In the aftermath of any significant personal injury-causing event, many concerns immediately come to the forefront for an involved participant. Who covers lost wages? Who covers my medical expenses? What compensation will I receive? There is a necessary tension or necessary choice confronting anyone involved in an automobile accident. On the one hand, there is the notion that the insurance companies can handle it. In this “they will handle it” scenario the claims for property damage, medical treatment and attendance, lost wages, and other personal injuries are submitted to an insurance company who then arbitrarily arrives at the appropriate amount for each [or lets settlement software spit out an arbitrary number]. On the other hand, the other option is for the individual involved in that car accident to retain an experienced car accident lawyer as our friend Attorney Eric T. Kirk recommends.
The motivations for each decision are clear, forthright and understandable. The person in the first scenario is motivated by a desire to save money, to not incur legal fees, and in particular litigation costs. Where that person has a sense that the claim is perhaps not a significant one to needlessly incur legal fees and costs.
These concerns are no doubt important to second the individual- the one who has made a choice to “lawyer-up” and retain personal injury counsel. However, this person has also expressed a desire to ensure that they receive full compensation for their injury or loss. This person has decided that an experienced advocate, with potentially decades of background in handling claims such as theirs, might be best suited to give them advice. They believe they improve their chances of getting every benefit to which they might be entitled under the law. For example, if during the course of a car accident claim an individual decides that they made a mistake. That they made a choice or elected an option, and have now changed their mind and no longer wish to pursue that option.
Do they have recourse? In this hypothetical example assume is a substantive right for that individual to change their mind within a fairly short period of time. Now, if the insurance company perceives that the choice the person has made is favorable to the insurance company, do they have an obligation to tell or to inform the person of their rights? Does the insurance company have to advise that they have a right under the law to change their mind. Courts and many jurisdictions have ruled, in fact, they do not. Even when the person who has made the error or changed their mind is a customer [an insured] of that insurance company. The reasoning sometimes offered in advance is that an insurance company -even with respect to its own insured- does not stand in the same shoes as legal counsel and is not expected or required to render legal advice about the options and avenues available to the injured person. These courts have ruled that although an insurance company, even in respect to its own insured, does not occupy that position, the attorney does, and indeed is expected to. It is part of their role as a personal injury attorney to make sure the injured person understands each of the rights and each of the options available, and, gives guidance as to which is best.
If you are in need of an attorney, contact one near you to schedule a consultation where you can ask any questions you may have.