Should I get a personal injury attorney or try to negotiate with Geico myself?

My husband and son were hit by a 17 year old girl making a left turn. She was cited by the police and is at fault. My husband suffered sever injuries, resulting in removal of his spleen, a collapsed lung, internal bleeding, blood transfusion and is going on his 6th day in the hospital with tubes in his body. I consider this a severe injury and would like some advice as to how proceed with Geico - the other drivers insurance company.

Phoenix, AZ -

Attorney Answers (22)

John M Curtin

John M Curtin

Personal Injury Lawyer - Phoenix, AZ
Answered

I would strongly suggest that you consult an attorney. In a significant injury case there are many issues that an attorney can help you with -- to maximize the outcome, make sure that all available insurance coverages are utilized, and that any medical liens or bills paid by you are minimized. The insurance adjuster's job is to pay as little as possible on the claim. If you wish to discuss this further, my office handles these types of claims on a contingent fee basis and could provide some guidance.

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Leigh Anne Timiney

Leigh Anne Timiney

Personal Injury Lawyer - Phoenix, AZ
Answered

I am very sorry to hear about your husband's accident and injuries. I hope he will recover well. I strongly suggest you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your husband has significant injuries and attempting to work with Geico on your own will prove to be difficult, time consuming and frustrating. Keep in mind, the insurance company is not on your side. Their main goal is to find a way to compensate your husband as little as possible for the injuries he has suffered. Insurance companies also tend to take advantage of unrepresented injuried parties. Please, do not give any statements to Geico until you contact a personal injury attorney. I am happy to help further if you need. Good luck to you.

Bruce M Squire

Bruce M Squire

Personal Injury Lawyer - Tempe, AZ
Answered

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. That is a serious injury. DO NOT give the insurance company a recorded statement. DO NOT sign their forms that allow them to get your husband and son's medical records. DO call an experienced lawyer that handles these types of cases and get help quickly.

This answer is for general education purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship nor is it... more
Kevin M Garrison

Kevin M Garrison

Personal Injury Lawyer - Peoria, AZ
Answered

Sorry to hear about your situation. I think that you absolutely need an attorney on this one. On a small case you may be able to handle it on your own and may not need an attorney. In this situation an attorney will likely prove to be invaluable. There will be much more than just negotiating with Geico. Very likely you will be looking at a lien filed by the hospital and depending on your insurance situation you may have a health insurance company seeking reimbursement for medical expenses paid. It is unlikely that the girl who caused the accident will have adequate insurance to cover the extensive injuries to your husband and you will therefore want to see what assets or other potential insurance exists. You will want to look at your own policy to see if you have underinsured motorist coverage. You will want to see if there was any other person or entity responsible for the crash. Perhaps a bad road design or a vehicle that was not crashworthy. A lawyer can assist you with all of these things and give you the piece of mind of knowing that it is being done right with no stone unturned. This allows you to then concentrate on your husband and his health.

Mark John Caruso

Mark John Caruso

Personal Injury Lawyer - Albuquerque, NM
Answered

At least you should consult with an attorney. Personally, I believe that you should hire an attorney on a contingency fee basis so there is no money out of your pocket

The AVVO response or other communication by Caruso Law Offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.... more
James J D Campbell

James J D Campbell

Personal Injury Lawyer - Tucson, AZ
Answered

You absolutely should retain an attorney to represent you. Insurance companies are in the business of low balling non represented persons like yourself. They have all the power and experience, and you have likely never done this before. You very much need help to understand what is reasonable compensation for your injuries and to negotiate the settlement you deserve. Moreover, you will likely need help to figure out how to handle and negotiate with the hospitals and health insurance companies that are going to try to get a big slice of your settlement. Don't walk, run, to an attorney.

Mark A Kille

Mark A Kille

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Prescott Valley, AZ
Answered

I would strongly suggest you NOT negotiate a claim of this significance without an attorney. Geico is notorious for trying to settle for pennies on the dollar, especially in more serious injury claims. Make an appointment with an injury attorney who can provide you with all your legal options available. I personally offer a free consultation, and would be happy to meet with you for further discussion.

The above information is the opinion of the author only, and should not be interpreted as legal advise. Should... more
Manuel Alzamora Juarez

Manuel Alzamora Juarez

Personal Injury Lawyer - Berkeley, CA
Answered

Get your husband treated and then hire a PI lawyer to advice you on this case. This is a serious case and you need all the help you can get. Best of luck.

This answer is provided by California Accident Attorney Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., 510-206-4492. Abogado de... more
C. Andrew Campbell

C. Andrew Campbell

Personal Injury Lawyer - Mesa, AZ
Answered

You should contact an experienced personal injury attorney if for no other reason to sit down with an attorney and have them explain the process to you regarding injury claims. GEICO has an incentive to resolve the matter for as little as they can, please keep that in mind in your discussions with GEICO. Generally speaking in severe injury cases it is almost never a bad idea to get advice from an attorney.

Good luck to you and if you would like I am available for consultation at (480) 838-9000.

This information is provided for general informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. An attorney... more
Sean P. Wickens

Sean P. Wickens

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Tacoma, WA
Answered

Given the severity of your husband's injuries, this seems like a case where you will need to hire an attorney.

Benjamin P. Cloward

Benjamin P. Cloward

Personal Injury Lawyer - Las Vegas, NV
Answered

I agree with all of the other posters. Please, please contact an experienced attorney to make sure your rights are protected. It sounds like your husband's injuries were extensive and are ongoing. I am very sorry to hear about this unfortunate event.

I wish your husband a speedy recovery.

Daniel Nelson Deasy

Daniel Nelson Deasy

Personal Injury Lawyer - Centennial, CO
Answered

Oh my goodness -- I am so sorry to read of this. I can't imagine what you're dealing with. Most importantly, my prayers are with you and your family -- I hope they are answered for you in the best way possible!

That said, you need some help. While GEICO is more than happy to negotiate with you on your own, a personal injury attorney will make sure that any and all possible avenues of recovery are made available to you. Have you notified your own insurance carrier about this crash? If not, make sure you make that call tomorrow. In the meantime, if you do hire an attorney, you can rest assured that such a professional will let you focus on what's really important -- helping your husband recover.

All my best,

Dan

In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship.... more
Scott L Greeves

Scott L Greeves

Personal Injury Lawyer - Tempe, AZ
Answered

The insurance company deals with these types of cases every day. You will do it once in your lifetime. You are at a severe disadvantage. Contact a lawyer.

The AZ lawyers who have responded to you here on AVVO, including me, can all probably help you. I offer a free consult to evaluate your situation. So, call a few of us and go with whomever you're most comfortable.

Mr. Greeves is licensed to practice law throughout the state of Arizona. His office is in Tempe. His phone number is 480-422-1850 or his email address is scott@grattorneys.com. His website is www.grattorneys.com.

Mr. Greeves is licensed to practice law throughout the state of Arizona. His office is in Tempe. He is authorized... more
Jules August Grandjean II

Jules August Grandjean II

Personal Injury Lawyer - Scottsdale, AZ
Answered

It appears you have a lot of information already. A few things I would like to point out briefly to hopefully help you:

First, though you may have been informed of this at the hospital, if your husband has certain serious injuries you may qualify him for AHCCCS (state insurance) in allaying some of the cost of his care. You should be able to apply right at the hospital, and might ask the patient liaison for more information on how to apply. Your husband's medical bills are likely to be staggering.

Also, we should let you know that in Arizona, a party cited in a traffic incident is not necessarily the party at fault in a civil matter or personal injury claim. This sounds impossible to most people, but believe it or not the citation the other driver got will not even be admissible at a trial as evidence of her fault. Oddly, in our state fault can be placed on anyone, including even the one who has the right-of-way. If GEICO selects this approach with you, they will reduce any offer to you by the percentage of fault they attribute to your vehicle. Often, you will see this show up in a ridiculous two-sentence letter, which reads something like: "Our investigation shows your vehicle was speeding at the time of the collision. Therefore, we believe our insured is only 50% at fault for this loss." You should be aware that Arizona also allows you to be assessed fault for failing to wear a seatbelt.

