The blog pack is back, looking at a topic from our various perspectives.
each will provide a blog this week. The topics will revolve around issues that we see in our day to day practices.
My article discusses issues that arise in the days right after an injury, especially for people without lawyers. Rick Shapiro nailed a number of the issues with a great start: Car Accident Injury Client: What Makes the Case Good or Bad? (The Collision & Medical Care).
Joe Crumley and I have addressed the issue a couple of times in a couple of different ways. I look forward to this chance to add to the discussion.
I’ll start by looking at the time right after the collision. You are at home, in the hospital or maybe even still at the scene. Out of the blue, an insurance adjuster shows up. They want you to sign papers. In some cases are even trying to hand you a check.
For the insurance company, it’s a way to get out of liability and to close the file. They know that there is a percentage of people who really need money, so they will prey on that group. In these economic times, it probably is happening even more often.
There are a number of points to consider:
– For a minor, there is no way that they can settle the case without a judge’s approval. I’ve seen companies try to get around this, but it’s the law.
– When the settlement discussions are going on, how does the adjuster not reach the point of practicing law? Are there questions about: if the person needs a lawyer, about the value of the case, or discussions about fault? All of these get very close to giving out legal advice. I do it and I need to follow up with information on the statute of limitations. The non lawyer does it and they are breaking the law.
– Most car collisions involve the tort thresholds in Minnesota. Basically, you need to have $4000 in medical expenses, a permanent injury or 60 days loss of enjoyment of life. You meet one of those and you have a claim for pain and suffering. You don’t and you have no claim other than the bills, wage and your property damage. I look at the $500.00 offer this way. If you meet a threshold and have a permanent injury, is there any way that is worth $500.00? If you don’t , well what did you really lose by waiting and making sure?
– Most of these settlements are quick. They take place within days or weeks of the collision. While some cases can be evaluated at that time, usually it takes time to get a full view of your injuries and to also get through a complete year. Is there something that you do in the winter or summer that will cause you problems? It’s worth waiting to make sure you can play softball or snowmobile without problems.
My advice is don’t sign anything until you talk to a lawyer that works in this area of the law. Someone that can answer your questions and has been through this many times before. Someone that will be able to tell you if you have a case, if the offer is fair and most importantly, can legally give you the advice.
Now stay tuned and check out the other posts that are part of this series:
I was in an automobile accident. What should I do? Ten Tips For Hawaii Drivers, Wayne Parsons on September 14, 2009 – 3:59 AM EST.
What would a caveman bring to meet with the lawyer? ,Steve Lombardi , September 15, 2009 11:00 AM
Solving Legal Problems, Being a Client, Back to the Basics , Steve Lombardi , September 15, 2009 8:48 AM
Car Accident Injury Client: What Makes the Case Good or Bad? (The Collision & Medical Care) , Rick Shapiro September 16, 2009 9:38 AM
Being a Client: More Tips To Help Improve Your Case If You’ve Been In An Car Accident , Devon Glass , September 17, 2009 8:39 AM
Presumed Guilty: How to Avoid Having Insult Added to Injury When You’ve Been Hurt in a Car Crash, Pierce Egerton , September 18, 2009 4:28 PM
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.