Put simply you need to hire an attorney. Most lawyer fees are actually closer to 33% (that is what my office usually charges). While you may not want to give that type of money to an attorney the truth is that an attorney can usually make a heck of a lot more money for you than you can make on your own. In my experience attorneys almost always more than pay for themselves as the insurance company will try to screw you over if they see you don't have one.
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I'm sorry for your loss. In answer to your question, Michigan does not allow juries to know about insurance policy limits, or liability insurance at all, of the driver/owner of the vehicle that killed your cousin (because we have an owners liability statute that makes both potential defendants in any lawsuit. Also, lawyers in Michigan, unlike some other states such as Missouri, cannot charge a contingent fee of more than 33 1/3%. There are a few other problems with your proposed scenario, such as the $500,000 offer being made - remember, as with everything else in life, the first offer is normally not the last offer, and there are many different times during the process when a case may settle. Very few cases ever go to trial. I would estimate less than 3% of all personal injury lawsuits go to verdict. Finally, even though our bad faith law in Michigan is certainly not as strong as it is in most other states, we do have bad faith law here, and if there is a $1 million dollar policy limit on a death case, this certainly raises the strong possibility of bad faith in any subsequent lawsuit filed on behalf of your cousin's estate where policy limits are not tendered. By way of example, two weeks ago, my own law firm was fortunate enough to recover 2 jury verdicts in the same week that were both over policy limits, one a $2.55 million on a $2,000,000 policy limit and the second against State Farm for $1.5 million on a 0 offerhttp://www.michiganautolaw.com/auto-lawyers-blog/2012/11/30/low-vehicle-damage-car-accident-in-macomb-county-michigan-gets-1-5-million-jury-verdict/
and we will be pursing bad faith claims in both cases, which should add a huge amount of additional recovery for our clients in both of these cases. My point with all of this is that there are so many moving parts that your scenario really doesn't cover. But if you want my opinion, you can certainly do a lot better than that.
The max attorney fee in Michigan is 33 1/3% after repayment of costs. A company which insured may have a quite different policy than for on the job liability. That's why you cannot trust the insurer until you see the real policy or policies involved.
It is very likely a good lawyer can negotiate a multi-million-dollar settlement without the need to go to trial, as my firm does it all the time. The policy limits makes is immaterial, as the company is on the hook for this. Retain a lawyer with a low contingency fee, less than 30%, so you are left with the lion's share of the settlement, not the lawyer.
Only 29% Contingency Fee! Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com
First of all, you cannot settle that case since it is a wrongful death case without approval of the Court. To settle the case two things must happen. First, you need to have a personal representative appointed for the Estate and second you have to negotiate a settlement and have a Judge approve the settlement. The insurance company is not required to provide the policy limits to you pre-litigation. You need to file suit and send interrogatories to the defendant, if they will not provide the policy limit information. Additionally, because this is a company, they may have secondary insurance known as an umbrella policy. Often times they try to not disclose the umbrella policy to save money. It would be important to hire an attorney to help in this case. Our offices have been doing only auto accident cases for almost 30 years and we charge a 1/3 fee in MIchigan. This also includes getting the personal representative appointed, filing suit and getting the case settled for top dollar. Even though $500,000.00 seems like al lot there is probably more if you hire a good lawyer.We are close to Livonia and would certainly offer a free consultation to assist you and the family in this matter. You can click www.seriousautoaccident.com to go to our site. Good luck to you and I hope you the best.
You should consult an attorney in your State at once. This response does not constitute legal advise outside the State Of Michigan and is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship with our offices. It is for informational use only of the general laws in the State of Michigan, only. To retain our offices, you need to sign a contingency contract with us. We do offer free consultations and we can refer clients to lawyers in your State if you call us. Visit our webpage and tell us what you think. www.schnitzerlaw.net
Regardless of whether you hire a lawyer on a contingency basis it would be worth your while to consult with an attorney regarding the value of the case and all other legal issues associated with the handling and settling of a case.
Always consult an attorney IMMEDIATELY as there are time limitations on filing a lawsuit.
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