As part of my continuing mission to education people about car insurance, motor vehicle accidents, and the civil litigation system, I recently started doing live video FAQs every Friday. We typically announce the event on Wednesday on our Seattle and Everett Facebook pages, and we seek questions for me to address during the video.
I believe in being a strong and aggressive advocate for my clients. I believe that injured people deserve to be compensated for their injuries and the effect on their lives, and I am prepared to use the full extent of the law to obtain a complete recovery for my clients. But there is a big and important difference between being aggressive and being unprofessional. I always conduct myself with professionalism and courtesy to everyone involved in my clients' claims. This professionalism starts with my clients themselves, and extends to their families, their doctors, as well as the insurance personnel and the opposing attorney. While I have found that most attorneys share this value and attempt to treat me and my clients with courtesy and respect even while disputing the claim, some claims adjusters and attorneys are consistently rude and antagonistic for no good reason. Perhaps they think being rude will intimidate me. Perhaps they think that to be a good advocate, they have to be insulting and dismissive of the other side, making demands and threats without regard for the other side's needs. In my experience, claims adjusters and attorneys like this are doing their clients a great disservice and making a favorable outcome less likely.
Most of the time, if your claim is good, a negotiated settlement can provide the best opportunity to compensate you for your injuries. Of course, money never makes what happened to you okay, but for the most part, it's all the law has to offer, and it certainly can help. Sometimes, however, the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer to settle your claim. In those cases, we have little choice but to file a lawsuit. In this chapter, I will discuss how a lawsuit gets filed, and we will explore the risks and benefits of taking your case toward trial.
Do you know what your auto insurance coverage is? Do you know how much your limits are? If you do, you're the exception. When I speak to groups and ask this question, usually less than 10 percent of the people raise their hands. The first step in optimizing your insurance coverage is to know what you already have.
Before you can settle your claim, you need to know what it's worth. Before you can know what it's worth, you need to know how the injuries affect your life, how long your treatment lasts, and how much your bills are. Although there's no way to know those things until your treatment is finished, the liability insurer (the defendant's insurance company) will want to speak to you right away, and it will possibly offer you a settlement, before your treatment has concluded.
While my staff is hard at work in our Seattle office fighting insurance companies to get the best results for our clients, I am spending today and tomorrow at my Mastermind group in Phoenix learning how to do even better. I will be back in the office on Monday with new insights and ideas to try out. This is all part of my continuing effort to improve myself as a lawyer, and my firm as a resource for injured people.
The one thing insurance companies don't want is for you to be educated about your rights. An educated claimant knows what he has to say and what he can keep private. He knows what forms he has to sign and what forms can be discarded. An educated claimant cannot be bullied by the insurance companies, but someone who doesn't know his rights can be intimidated into acting too quickly or settling for too little.
Every day I get phone calls from people who have been injured in some kind of accident. Often the first question they have for me is how much it will cost to meet with me to discuss their case. I guess it shouldn't surprise me; most people don't really pay attention to personal injury lawyers until they need one. The answer is simple: