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Should I hire a lawyer before I am presented with a personal injury settlement from an auto accident last month?

Bellevue, WA |

We were involved in an auto accident in early October. The other driver was at fault and was cited on the scene. My car was totaled and I have accepted a loss settlement. Since the accident I have been receiving medical attention and physical therapy for a neck injury I suffered in the accident. I was assigned claim rep that is supposedly handling the settlement. He has been unresponsive to my calls requesting information about how I should be documenting missed work, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. I'm concerned that I'm going to overlook something and be taken advantage of. How do I calculate the settlement I am entitled to and protect myself in case my injuries resurface after the initial treatments I am currently receiving?

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Attorney answers 5


If you are asking the insurance company's employee how you should document your injuries you are asking for trouble. It would be like a drowning person asking the circling sharks below what to do to save themselves.

An experienced personal injury attorney will give you a free initial consultation. The insurance industry's own statistics indicate that once an attorney is retained, the value of any claim at least doubles. If your accident only occurred last month, it is much too early to even think about the factors that go into the final settlement of your bodily injury claim. Any release that you sign includes a full final release against even those future symptoms that are unknown at this time.

Finally, insurance company claims adjusters get a bonus for the amount under the full reserve value of a claim for which they can talk a person into settling.

Retain an experienced personal injury attorney who can review all of the facts of your case and then provide an overall evaluation and a strategy for obtaining fair settlement.

This answer is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided in an office consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies.


I agree with Mr. Myers and you will need an experinced lawyer to help you before doing anything else.

Good Luck


You should at the very least consult with an experienced Plaintiff's Attorney who can advise you of your legal rights.

It is my experience working on personal injury cases that we can in most cases obtain a larger recovery for the injured party and negotiate a lower repayment to the medical providers than an individual alone. In other words, we return value to the client in the form of a larger recovery to them.

Stanley Dale Radtke, Esq.
220 Montgomery Street, Suite 416
San Francisco, CA 94104


As the other have said, it is not an insurance adjusters job to "help" you present your claim. In fact, it often seems as if they try to make it as difficult as possible and to drag out compensating you for the longest time they can. Beware, once you accept the insurance companies money and sign a release form your case is over.

You really should see an attorney with experience in this area. See if you have a friend or relative who can refer to someone they have dealt with in the past. Seeing a lawyer in aTV ad does not necessarily mean they handle these cases well. Some of these firms are mills that mass produce claims and settle them cheaply and quickly. Some are paid advertising referrals services. E.g., Robert Vaughn does not try lawsuits. He has probably never met the person he is promoting. Ask the lawyer you are thinking of engaging how many case he has actually taken to trial.

The best referal comes from a previously satisfied customer.The next best source is a bar association referral panel.


Your situtation and your frustration with the system are, unfortunately, quite common. It sounds like you were involved in a serious accident and have significant injuries. It is important to fully understand your rights and how extensive your injuries are before you even consider trying to settle your claim. I offer a free initial consulation if you would like to discuss your situation in more detail. You may also find my site regarding personal injury claims in Washington informative. The link is below. Thanks, and good luck to you.