Should I Settle My Auto Accident Claim Without an Attorney?By Stewart J. Guss on October 10th, 2017
A federal study indicates that the economic cost of traffic accidents nationwide is more than $242 billion each year. This includes the present value of lifetime economic costs for nearly 33,000 fatalities, nearly four-million injuries and roughly 24 million vehicles destroyed or damaged. Considering quality-of-life costs for those injured in accidents, the total value of harm from motor vehicle crashes in 2010 was $836 billion.
Private insurers pay about 54 percent of those costs, or roughly $130 billion. Because insurance companies operate for a profit, they are going to do everything possible to limit their losses, and are under no legal obligation to settle cases for reasonable amounts. For this reason, accident victims should retain an attorney to represent them after an accident.
Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Hire a Lawyer to Help Settle Your Claim
Whether you are pursuing a post-accident claim against your own insurance company or the insurer for another driver, it is important to keep several things in mind. If the other driver was at fault based on police reports or other circumstances, you might file a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy. Even if you are filing a claim against your own policy, however, you should consider several points:
- Insurance companies try to minimize pay-outs: Payments for accidents are losses for insurance companies. Insurance adjusters will attempt to minimize those payments, giving you the least amount of money they can.
- Insurance companies do not want lawyers involved: If an attorney is representing the claimant, insurance companies know that the claim will likely cost them more.
- Was another driver involved in the auto accident? If another driver was at fault in your crash, you will need to file a claim with his auto insurance provider. When you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, that insurer’s goal will be to minimize its losses. Claims adjusters often try to use their negotiation experience to take advantage of you.
- Most accident victims do not know how much their claim is worth, as non-economic damages and future losses can be difficult to calculate.
Given all that, it seems clear that going up against an experienced claim negotiator means you should have an experienced negotiator of your own. Most people don’t get into many traffic accidents that involve substantial damage claims. When you do, though, it pays to have someone on your side who is experienced in such negotiations and knows how to determine the true value of your claim. If you choose to represent yourself, you run the risk of accepting a settlement offer far less than the value of your claim—and being left with uncompensated losses.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Houston Car Accident Lawyer
If you are involved in an accident and believe the other driver may have been at fault, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free case evaluation to see if you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries, contact Stewart J. Guss, attorney at law, at 800-898-4877, or send us an email through our online contact form.