If you’ve recently been involved in an auto accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be irate after receiving push-back from the other driver’s insurance company (or your own if you live in a state with no-fault insurance laws) about paying for the expenses you’ve incurred. Even if you only want your life to go back to the way it was before the accident, you may have trouble getting your medical bills and car repair costs paid without a prompt settlement offer from the insurance company. What can you do to protect your rights and receive the funds you’re owed? Read on to learn more about some of the situations in which you may want to hire a private attorney to fight an insurance battle on your behalf.
When should you retain a private attorney to fight an insurance claim?
In most states, when you’re involved in an accident that isn’t your fault, your insurance company will act as the go-between and communicate with the other driver’s insurance agent to resolve your claim. In an ideal situation, this can make the accident repair and medical expense reimbursement processes much simpler. However, if the other driver is contesting fault or you didn’t have a police report generated at the accident scene, sorting out the insurance responsibilities can be a tougher task. You may want to hire a private attorney to help aggressively represent your rights and pursue settlement for a fair price.
It’s always in the insurance company’s best interests to minimize its own financial losses. This can mean that your insurance company may push to settle for less than you feel you’re owed, especially if you were injured and are expecting to have ongoing physical therapy costs or other medical expenses stemming from the accident. Often, these types of ongoing or not-yet-incurred expenses are ignored by insurance companies when it comes to settling a claim. You may also disagree with your insurance adjuster when it comes to the valuation of your car and any personal belongings inside, as well as any health issues and the prognoses given by your doctors.
Hiring your own attorney to advocate for your rights rather than relying on the insurance agent to protect you may be the best decision you can make. You’ll usually be required to sign over a certain percentage of your total recovery to the attorney in exchange for his or her services — this is called a contingency fee, and is usually around one third of the total amount recovered. However, if you prevail at trial or are able to leverage a last-minute settlement, it’s likely you’ll recover far more than the insurance company would have offered in settlement absent a lawsuit.