Many victims of car accidents in the Chicago area are unsure of the laws that apply to their collisions. They often do not know what relief they are entitled to.
The situation may become even murkier if that victim is contacted by an insurance company following a crash. This is a common approach insurance companies use. They reach out to victims in an effort to settle a claim quickly and for as little money as possible.
Beware of Calls From an Insurance Carrier After an Accident
When an insurance company calls, far too often, injury victims mistakenly believe that the insurance company and its employees are on that victim’s side and will be taking the steps necessary to protect any of the victim’s rights that may be at issue.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Insurance companies have their own interests following a collision. Unfortunately, those interests are almost always in opposition to the interests of a victim. This can be true even if the insurance company involved is the victim’s own insurer.
Goals of an Insurance Company after a Car Accident
An insurance company is a business, and like any business, it needs to be profitable to continue operations. Insurance companies are in the business of receiving payments from those they insure and, when necessary, they make payments to those entitled to relief from accidents, incidents, or other misfortunes.
In the realm of car accidents, insurance companies make payments for damage done to a vehicle or other personal property. Further, they make payments for injuries that result from a crash, including medical bills. With this set-up in mind, insurance companies will take in as much money as possible while paying out as little as possible to maximize their profits.
Auto Insurance Carriers Want to Settle Fast and Cheap
Therefore, it is in an insurance company’s best interests to settle a personal injury claim as soon after an accident as possible and for as little money as it can. A regular practice among some insurance companies that operate in Chicago is to reach an accident victim by telephone and offer them a lump sum payment as compensation for their injuries in the days immediately following an accident.
Often, the payment sounds attractive to a victim who has medical expenses and may continue to incur financial damages in the coming weeks and months. Many accident victims settle quickly because they are unaware that they have the right to obtain much more for their damages. Often they don’t realize the offer is a final settlement and you can’t ask for more later.
Insurance companies strive to settle claims as soon as possible because they don’t want you to go get an attorney. Once a lawyer is on the case, insurance companies almost always need to pay substantially more to victims for their losses. Therefore, the insurance company will be out a greater amount of money.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer?
Insurance companies love it when accident victims don’t work with a personal injury lawyer. It makes their life easier and they will save the company lots of money.
In reality, if you have been in a car accident and have injuries, it is in your best interests to contact a car accident attorney in Chicago. This gives you an opportunity to learn about your legal options and whether you have a valid claim.
To prevent an insurance company from taking advantage of you, contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a collision. You should do this to protect your rights and you can get the full payment that you deserve.
Minor Injuries Can Become Serious
The complexities of a claim for injuries are not simply into one or two principles of recovery or relief. Rather, they tend to be complex scenarios that can take months or years to resolve and may take difficult turns along the way.
For example, a sore back may turn into a disc herniation with surgery. Or, a sore should could be a torn rotator cuff. Sometimes an accident victim may settle a couple days after an accident, not realizing they have yet to incur tens of thousands in medical bills.
It is a good idea to utilize the services of a lawyer to ensure that an insurance adjuster does not take advantage of you. Though the laws in Chicago enable victims with the right to obtain financial compensation, those rights will be forfeited if proper protocols are not followed.
Even a minor mistake can nullify the rights of those who suffer from an injury. Without counsel, you may mistakenly allow an insurance company and an at-fault driver get away with paying next to nothing.
Common Mistakes Made By Those Without a Lawyer
Often pro se accident victims contact our law firm after trying to handle a case on their own. We see the same mistakes over and over, for example:
- Giving a recorded statement to the defendant’s insurance company
- Settling shortly after the accident, without knowing his or her legal rights or the full extent of injuries.
- Failing to seek necessary medical treatment within a reasonable amount of time after the accident
- Signing a release of claims, believing the case can be reopened later
- Settling a claim for far less than full value
- Failing to check for medical or health insurance liens before settlement
- Paying medical and doctor bills in full (lawyers negotiate your bills)
- Failing to take advantage of additional rights under your own auto insurance carrier, such as medical payments and uninsured or underinsured coverage
- Letting the statute of limitations expire before resolving the case, barring any and all recovery
By working with a skilled personal injury lawyer, victims can rest assured that their rights will be both acknowledged and preserved. Further, if necessary, they will get their opportunity for a fair award in court.
A Claimant Without a Lawyer Has Little Bargaining Power
Many injury victims attempt to handle their claims themselves by negotiating with an insurance company. Any experienced lawyer will almost always recommend against that approach.
As an individual, you do not have the same bargaining power as a powerful insurance company. You will not be able to negotiate to the extent that a lawyer can. Why? Because you can’t back up your demands in court or elsewhere. You don’t really know the true value of your case, and the insurance adjuster knows it. This leaves a victim vulnerable to receiving only partial compensation for his or her injuries or for getting nothing at all.
It is common that people turn to a lawyer after attempting to handle their own case for some time. This is fine, but often the case has been damaged for many of the reasons stated above. A lawyer can often salvage much of the case, but that plaintiff may have otherwise had a much better case.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the valuation of a case by an insurance company varies significantly when a victim works with and without a lawyer. An offer to an injury victim without a lawyer may be pennies on the dollar of the actual case value. The offer might not even be enough to let the victim cover the expenses that stem from a crash. Instead, hiring a lawyer can substantially increase a settlement offer by tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Relief for Injury Victims in Chicago
The law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C. fights for the rights of those who have injuries. We fight insurance companies for the fair compensation that victims deserve. If you are an accident victim, we are standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call at (312) 924-7575.
When you call Abels & Annes, P.C., you will have the ability to speak with a licensed lawyer about your accident. It’s a free case consultation without obligation. Further, we will never charge you a fee unless a recovery is made on your behalf. We can also be reached online at any time.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we fight for the best possible outcome in every case we take. If you have questions, if you need help, or if you simply do not know where to turn, call us now and let us get to work for you.
If you have been injured in an accident and your claim involves an insurance company, call Abels & Annes, P.C. now at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or Contact Us online for a free case consultation.
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