness, worry, and frustration--not to mention financial loss-- a juror is put in a better frame of mind to place a figure on the verdict sheet that reflects what he would expect for himself or a loved for enduring the same injury and aftermath.
A true trial attorney not only has these skills of persuasion but also uses them regularly. We are amazed how many attorneys seeking personal injury work almost never try their cases in court.
Great Britain licenses two distinct types of lawyers: solicitors who do only office work and barristers who try cases in court. Regular trial appearances place insurance companies on notice that our attorneys try their cases when need be. Lawyers who are not willing to try their good cases can be quickly labeled pushovers by insurance adjusters who squeeze low compromises out of clients known to be represented by lawyers who run only "settlement mills".
Does that mean our firm doesn't settle cases? Certainly not! We recognize that few clients actually want to go to court, and if a just compromise can be worked out, we will recommend that the matter be settled at mediation. This can only work to our client's benefit if the insurance company knows that we will take them to court if negotiations do not produce a fair result.
Woodberry L. Bowen
Licensed 1974, Litigation Practice with Lee and Lee, Attorneys; Prosecutor for 12 years with Joe Freeman Britt (over one thousand jury trials), continuous Litigation experience over the past34 years. Member, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers.