Many of the West Virginia personal injury cases which we handle could be described as “small” cases. Cases where there were no catastrophic injuries. There is a medium-trauma car accident, resulting in painful, but not immediately devastating injuries. Sometimes people may think they are fine and uninjured at first, only to end up in the emergency room that evening with numbness, swelling, dizziness, or pain. These are the types of cases where the insurance adjustors will contact those who have been injured in a car accident, and will try to devalue the person’s claim.
The insurance adjustors are trained to take actions which will directly result in the injury victim getting less from the insurance policy. They will ask misleading questions which will be recorded and documented. The result will be an answer or statement which was misunderstood and which severely limits the injured person’s ability to collect a fair settlement. They may ask, “looking back, is there anything you could have done differently to avoid the accident”. They will ask about injuries, and try to place limitations on the claim before the treating doctor has even made a diagnosis. This is a practice which thrives on ignorance. The best way to avoid it is through legal representation.
However, this brings up something else that the insurance adjustors do. They manipulate the injury victims. From day one, they make a point of telling the injury victims that they should not call a lawyer. That all they will be doing is giving up a percentage of their settlement. That their settlement will end up getting delayed.
This is pure manipulation and deceit. Lawyers have to abide by a code of strict ethical regulations. They cannot lie to you. They have to look out for your best interests. Insurance adjustors are quite the opposite. You have no ability to get their licenses revoked or suspended. You are not even allowed to sue them for lying to you and misleading you. They have an incentive to cause you to settle for less. They have an incentive to keep you away from a personal injury lawyer. Almost all West Virginia personal injury lawyers will meet with you for a free consultation about your circumstances. If the one you called does not, then call someone else. Personal injury lawyers are not the bad guys. They help people, and at no up-front cost to the client. Only if you agree to hire a lawyer, and sign an attorney client agreement to that effect, does a percentage get taken from your settlement. And in that case, the lawyer has almost always provided or enabled a larger settlement than the insurance company was ever going to offer you before you had the ability to file a lawsuit. Lawyers are also familiar with what the fair value of one’s case is. They are trained in providing supporting documentation and proof, as well as in professionally presenting that information to the insurance company, and ultimately to a judge or jury.
In the end, in most cases, even though your legal fee is paid by a standard percentage of your settlement, you have taken that into consideration before accepting the settlement. An ethical personal injury lawyer will never force a client into accepting a settlement. If the client is not happy with his or her portion of the ultimate settlement proceeds, they always have the choice to proceed with the case towards jury trial.
So when the insurance company tries to manipulate you or someone you know over a personal injury claim, you need only take one step: call a West Virginia personal injury attorney (obviously it should be a personal injury attorney with a good reputation and a good track record). We will meet with you for free. There will only be a cost if you decide that you want us to take over your case. Regardless of what the adjustor said, there’s no obligation, fee, or trick when you call a personal injury attorney because you have questions or need help. A case is only “small” when the insurance company tricks you into believing that your injury is not worth a fair value. Get a second opinion.
– John H. Bryan, a West Virginia personal injury attorney who helps people in “small” personal injury cases everyday.