Next, you will likely not know the insurance policy limits of the other driver, and GEICO will rarely disclose this unless their driver is formally sued. The limits should have some importance on how you choose to negotiate, and how you choose to fund your claim if the bills or claim value exceeds them (for example, using the other driver's personal assets or your UIM insurance, if you have it). Most attorneys have techniques to discern the policy limits before initiating litigation. They're also more apt to catch GEICO giving with one hand (say tendering the limits for your husband), while taking away with the other (undervaluing your daughter's claim).

Most personal injury attorneys are familiar with lien statutes, and can help reduce the outstanding medical bills that would otherwise consume your settlement. You should be aware that even if you have insurance paying your family's bills, the medical providers can lien the funds you recover from GEICO and use them to satisfy the difference between their billed medical charges and the contract rate your health insurance paid toward them. If you're in network, this can be a big amount. An unfortunate reality in your husband's case is that the other driver may not have enough insurance to cover even the bills. This is another reason to learn the policy limits and develop a strategy toward negotiating.

If you have to sue for her insurance, GEICO will refer their case to the Law Office of Robert Stanewich, their in-house firm here in Phoenix, assuming the accident was here. We deal with that office and their 5 attorneys regularly, and can tell you the latest policy from GEICO is a "scorched earth" approach - essentially offering about 20% under value, then forcing you to arbitration or trial if you don't like the offer. This approach does lessen a bit if the ratio of medical bills to policy limits is at least .85, in my experience.

Your family's injuries sound serious and their claims sound serious. Your family's health is important, including any future care they may need. You probably have that concern, and a lot of other things running through your mind right now. When time allows, I hope you can spend a few minutes getting some professional advice about their claims. If you have further questions at any time, please feel free to ask.

Best wishes,

Jules

This is printed in response to a general question, without knowing the specifics of your case. If you are in a... more
Christian K. Lassen II

Christian K. Lassen II

Personal Injury Lawyer - Philadelphia, PA
Answered

Insurance companies typically pay unrepresented parties 11% of what a lawyer would get them. I'll let you do the math.

Robert F Clarke

Robert F Clarke

Personal Injury Lawyer - Phoenix, AZ
Answered

You should retain an experienced personal injury and not deal with GEICO on your own. Your loved ones will be best served with competent representation. GEICO is not on your side and will look for every advantage over you. Don't give it that chance.

Clarke Law Offices is a Phoenix based firm for Bankruptcy, Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Professional... more
Robert Bruce Kopelson

Robert Bruce Kopelson

Personal Injury Lawyer - San Jose, CA
Answered

Your husband has a serious injury case, and your child has a case as well. I dont practice in Az, but you may have your own claim for loss of consortium. You need to get help from a good injury lawyer for you entire family. Do it immediately and do not talk to geico. Even if Geico has a small policy and is willing to tender, there is investigation needed to see if anyone else could be liable, if the deft has assets above ins coverage, etc.

Paul E Knost

Paul E Knost

Personal Injury Lawyer - Tolleson, AZ
Answered

All of my esteemed colleagues have given you great answers. Large insurance companies with global multi-million dollar advertising campaigns have one basic agenda: maximize profits and minimize losses. They do this with very effective advertising, by which they essentially brainwash the public into trusting them. They do this with gimmicks like cute little animated lizards with a smart English accent, constantly pounding the message into our heads that they are a happy and wonderful company and they will save you money by charging you lower rates if you would just switch to them. Others use ridiculous semi-sarcastic hipster sales women with silly little one-liner tips that always seem to prove in 25 seconds or less why her company is better than those guys with the standard suit and ties (who oddly seem to look a little bit like the politicians and lobbyists working for their company behind the scenes). Ah, we humans are a bunch of lemmings. None of us are immune to the propaganda! None of us!

But, does the hipster girl wielding the curt remarks, or the cute little animated lizard ever tell us HOW their companies are able to charge everyone lower rates? Of course not! Perhaps they would need an ugly and mean looking crocodile for that job. But the crocodile and his minions are behind the scenes, out stalking the the urban swamps, eagerly chomping away at injured victims' valid claims--leaving those poor injured victims with a few scraps if they are lucky. They call it "adjusting the claim" in polite company. Those crocodiles are always willing to talk to you. With a wink and a smile, they'll give you a few morsels, gobble up the rest of what is rightfully yours, and leave you stunned and thinking to yourself: "but he looked so cute and charming on TV!"

