Should I Settle My Personal Injury Case Myself?

Picture of Kyle E. Wright
Kyle E. Wright
2/22/22 4:37 PM
Tags: Personal Injury

Video Summary:

Kyle Wright with another video on FAQs about Personal Injury law!

Quick Story: When I was in law school, I had a professor that told me:

"When you graduate and become an attorney, you'll find yourself at fancy cocktail parties where people will ask legal questions, which you'll know the answers to since you paid attention in class."

He was a funny teacher, but now that I am an attorney, I don't ever go to fancy cocktail parties. But what he was right about was that I do get asked legal questions all the time. And one question that I get asked repeatedly in my everyday life is:

"When someone is injured, why should they get an attorney? Can't they settle that themselves?"

Well, the answer is a simple NO, except in rare cases.

And I tell them that when you hire an injury attorney, it's typically taken in a fee-sharing agreement. The attorney is only getting paid by a percentage of what they recover for you. So it's always good to get one since you are not paying for anything at the initial consult.

If you have a case that I can't get more value than you can get on your own, I'll advise of that. I've had clients who come in after a fender bender where they weren't really injured, and they may get a couple of hundred dollars for pain, and I may not add value to that case. But for any case where there is any form of treatment, you need to hire an attorney, and here's why.

  1. The first reason is, I sue people, you don't, and insurance companies know it. They know I can file a complaint, that I can take a deposition, that I can file motions, etc. If you are a non-attorney, you likely can't do all of that. And if you can, probably not as well. So, right away, there is no threat of actually going to a trial when someone's doing it themselves, and if they do, they will be seriously outmatched against the defense's litigation attorney. So, right off the bat, the insurance company is not going to take you seriously.
  2. The second thing is that I have experience with knowing how to maximize your case. This is why you want to be sure you get a personal injury attorney and not just a random attorney. You want to make certain points in these cases to make the case more valuable. Those are the things that I have in my toolbelt that you, as a non-attorney, just don't have.
  3. The third thing is, typically, as soon as an attorney comes onto a case, the offers will go up. I have had three different instances in which someone has negotiated a case on their own, and they have called me to look over their settlement offer and advise if it's a good deal. So, I'll meet with them and look, and in each of these, I can confidently tell them, "No!" I would be getting you much more than that. Why are you settling for this amount? And they tell me, "Well, then I'd have to pay you, and that's a 1/3 of my settlement taken away." They are not wrong, but they do not realize that after I take my third, they are still significantly better off than if they had settled the case on their own.
In one case, a gentleman whose statute of limitations was about to run, meaning you have two years to either settle or file suit to preserve the claim. He was a week out, and he had fought with insurance to get a $2,200 offer for pain and suffering. Well, I looked at his case, and his bills weren't huge, but I told him that's too low. I could get him more, and if not, we can file suit since a jury would give him more. So, I called the insurance company, I looked over his bills, I made a quick summary, and about two days later, we had settled his case for about $10k. Now it wasn't a huge case. My fee was one-third for the time I spent on the case, so I got paid a little over $3k, but he took a little over $7k in his pocket. Two days prior, he was thrilled that he was walking away with $2,200!

That is a small example of how getting a personal injury attorney will instantly add value to a case. Also, when clients come to me after trying to settle on their own, they tend to have made missteps. First off, I would not let the client talk to the insurance company or the opposing counsel. They will take the statements you make and use them against you. They sometimes try to trick you.

Say you call in, and they ask, "How are you doing today?", You say, "Oh, I'm doing well." I've had insurance adjusters bring that up later: "When we talked, they said they were doing well." Well, they had a broken leg! That was just merely a greeting!

But those are the lengths the insurance company will go to make you look like you are trying to take advantage of them.

Hopefully, your biggest takeaway is that you should always get an attorney, even in a simple case. If you are injured in an accident, please, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney. At Ruck & Wright, we are happy to talk with you, free of charge, about your injury case.

Thank you, and be safe out there!
- Kyle Wright

Check out our comprehensive guide to Personal Injury!

Guide me through Personal Injury!

Maybe you have already been in an accident and already went through the steps in this guide... That is okay, and we are here to help you. Maybe you haven't been in an accident and are just wanting to prepare for that unfortunate scenario, check out our blog on how you should prepare for an accident! If you have been injured in an accident and have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Call our office today if you would like to speak to one of our attorneys.

Author: Kyle E. Wright     Published: 2/22/22 4:37 PM     Tags: Personal Injury


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