Most people injured in an accident deal directly with the insurance company of the person or company responsible for causing the accident and injury to settle the matter without a personal injury lawyer. We hate to see this happen, because it usually means that the injured person will end up with much less than they are entitled to. Insurance companies love to settle claims this way, because they can get them done quickly and for a lot less money. You may wish settle the claim this way to avoid having to pay legal fees, or may not even be aware of the option to hire a lawyer. If you are considering settling your own claim, first consider these points:
- It’s always best to hire a lawyer to deal with your claim. We know how to get you access to care, benefits, and the true value of your claim;
- Even if you absolutely don’t want to hire a lawyer, at least take advantage of the free consultations that most personal injury lawyers offer. Contact us today, and we’ll give you some time and advice at no charge.
- Insurance companies, like all for-profit businesses, exist to make money for their owners or shareholders. If you’ve been injured by someone they insure, they will look for ways to minimize the amount they have to pay you.
- The insurance company may try to build your trust, and may tell you that you don’t need a lawyer or that a lawyer will unnecessarily prolong the process or eat up the settlement with fees. Remember #3 above – they don’t work for you, and they exist to make money.
- You may believe that the insurance company has a duty to treat you fairly, but in Alberta, that is simply not true. Insurance companies have statutory and contractual obligations to act in the best interests of their insured, not you. They have no duty to pay you top dollar, to help you out, to treat you fairly, to warn you that the limitation date is about to expire and your claim will be forever lost, or even to tell you the truth.
- You will save lawyer’s fees by settling your claim on your own, but if you don’t know how a judge would value your claim, you may settle for a fraction of what your claim is worth. Would you rather have 100% of $5000, or 66% of $50,000?
- If you were injured in a hit-and-run car accident, or by an uninsured driver, or by a government worker or entity, there may be deadlines for giving notice of your claim that you’re unaware of. A lawyer can advise you of these deadlines
- There are many things to keep track of and complexities in a personal injury action that you’re not aware of, and the right lawyer will be familiar with every one of them.
- If you settle too early, you may have injuries or problems that don’t show up for years, or you may need further treatment that you have to pay for yourself, or you may miss additional time off work. A personal injury lawyer can keep you on the proper timeline for settlement of your claim.