Many people who are involved in accidents do not know all their rights under the law. Mr. Lygnos will advise you regarding the feasibility of pursuing a claim for damages. This office represents individuals injured as a result of:
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims
Slip and Fall
Assault & Battery
Industrial Exposure & Injuries
What should you do if you have been involved in an accident?
Under our system of laws, monetary compensation is next best way to make accident victims whole. Some people are uncomfortable with this concept, and trial attorneys are unfairly attacked in the media over money damages, but when it is your life that was disrupted, when it is your health that was taken from you unjustly, when it is you and your family doing without and suffering by no fault of your own, then you tend to understand the important function that people like Mr. Lygnos, personal injury attorneys, serve. The insurance lobby demonizes the personal injury suit as the ruin of our country. But tort reform has not brought down your medical or insurance costs. You deserve to be compensated. How else can you recover your property that was damaged, your lost wages, or all of the pain and suffering you have endured through no fault of your own? What about the impact that your injuries have had on your life, your family, your friends?
Personal Injury Claims: What you need to know
Whether you have been injured in an automobile / motorcycle / trucking accident, a slip and fall, an airplane or train accident, an assault, or any other kind of incident, nothing can be more frustrating than dealing with all of the procedural issues that come up – on top of trying to heal from your injuries. Some people may be reluctant to seek help from an attorney because they don’t want to be seen as litigious or greedy. But there are some very simple truths you about which you should be aware:
1. The insurance company is trying to pay you the lowest amount possible. If you have any experience dealing with an insurance adjuster, you have probably already figured this out. First, let’s look at the obvious (but often overlooked). This person’s title is “adjuster.” So what are they charged with adjusting? Your claim, downward. Adjusters do not get promoted for paying more than a claim is worth, or for repeatedly paying what a claim is worth. Their job is to “adjust” your claim to the lowest possible amount you will accept.
2. Many injury victims think it will be easier, quicker, and cheaper to handle their own claim. In their mind, they can’t justify paying an attorney a fee from the proceeds of the settlement or verdict. They think the fee will reduce the net amount they are receive for their claim. In many cases, nothing could be further from the truth.
3. An insurance adjuster will usually not take your claim seriously if you are not represented by an attorney. They have handled thousands of claims, and will often take advantage of those who have never negotiated a claim. An adjuster often will believe that if you didn’t think your claim was serious enough to hire an attorney, then why should he or she view your claim as being serious.
4. Your Insurance Adjusters' job is to pay you less on your claim. Not only is the adjuster’s job to pay you as little as possible, but there is also a collection agent, or a lien holder’s representative, whose job is to try to have you pay as much as possible for the medical bills, even if you had a policy of auto or health insurance in place at the time of the incident. With these two professionals “working” on your claim, are you qualified to look out for your own interests?
5. The persons that injured you will not, in most cases, be financially destroyed if you are paid full value on your claim. Unless the conduct causing the injury was reckless (e.g., drunk driver) or intentional (e.g., an assault) many personal injury victims are concerned that if they are paid full value on their claim that they will financially destroy the person who injured them. Many people, out of the kindness of their own hearts, are reluctant to enforce their rights because they don’t want to punish somebody for an accident. This is usually derived from two courses of thought: (1) they realize that they could have made the same mistake; and (2) they believe that insurance rates are already too high because of “greedy” Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs’ attorneys.
6. It is important to remember that people/companies have insurance policies to cover injuries to a third party – you. Secondly, there is a chance that you will be suffering long after all of the financial aspects of your claim have ended. Do you really want to feel sorry for the insurance company, whose sole purpose is to provide coverage for these types of events, especially knowing that they are trying to pay you as little as possible.
7. It is not a good strategy to find out what the insurance company is willing to pay, and then decide if you need an attorney. Many personal injury victims, in an attempt to “save money,” avoid conflict, and/or “choose the high road” will attempt to first resolve their claim on their own and then seek representation when they are dissatisfied with the insurance company’s offer. This is a very bad strategy for several reasons. First, the insurance adjuster is trained to use everything you say against you. This is why they will politely ask you if you mind if they record the telephone conversation.
8. You should not give a statement to an adjuster without advice from a lawyer. You should not give a statement to the other driver's insurance adjuster but you must give a statement to your own insurance adjuster, if they ask. They should wait until you can get a lawyer and allow your lawyer to record the conversation. Many of you will speak with an adjuster and not realize who the adjuster represents. When you allow adjusters to question you, they will then pick and choose what you say and twist it into saying that you were at fault or are recovering at a rapid rate and that you will be fully recovered in no time, regardless of whether or not this is true. They will also politely ask you to sign a release to obtain all of your medical records. They do not do this to see if there are other injuries for which they can provide compensation. Rather, they are looking for pre-existing conditions to use against you at a later date, in order to argue that your claim is worth less. Of course, they rarely tell you that you have the right to refuse to provide them with these records (at that time), but it is often written in the authorization/release in such a manner that most laypersons don’t see it, or understand it.
9. Most injury victims do not have enough experience or training to meaningfully represent themselves. You are negotiating something that is too personally close. It is said that “a lawyer representing himself has a fool for a client”, that’s why a smart lawyer will hire another smart lawyer to represent him when he has a legal claim. You may also be on medication or experiencing levels of pain that have an adverse impact on your judgment. Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators with respect to injury claims. You may be smart but they do this everyday, all day long. You are at a big disadvantage.
10. Speak with a Personal injury Attorney promptly If you do not see a medical professional who within 14 days documents your need for medical care following the crash, you can lose 75% of the PIP coverage you have paid for. If you speak with adjusters, give statements, sign releases, or even just wait and do nothing until you decide to seek representation, any mistakes you make in the negotiation will most likely hinder your attorney’s negotiation. Every time an adjuster speaks to a claimant or an attorney on the telephone, they are taking down notes, and “documenting the file.” Any perceived weakness, whether real or imagined, in your negotiation, will be used against you at a later date. Hiring an attorney after this process can minimize the damage, but it is not in your best interest to have your attorney enter into negotiations having to undo harm that you have done to your case.
11. You deserve to be compensated. In my decades of experience, I cannot recall one seriously injured person who was happy to have received even extremely large amounts of money for their injuries. Every last person would rather have their health back and would trade the money for it. How much money would be enough for you to sacrifice your leg or arm? Would you take a million dollars in return for your ability to walk? Ten million? Twenty million? Most agree no amount of money could adequately compensate them for losing their ability to walk.