29 y.o. son injured when a drunk (Bal .242), revoked license, uninsured driver crossed center line on hwy. Son taken by ambulance, xrays, glass removed from face, head and arm. No broken bones. Car totalled. Almost 3 months later, he is still seeing chiropractor for neck, back and shoulder pain. We have photos of cars, accident scene, son's face immediately after treatment. Two scars - one facial, one on arm. Son was unemployed, but searching for job at time of accident. Cannot lift without pain, which effects job search. Can we settle on our own, or would attorney help write demand letter?
If your Uninsured Motorist policy limits are $25,000 your son may not need an attorney for the carrier to tender the Uninsured Motorist limits. However, there are many ways your son can be penny wise and pound foolish for not hiring an attorney since a good personal injury attorney can make all the difference in the world in regards to what ends up in your son's pocket escpecially if your health insurance company wants reimbursement for the medical bills it may have paid.
If your UM limits exceed $25,000, he should hire an attorney since he is in an adversarial relationship (he wants money, the carrier wants to get away with giving out as little as possible) with the carrier and it is no different if the carrier he was dealing with was the carrier for the responsible party.
Unfortunatley many victims of accidents think that because it is their own carrier and they have been paying premiums for years, they will get a fair shake. Nothing could be further from the truth. Insurance companies are in business to make money not to be nice. Your agent who sold you policy and the adjuster handling the claim have two completely different roles. The sooner a victim realizes that, the better.
I have had too many people call me over the last 28 years and inform me of the piddly settlement they got from their own carrier which obligagted them to sign a release not knowing they just gave up thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars ( and in a couple of cases hundreds of thousands of dollars) because the "adjuster really seemed to like me". By the time they call me it is too late.
In your son's case he broke no bones but is still having pain. Fairly soon his carrrier is going to start questioning his treatment and declare that his treatment should have concluded long ago and that any pain he is stiil suffering is only because he wants money. Your son, at a minimum, should consult with a good Trial Attorney who belongs to the Consumer Attorneys of California or the American Association of Justice, sooner than later.
My firm normally does not represent people injured in accidents if they have attempted to represent themselves for any significant period of time since my experience is that they have usually signed something or said something of have done something to critically impact the claim in a negative way.
It costs no money to consult with a good attorney, so why not do that. Hopefully this helps you with your situation. I hope your son has a strong recovery and that he gets fair compensation for all his past, present and future suffering.
Russell & Lazarus APC
You need to contact an attorney. First, you need an attorney to make certain that your insurer acts in good faith in handling the claim. Second, the insurance laws changed late last year so your available coverage may depend on the date of the accident. Third, an attorney will be able to guide you with regard to treatment, timing and valuation of the claim.
I would strongly suggest retaining a lawyer. I would also be very hesitant to resolve this claim without determining whether your son's injuries are permanent in nature (which is often done closer to one year from the date of the accident). Insurance companies always want to pay as little as possible. An attorney can maximize your recovery and minimize your liabiity to any subrogated health insurance carriers. This is your son's only opportunity to receive compensation for his injuries. Whatever you do, please proceed with caution and do so with your eyes wide.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or any of the qualified personal injury lawyers at The Previant Law Firm. (www.previant.com)
While your insurance company may have a duty to deal with you in "good faith," the reality is that they will be just as critical of a claim made by their own insured as if it were coming from a third-party. Given the scarring and on-going pain and treatment 3 months post-accident, this is certainly a claim that would benefit from the handling of an attorney. Insurance adjusters are trained to limit exposure and suggest to claimants that they don't need an attorney. Don't be fooled and don't expect them to advise you of all the types of compensation your son may be entitled to. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner you can make sure your son's rights are protected.
I agree with all of my fellow attorneys who have advised you not to attempt this without an attorney's counsel. Your son has no basis of comparison as to what would be a fair offer. Having said that much, I will tell you that I never advise a client to settle until the client has reached a medical end point because and it doesn't sound like your son has. He has no idea how much further treatment he will require, whether he will fully recover, or whether he might need surgical intervention until he reaches a medical end point. A lawyer will make sure he doesn't settle before the case is ripe for settlement. Good luck!
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