Auto Insurance Claims: Major accident /did I get a lawyer too quickly?, mercedes ml 430, broken ribs

19 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Auto Insurance Claims: Major accident /did I get a lawyer too quickly?, mercedes ml 430, broken ribs
Mercedes ML 430

Auto Insurance Claims / Major accident /did I get a lawyer too quickly?



My wife and 2 sons were involved in a major accident on the highway, 3 may 06. The other vehicle lost control hit the gaurd rail and smashed into the side of my wifes 00 mercedes ml 430 beyond mint condition. The impact caused my wife to loose control of the vehicle rolling it over three times. The speed at the time of the accident was around 70 mph. The two boys were admitted to the hospital and released the next day. (thank god) they came away with nothing but scratches and minor cuts.

My wife on the other hand was admitted to ICU and then later stableized and sent to a normal hospital room. She suffered two broken ribs a huge bruise on her head from when it broke the window, whiplash and a cracked vertabae. She has been in the hospital for 6 days now and still has severe trouble walking and holding urine.

Now comes the real question after all that backgroud. After my insurance company reicieved the police report they called me and advised me to immediatly get a lawyer to handle the situation because they will not deal with any of the claim besides the vehicle. Where I live there are only two lawyers that handle traffic accident claims, so I ended up getting one yesterday. My question is did I jump the gun and get a lawyer too quick?

And what would my wife and boys be entitled to if I didnt have a lawyer already fighting their battle? What would be a ballpark figure for such an accident? Are we talking 1000’s 10,000’s 100,000’s?

Thanks for taking my question.

K Lew


Dear K. Lew,

It is surely good news for your entire family, and we do see your wife making a speedy and complete recovery.

I have no idea why the insurance company would direct you to an attorney since they never would be in a position to advise you on the claim versus the tortfeasor. But now you have buyer’s remorse and want to know whether or not you did the right thing.

Well, should I feel sorry for you with all that is on your mind during this time and give out some platitudes just to make you feel good, or should I tell you the truth?

This is NOT a complex case at all on the liability issue. So no attorney would be necessary for that. Unless there is something you have not told me, the tortfeasor’s insurance adjuster is going to concede liability.

The injuries of the boys could be handled by you until you get to a place where they would not offer any more, and then get an attorney, who would not be entitled to any part of the existing offer. Take Personal Injury Insurance Offer to PI attorney

It could be a different story as to your wife’s claim. Serious injuries such as she has are best handled by an attorney. There is a lot at stake if enough insurance is on the table, and an experienced hand can help to shape the evidence much better than one who has no idea what the injuries mean in terms of financial recovery.

In addition, good personal injury attorneys know which doctors care the most for their patients, and so can have useful suggestions as to where to go for care should your wife have any continuing problems.

The entire question, however, hinges upon what are the policy limits of the tortfeasor. What if the tortfeasor has only the minimum in your state, or even only $50,000?

Well, why would you need a lawyer to take one-third of the policy limits award of the tortfeasor in that case? Merely sending a demand letter along with all of the medical records should shake free those lower policy limits.

There are a couple of issues dealing with subrogation and preserving your own UIM claim whilst settling the tortfeasor’s claim, but they are not anything all that difficult to pick up with proper instruction. Directory of Legal Information on Liability Insurance Policy Limits Settlements in Personal Injury Insurance Claims

Bottom line, either relax in the decision you made and don’t get worried if you left a few bucks on the table, or stop the attorneys from proceeding any further until you have had time to assess the situation. Then you can always negotiate a new contract with different terms regarding policy limits and UIM resolution.

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One thing I would be curious to know is precisely why you were told to hire an attorney, and who told you. Was it your distant claims office or the local agent who is Rotary buddies and golfing partners with the two attorneys in town. And what in the world is the big emergency?

If you decide to put the cooler on the contract with the attorney, call first thing, and then follow-up with a written note. Just tell them that you had been under a lot of stress and you did not have a chance to even discuss things with your wife, and thus you do not want them to do any further work on the contract, and in fact you want to abrogate the contract for now, and you will later return to them as appropriate.

DO NOT GET INTO A DISCUSSION WITH THEM AT THIS TIME. If they want you to explain yourself and start making some noises that they want to just get started a little here and there on the case, you know that they think they have hooked on to something really good and they do not want to let go of it. And as a former one who knew how to cut a fat hog, good ole personal injury attorneys sometimes have more of an eye on their own bottom line than they do on the best interests of the client.

For example, did they volunteer to reduce their fees in the event of $25K rollover settlement or $50K policy limits on the other side? What kind of work do you think it will take to earn $16,667 on a settlement of the tortfeasor for $50K? Five hours of attorney time and four hours of staff time? What kind of hourly return on their time do you think they will make if the tortfeasor’s limits are low? Did they take their fees on the gross or the net?

In other words, do you pay them fees to recover the medical costs of your wife, or did they exempt some part or all of that from fee calculations? Just a few topics you might want to have a do-over on when you renegotiate your contract.

There likely WILL be a need for an attorney sometime in this case, and especially with your own UIM if its limits are high. But here again, is a UIM case worth paying a full one-third? What is their risk in the UIM? They are arbitrations half the time, and even if a jury trial, there is no risk whatsoever of having a defense verdict.

If a tortfeasor third party claim is contracted out at one-third, shouldn’t the rate on a UIM claim be reduced? Hey, if you have a $100,000 claim, even 5 percent off the fees is $5,000 in your pocket. What does it hurt to ask?

I went a little into depth more than usual here because there is a lot at stake. I trust my efforts are of value to you, and thus I would respectfully request that you find the feedback form on this website and leave some feedback for me.

Best Wishes,

Dr. Settlement, J.D.


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