Every year, around 70,000 Michiganders are injured in auto accidents in the state. Some accidents are due to drunk driving, some to excessive speed or poor road conditions, and an increasing number to distracted driving. But whatever the cause of the accident that injured you, you are almost certainly entitled to recover from either your own insurer, that of the other driver, or both. Michigan no-fault auto insurance is designed to make sure that people who are injured in auto accidents receive compensation for their injuries. Is it really necessary to have a lawyer if you were injured in a car crash?
The answer is an emphatic “yes.” Personal injury attorneys have an unsavory (and undeserved) reputation as “ambulance chasers,” but the reality is that they advocate for injured people when they are most vulnerable, and can usually help their clients get a much better insurance settlement than they would have on their own. Here are a few reasons you need a lawyer if you were hurt in an auto accident.
You Pay No Attorney Fees Unless Your Case is Successful.
You may be worried about the expense of a lawyer, especially when you are unable to work and have medical bills piling up. The first thing you should know about having legal representation is that most attorneys who accept injury cases do so on a contingent fee basis.
As the name suggests, a contingent fee means that the amount of the lawyer’s fee is contingent upon the settlement or judgment you receive. If the case is unsuccessful, you pay no attorney fee at all. Essentially, this is a no-lose situation for you.
You may be wondering to yourself, “Why should I pay an attorney a percentage of my recovery, when I can just negotiate for myself and cut out the middleman?” We’re glad you asked.
Attorneys Know What Your Case is Worth.
Hopefully, your injury is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you will never have to deal with an insurance company in this way again. You will file a claim with your insurance company, and be offered a settlement. It may seem like a significant amount of money, and you may be eager to accept it.
Not so fast. It may seem like the insurance company is offering you a good settlement, but there are strings attached. Once you accept the settlement, your claim is resolved. If you later discover that your injuries were more severe than you first thought, you’ll be out of luck. And people do tend to underestimate the seriousness of their injuries, as well as the time they will need off of work and their limitations when they return. If your settlement money runs out before you have completely recovered and your medical bills are paid, you will be without recourse.
Realistically, how could you know what a reasonable settlement is? You have probably never been in this situation before. Your attorney, however, has seen hundreds of cases like yours. He or she can refer you to the physicians who will be able to determine the extent of your injuries and your likely future needs. Most importantly, your attorney will explain your rights and discourage you from settling for too little. Often, having an attorney negotiating on your behalf will double or triple the amount of a settlement offer, or perhaps increase it even more.
This is not just because attorneys are good negotiators (although they are).Having a lawyer signals to the insurance company that you are willing to fight for your rights. Trials are expensive, and the insurance company could lose. Offering you a truly reasonable settlement through your attorney saves the insurance company the cost of a trial, and saves you the time and stress of a trial.
Attorneys (Not Insurance Companies) Work for You.
No matter how nice and helpful the representative of an insurance company is, you must remember that the insurance company does not work for you. Insurance companies are businesses, and businesses exist to make a profit. Insurance companies make profit by paying out as little as reasonably possible in claims. The insurance company representative may indeed wish you well, but getting you all the money that you need for your recovery is simply not their highest priority.
You can be certain that your insurance company has highly-skilled attorneys at the ready to protect their interests. Unless you have an attorney, there is no one doing the same for you.
Attorneys Fight for You When You’re Vulnerable.
Let’s face it: when you’ve been seriously injured, your focus needs to be on one thing: regaining your health. You simply may not have the energy or resources to advocate for yourself the way you would need to in order to get a decent settlement. Insurance companies know this. In fact, they rely on it.
The good news is that you don’t have to fight alone. If you have an attorney to advocate for you, you can put your energy where it belongs—on getting better—while your attorney handles the negotiation and advocacy.
You’re not required to have an attorney if you’re injured in a car accident, of course. But since consultation is free and there is no attorney fee unless you win, you do yourself a disservice if you don’t at least consult with an attorney before agreeing to accept a settlement.
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