That's why you need a lawyer, a/k/a crocodile hunter!

Ever wonder why big corporations are always pushing their agenda of "tort reform" and making big monetary donations to certain politicians who are always talking about "trial lawyers" with bitter disdain? It's because they want to take away your right to be compensated in our centuries old civil justice system for wrongs that were done to you, by them (or the people whom they are "insuring" for those LOW LOW rates). They want those crocodiles to rule the swamps unchallenged and unchecked, allowed to devour whatever they want. Sure, they put on a friendly face for us on the billboards and television/radio advertisements, when they are telling you to sign up to pay them monthly insurance premiums. But when you are the victim one of their insured people, and they are responsible for making you whole again.... that's when you're going to see those sharp teeth and powerful jaws in action. That's how they keep those rates low: by keeping as much of the money as possible when it comes time to compensate a person who is severely injured, such as your husband and your son. You said that you consider this a severe injury. I think you are probably correct. Their medical records will show all of that. This could possibly have lasting or permanent effects on your family. Don't feel bad about getting a lawyer to help you safeguard your LEGAL RIGHTS.

I recommend that you start with the first few lawyers to answer this question, and call at least three for consultations. Talk to NO ONE else about the case. After consulting with at least three lawyers, hire one of them on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not pay anything up front. The lawyer simply takes a percentage out of the total settlement or judgment at the end. In a case like this, the money you spend on your lawyer may very easily be far less than the money you will be deprived of if you go into those crocodile infested swamps alone.

God bless you and your family. I pray for your husband and son's speedy and full recovery. That is far far better than any settlement! Just make sure you are not saddled with the huge bills!

NONE OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED HERE IS MEANT AS, NOR INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THE LAW IS CONSTANTLY... more
Glenn Tadaomi Honda Jr.

Glenn Tadaomi Honda Jr.

Personal Injury Lawyer - Honolulu, HI
Answered

I agree with the other posters. You need to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. GEICO can be very difficult to deal with. They generally have "staff counsel" so they are not worried about litigation costs. My personal experience has been that they often take positions which can be challenging even for attorneys. Because the injuries are severe, please also take stock of your personal UIM (underinsured motorists) coverage. Best of luck to you, and, best wishes for the recovery of your loved ones.

James Lawrence Magazine

James Lawrence Magazine

Personal Injury Lawyer - New Port Richey, FL
Answered

i strongly suggest that you retain counsel your husband has serious injuries and i am not sure that geico may treat you fairly. furthermore you need to get advice on the bad faith laws in your state, Geico may have already committed bad faith. furthermore you need to look at your own auto policy to see if you carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and you need advice on how that coverage applies in your state

Daryl L. Derryberry

Daryl L. Derryberry

Personal Injury Lawyer - Tyler, TX
Answered

I am sorry for your loss. You have been provided with good advice by the attorneys who previously answered this question. I am sorry you find yourself in this position. Please immediately contact a personal injury specialist. insurance companies do not care about you or your family. GEICO only cares about paying your husband as little money as possible. The adjuster is experienced in making you think your husband's claim is less valuable than it really is. Additionally, you want to place your auto insurance on notice of an underinsurance claim in case the at fault 17 year old does not have sufficient liability coverage to properly compensate your husband for his injuries and damages. You will also want to check to see if there is any personal injury protection (PIP) available to your husband under your insurance policy. I cannot stress strongly enough that you hire a personal injury attorney immediately. Thanks and good luck.

By providing this legal analysis of the issue presented, no attorney/client relationship is being formed.... more
Paul Hilmon Cannon

Paul Hilmon Cannon

Personal Injury Lawyer - Houston, TX
Answered

You need to get a lawyer involved. There is a good chance Geico will not have enough coverage in a case of that magnitude and you will need help flushing out any other policies and/or liable parties.

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