As a personal injury lawyer, I come across many people who wish to use my services to represent them in their personal injury case. Usually I am contacted via phone (though e-mail is becoming more and more common). I personally want to speak on the phone with these people first and if I suspect we can help, I like to set up a personal meeting. Call me old fashioned but I like to look someone in the eye and thank them for considering my law firm whether they have a big case, a small case or something in between.
In our computer system, we call the personal meetings new client interviews. Sometimes the meeting takes place at my office, sometimes at the injured person’s home, and sometimes at the hospital. Sometimes these new client interviews are regarding catastrophic injuries such as the loss of a limb in a trucking accident and sometimes these new client interviews are for non-catastrophic injuries such as someone who broke a bone in a car accident. The potential client is interviewing me and I am interviewing the potential client. In these interviews, whether or not the potential client asks or not, I always address the question of “When should we approach the insurance company regarding settlement?”
When should we approach the insurance company regarding settlement?
The honest answer is, “I don’t always know.” That’s not what most people want to hear. They want to hear something along the lines of “Soon, very soon.” There are lawyers, many lawyers out there who will tell people just that. Frankly, those lawyers are being dishonest, don’t know what they are doing or are not keeping your best interests in mind.
I tell people the following:
- It’s not wise to be approaching an insurance company regarding settlement of a personal injury until at least four to six months from the date of the accident. First, we need to figure out where you are medically and that often takes some time. That nagging neck or back injury might be a simple strain or something more serious. It takes time to tell.
- If you are approaching an insurance company regarding settlement shortly after an accident, you are sending a message, a loud message. That message is either, 1.) I’m not too hurt; and/or 2.) I’m desperate for money. Both are horrible messages to send to insurance companies who make millions of dollars by underpaying injured people for legitimate claims.
- Those things being said, as a contingent fee lawyer, we don’t get paid until you do, so rest assured we will be aggressive about bringing your case to a conclusion BUT, AT the appropriate time.
Be careful of lawyers who promise quick settlements.
Now, there is no doubt that there are lawyers who will sign up a case and try and get it settled soon, very soon after an accident. Those lawyers generally aren’t acting in the best interests of their clients. They are acting within the best interests of their bank accounts. They are going for the quick easy money. Their philosophy is that they are better off settling a case 3 months after an accident for 20 to 50 cents on the dollar rather than working the case appropriately for a year or so and obtaining the full value of a particular case. Shame on those lawyers, and there are plenty of them.
We can help.
We recognize that many people want their money and they want it soon. We also realize that trying to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company too soon after an accident can cause damage to your case. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, we can help. Consultations are FREE and at a minimum, if you call us soon after an accident, we can get you on the right track so that you are able to maximize the value of your personal injury case. Call us at 312-635-4156. One of our lawyers will be glad to speak with you.