Hidden in this question is the real question: Can my lawyer get more money than I can get if I represent myself? Or more specifically, can my lawyer get more than 33% more than I can get on my own?
So let’s talk about two reasons your attorney can almost always get you more money on your injury case than what you can get on your own:
- If you do not have a law license, the insurance adjuster does not believe that you can do anything about a bad settlement offer. In all honesty, if you are not happy with the settlement offer, there is really nothing you can practically do about it. The insurance adjuster knows this fact, and this fact makes it very unlikely you’ll be offered a fair settlement (and it makes it very unlikely that the insurance adjuster will negotiate with you fairly). While usually sounding pleasant with you, the insurance adjuster’s thought process is something like “what are you going to do about this offer? File a lawsuit?” To be honest, the insurance adjuster’s skepticism is justified. If you chose to try to file a lawsuit, you’d likely file it against the wrong defendant (many people mistakenly believe you are supposed to sue the insurance company), or file it in the wrong county (many people mistakenly believe you file your lawsuit in the county where the accident happened) or fail to file all the proper forms. Because the insurance adjuster knows there isn’t really anything you can do about their settlement offer, the adjuster will evaluate your case to be worth less and will be less willing to negotiate upwards from their initially low evaluation of your case.
- If you’ve never been through a similar case (or if you’ve been through it once), then how do you even know what a fair settlement offer is? Are you relying on what the insurance adjuster tells you? Or, sometimes worse, are you relying on what friends/family members/neighbors/co-workers/etc. are telling you (who had dissimilar accidents, dissimilar injuries, different insurance companies, and oftentimes experiences that happened years ago when the laws were different)? What is the method you are using to make sure that you are not being taken advantage of? Google? A self-help book at the public library. Unless you’ve seen hundreds of cases like yours, you do not honestly know if you are being taken advantage of by the insurance company or if you are getting a great settlement. If you don’t know what your case is worth, then how can you argue and articulate to the insurance adjuster how much money you deserve and why you deserve that amount of money?