In short, yes, you generally should at least discuss your personal injury settlement with an attorney before you call the other driver’s insurance company. The reason is that most insurance adjusters are in the business of limiting your claim, not necessarily giving you what’s fair. The American legal system is an adversarial legal system, meaning that each party is assumed to be its own best advocate. Most insurance adjusters have been trained by the insurance companies to get damaging admissions from you on the following subjects:
- Who’s at fault?
- How are you feeling today?
- How did the accident happen?
- Did you go to any hospitals?
- Did you see a doctor?
If you tell the insurance company that you are “fine” a common response to the question “how are you doing today?” it’s possible that you could be limiting your claim by telling them that you are “fine” days after the accident. If you begin volunteering information about how the accident occurred it may be inconsistent with your police report or you may admit to speeding, talking on your phone, texting or being distracted. Any of these admissions could limit your recovery under comparative fault in causing the accident.
A seasoned personal injury attorney can help you locate your medical records and billing records, your payroll records and receipts for any goods (prescriptions, bandages, uber or lyft rides) you had to purchase as a result of the accident. The adjusters will need this information and an attorney can help you make sense of what your options are, use a comparative analysis with other cases similar to yours and advocate on your behalf with an insurance company to achieve the fair settlement that you need to move on and resolve the matter. Often the attorney can: (1) help you avoid making mistakes in calculating your recoverable damages (2) compare your lawsuit with similar cases and (3) help you obtain and review your medical records and payroll records and advocate for a higher number, i.e. the “fair settlement” that you are seeking!