What is the benefit of hiring a personal injury attorney? There are many!
Why are you making money off of my pain?
Isn’t that what many new personal injury clients are thinking but afraid to ask? Why does the lawyer get 33% of the settlement when they never had any pain and suffering? Good question!
If you’ve read our blog, you know that half of the personal injury battle isn’t just getting better and getting bills paid. Often, it’s an all out battle for finding fault, arguments about “over treating” or “under treating,” endless demands of adjusters, and making arrangements with providers to hold medical bills so you aren’t sent to collections. If you were behind the scenes, you’d probably say it looks like each side is strategically planning for war—and, in a way, they are. On other days, you might think it looks more like a circus—and, sometimes, it is. The benefit of hiring an attorney is that you can legitimately say, “not my monkeys, not my circus!” You get to work on healing while your attorney becomes the ring master.
However, let’s suppose you aren’t troubled by all of the papers, the demands, the lien letters, the subrogation agreements, the mounting medical bills, the damaged vehicle, or lost wages. You feel confident that you can handle difficult situations and difficult people. You certainly don’t think an attorney could earn a third of what your settlement is worth.
Well, there are still legal landmines that you are going to face. It could be something as simple as trying to get your medical bills out of collection or get the medical lien off of your record. Do you know how to file the proper paperwork? Remember this headache and paperwork is separate from your case. Your insurance company won’t be helping with this.
Let’s also assume you know how to perfectly answer the adjuster’s questions so you aren’t snarled in the “Well, I know your doctor told you to take an ibuprofen and check back in two weeks but, if you were really injured, you wouldn’t listen to your doctor. That is a two week “gap” in treatment so we are going to assume you weren’t injured at all.” You might pass all of those tests of patience.
There is one more factor you should consider. You are not an attorney—and that matters. Adjusters will not treat you the same nor will they offer you what your case is worth. They know that you don’t know what your case is worth.
In 1999, the Insurance Research Council (organization of insurance companies), commissioned a study to look at settlements for injured people who handled their case on their own and those who hired an attorney. The study showed that, on average, people who hired an attorney were paid three and a half times the amount of those who handled the case alone. Simple math tells you that the 33% fee to the attorney still puts the average injured person money ahead.
Don’t let the insurance companies trick you into settling quick and cheap.
Let’s do a quick example. Suppose, after all of your hard work, you recovered $20,000 for your car accident. Good job! However, your neighbor, who had the same injuries and accident, hired an attorney and was offered $70,000 ($20,000 x the 3.5 increase the Insurance Council found among those with attorneys). He has to pay his attorney 33% for the work so his settlement is reduced to $46,900 ($70,000 - 23,100). Based on the insurance companies own report, your neighbor would have recovered $26,900 more than you and never dealt with the “circus” to receive his settlement.
So, to answer the above question, I would say that attorneys are not trying to make money from your pain and suffering. In fact, any respectable personal injury attorney is trying to get a recovery that alleviates your suffering and allows complete healing. The goal is that the “legal headache” is the attorneys problem and that you receive what you actually deserve (not what the insurance company thinks it can get away with) such that the 33% fee makes sense by the numbers as well as emotionally and physically.
If you are in the unfortunate position of having to deal with the aftermath of an auto accident, the best plan is to just give us a call. The attorneys at Altman & Witt have been dealing with motor vehicle accidents in Western Washington for more than 13 years. Get the compensation that you deserve. We always seek to get the maximum recovery for your injury. We handle personal injury cases in Kitsap and Pierce Counties and all the municipalities therein. Call our offices in Tacoma (253) 761-1000 or Bremerton (360) 377-7000, for afree consultation, or click here for our online contact form.
-Robert via Avvo, Seattle, WA,