If you were injured in a Michigan car accident, you have probably received all types of advice on whether you should try to settle your case without a lawyer. Many accident victims settle their cases on their own and do not pay the contingent attorney fee. This strategy works some of the time and can save you the legal fees, but there are certain things that you must know before you try this on your own.
First, the insurance company will make you sign a Release of All Claims in order to get your settlement check. This is a legal document prepared by the insurance adjuster that requires that you forever waive all of your rights against the negligent driver, owner of the vehicle, insurance company, and everyone else in the entire world. Once you sign that document, you are done.
You must be careful that the Release does not contain any language that waives your right to future no-fault insurance benefits, like medical bills and lost wages, as that is a completely separate case. These claims are totally separate from your personal injury claims and they are lifetime benefits. A mistake in waiving these benefits will cost you a lifetime of medical expense payments and this can be devastating if you injuries worsen or if new problems arise later on.
Second, settling a case yourself is not a bad idea when it is a small case with minimal injuries. In fact, we often encourage clients to this by themselves if they are comfortable negotiating with the insurance company and reviewing legal documents before they sign them. Insurance adjusters are highly trained to negotiate settlements so you should similar experience in order to obtain the best result.
However, in cases with serious injuries in which significant compensation is involved, there are many things that you might not know that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars. For example, let’s say that you suffered a herniated disc in your back that required surgery and the adjuster tells you that there is only $20,000 in liability coverage for your claim. Your case may be worth ten times or more than that amount. Should you take the money?
Well, the adjuster may not be telling you the truth and there may be additional monies available that you will never know about. If you sign the Release and later learn about other policies, you are out of luck. There may be additional insurance coverage from the following:
- The vehicle owner that caused the accident may have a separate policy than the driver with additional insurance coverage.
- The vehicle owner and driver may have an umbrella policy that provides much higher coverage.
- The driver may have been driving in the course of employment which would trigger additional insurance coverage by the employer.
- You may have underinsurance coverage through your own policy that would add on more potential settlement funds. If you accept a settlement without getting the written permission of your own insurance company first, you give up your right to get this additional compensation.
As you can see, there is a lot more involved than meets the eye when it comes to receiving the best possible compensation for your injuries. In a small case, you may want to try it yourself. However, in matters involving serious injuries and damages, you should at least first consult with a lawyer to see if you can settle the case yourself. Our lawyers will give you the honest answer, even if it means losing out on a client, because there are times when you do not need to pay attorney’s fees.
In larger cases, there are too many pitfalls to try it yourself and you need to find the best possible Michigan car accident lawyer for your case. For more information about your rights after a Michigan accident and to speak with one of our expert attorneys, call us now at (800) 606-1717 or simply submit the Get Help Now form on this page and we will get back to you quickly.