I was quoted this week in an article by Christopher Elliott in Forbes, When To Hire A Lawyer For An Insurance Claim.
What I see in my work is that it often is necessary to find a lawyer to help. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to deny, delay, and deflect legitimate claims by regular people, rather than adjust such claims fairly and quickly, as they should do.
If your claim is denied, or you have suffered serious injuries, or you don’t know what you need to do to get better, you need to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to see what your options are and for help to determine the best path forward. Many cases are too complicated to handle on your own, and hiring a lawyer is the best approach to handle the problem. I consult with potential clients who have meritorious claims that have been denied by insurers, sometimes their own insurer, but more often it is a third party claim, where the potential client has been dealing with the negligent party’s insurer.
A claim could be denied where the insurer believes liability will be difficult to establish. The injured person needs to consult with an attorney to help in that kind of situation and give an independent assessment of whether the case can or should be pursued or not. There could be more insurance available. The client may need additional medical help that they don’t know how to receive, including for serious injuries that aren’t usually dealt with by our acute care medical system, including traumatic brain injuries. These cases could be difficult, and if the client needs help, the client may need to call several lawyers in a challenging, but meritorious case before getting the answers they need to help them determine whether they can or should move forward with the case or not. There is no question that a client’s chance of success with their case goes up, and the case value goes up, when they have a capable lawyer advocating for them. It is worth the cost of doing so anytime there are serious injuries, and worth a free consultation when the client needs help or has questions about their claim. In such circumstances, you need to find a lawyer that you can trust and feel comfortable with for the life of the case. It could take several months, or years, to resolve. Your attorney should answer your questions and make you feel like they have the expertise necessary to handle your case.
In cases involving a personal injury, I work on a contingency fee, so there is not an upfront charge to the client to help with their case. I get paid if we win a settlement or at trial. Case criteria will vary from law firm to law firm. Some firms do not handle certain categories of cases, including medical malpractice or premises liability fall down injuries. When firms do handle such claims, most will be careful about which claims they take on, because they can only get paid if they win the case. Many firms will have varying considerations and opinions about the value of the case, including the liability limits, the nature of the injuries, the insurance company, and other considerations, which will guide their consideration about accepting or declining the case. Some clients will have their case declined by a number of lawyers, before finding a firm that accepts their case. That eventual acceptance of a case can be the result of a more thorough vetting intake process, which indicates that there may be something important about the case that prior firms have overlooked.
Sometimes, it may make sense for a person to handle a case on their own. If they don’t have much in terms of damages, then it will not make economic sense to hire a lawyer, either by the hour or on a contingency basis. In that circumstance, there either may not be much, if any, bodily injury, or it may be a small or modest property damage claim. There, it can make sense for a person to use their small claims court, called the Magistrate Court in Georgia, to hold the defendant and their insurer responsible. It is a system that is designed to handle small claims of up to $15,000 without a lawyer and allows people to seek justice on their own, where there is a fairly simple case, like an insurance dispute.
Sometimes, I consult with a badly injured client who has waited too long and I cannot help them. I have potential clients call who have tried to file medical malpractice cases on their own and the case was thrown out of court. That is almost always a very bad idea, as these are complicated, difficult cases involving medical experts, and the injured person does not know that they need a medical expert to proceed with the case. Other potential clients come on the very eve of a statute of limitations, and the case requires having an expert on board at the beginning of the case. Other claims, against government entities, require a pre-litigation notice to the government quickly after the injury, before the statute of limitations would expire (such as a 6 or 12 month notice, depending on the government entity involved). Working up and investigating a case properly takes time, so the client needs to find help quickly when they need assistance with a claim or a dispute with an insurance company.
Here is a link to Chris’ article in Forbes to read more: https://bit.ly/3fGH4kx