I received a call last week. It was from a guy I knew pretty well. He and I had talked five or six times over the past three years about a variety of things related to the motorcycle community. But he never brought up a wreck.
It turns out he wanted to talk about his personal injury case. The wreck was in March 2017. Three days left on the statute of limitations.
He had tried to settle the case himself. He had $12,000 in treatment expenses. The insurance company offered to reimburse his insurance company $12,000 and pay him $8,000. Fortunately, he said “no” and called us.
We were able to get suit filed for him. Everything’s going to work out just fine. But it made me wonder: How many other cases are there out there where people think they’re going to net more by settling on their own?
There are some DIY projects that work out better than expected. I’ve been busy in the garage and finished a bunch of long neglected projects. We now have additional storage and a good bike hanging solution thanks to strut channel.
But there would be a lot of projects that would end in disaster. Like if I tried to replace the circuit breaker panel or cut a hole in the roof for a skylight. Personal injury is kind of the same way.
A study done by the ABA showed that, on average, people with attorneys get over three times more than people without. Based on the offers we see to people handling their own claims, the number is probably higher. But even if you use the ABA figure (3X), that means that after fees they get twice as much and don’t have to do any of the work.
And that’s just on the front-end. People represented by attorneys don’t get surprised on the back end when they find out that they may have to pay-back their own insurers for benefits received. And in many cases, we can reduce or completely eliminate the reimbursement obligation.
(The guy I mentioned: that $12,000 for treatment expenses should be paid to him, not his insurance carrier—if he was even 1% at fault for the wreck, none if it gets paid back to the carrier under state law.)
FIDELITY AND THE REFERRING ATTORNEY
A lot of our cases come from attorney referrals. Some of the attorneys send clients to us as soon as they find out they’ve been hurt. There are others who decide that they’d like to try their hand at settling personal injury cases.
One of our best referral sources is a friend from law school. He’s an exceptional criminal defense attorney. Very clever and great in the courtroom. He knows a little bit about personal injury so when a client has a car wreck, he will write a demand letter and try to settle their case.
When it turns out he’s unable to negotiate a fair settlement he comes to us. He’s always a little bit sheepish about admitting he tried to settle the case himself. I let him know that I don’t care if he did some work on the case himself. The only thing I care about is that he comes to us when he can’t get the case settled. Ultimately, it works out well for both of us.
If you got hurt and have tried to settle to settle your own case give us a call. We’ll let you know whether the offer you received is fair and whether there are any back-end issues you should be thinking about.
If you’re an attorney who focuses on something other than personal injury and haven’t been able to settle a case, refer it to us. We’ll make sure that you end up with more money than if you try to handle it on your own.
If you know someone who’s trying to do it themselves, tell them to put down the shovel. They’re digging themselves a hole. We can help.