Number 17 – Why do I even need an attorney?
One potential client came to my office to inquire about a case where the responsible (at-fault) insurance company had offered $100,000.00, but subsequently withdrew the offer and said the case was closed. Unfortunately, this was true. The potential client (claimant) had a viable claim and negotiated with the insurance company (without legal representation), and failed to appreciate a statute that was eminent, which precluded the claim after a certain time. There are many statutes, some as short as six (6) months, and even some provisions listing deadlines of 10 or 30 days.
My evaluation of the case was approximately $300,000.00 with a conservative approach. Had the claimant hired a reputable qualified attorney, the result was expected to be about $200,000.00 to the claimant after attorney’s fees (which are usually 1/3). The claimant in this case lost all the money because the statute had expired.
Most people ask about subrogation (repayment) of the medical bills or health insurance payments. The vast majority of our cases have been those which have little or no legal requirement for reimbursing those expenses. Therefore, the figure quoted above is actually the amount the claimant would have received (based on my training, education and experience).
A good attorney is worth his or her weight in gold. In this case, the client would have doubled his net recovery, without the jeopardy of owing subrogation claims, and perhaps more importantly having someone handle the entire case. The worry and time to pursue an injury or death claim, without knowing all the laws, are not worth it.
Other answers to frequently asked questions about whether you need an attorney are that a) you may be entitled to benefits to which you are unaware, b) if certain safeguards are not utilized, witnesses, evidence and your entire claim could be reduced or lost, and c) to ensure a fair and adequate recovery for your injury or loss, you should consult a reputable attorney.
David R. Moore