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Six Big Alabama Personal Injury Myths

Huntsville Car Accident LawyerI talk to accident victims almost every day. Today, I thought I would quickly address six big Alabama personal injury myths. These are myths I frequently hear from callers following an Alabama car accident. So, let’s look at these big myths.

Myth 1:  If You Write A Reasonable Letter To The Insurance Company, You Will Get A Reasonable Offer.

I hear this all the time. It’s wishful thinking. Everyone hopes the insurance company is reasonable. But, insurance companies want to pay you as little as possible. Just because you are nice or reasonable, it does not mean the insurance company will be. Over my two decades of handling Alabama accident and injury cases, I’ve met insurance adjusters who were friendly and reasonable. I’ve also met plenty of adjusters who definitely were neither friendly nor reasonable. I’ve met plenty of adjusters who deny, delay, or undervalue claims with little or no reason. You simply cannot expect the insurance adjuster to be reasonable. You certainly should not expect to write a letter and get the desired result.

If you suffered a serious injury, you need to start by focusing on needed medical care. That’s the most important thing you can do. Then, you need an attorney who knows how to best research and present the evidence related to your injury.

Trust me, you also need a lawyer who is willing to go to court. The insurance company knows your lawyer’s track record. The insurance company knows when you have a billboard lawyer who doesn’t go to court. The insurance company knows when you have a billboard lawyer who sends every client to the same medical provider just to run up the bills. The insurance company will place much less value on your claim in these situations.

The insurance company also knows when you have a lawyer who really practices in another area of law like DUI defense but took your case just hoping for a quick settlement. Yes, plenty of lawyers advertise for cases outside their expertise or experience. But, you are not getting the best and the insurance company knows it.

On the other side, the insurance company also knows when you have a lawyer who will file your case and prepare for trial. Insurance companies factor this into their offers. Our firm does one type of case only — Alabama Personal Injury. We want to spend all our time studying and preparing these cases for their maximum potential recovery. If you are hurt in a car crash, constant preparation and singular focus lead to better settlements and better trials. That’s why we do nothing else but personal injury.

Myth 2:  All Lawyers Who Advertise For Personal Injury Cases Have The Same Ability, Tools, Experience And Dedication To Handle Your Case

Unfortunately, in the legal world, lawyers can advertise for any type of case. If a lawyer wants to sign clients in car crash cases, he or she can simply start advertising for them. For example, in Huntsville, one group of DUI lawyers advertises that they handle everything from trusts, to probate, to divorces, to personal injury. Do they really? Their website has a really small, fine print disclaimer that actually says they take personal injury cases to refer them to other lawyers. They want the case for a referral fee. I think that’s a bad deal for consumers. They know it’s bad for consumers — Otherwise, that disclaimer would be in bold so everyone noticed and read it!

If you are injured in Alabama, research your attorney options. Talk to people you trust. Ask questions. Don’t fall for advertising claims. Any attorney can smile at a camera and say they will take your case. Your choice of injury attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.

Myth 3:  All Lawyers Charge The Same Fees In Injury Cases

Most personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee. That is, you only pay if the lawyer is successful in settling or winning your case. Contingency fees are standard among lawyers handling injury and damage claims.

While contingency fees are standard, you really need to look at specific details in the attorney fee agreement. Unfortunately, some lawyers add clauses to their contracts that impact fees and costs. Recently, I read the contract of another personal injury lawyer that contains add-on “administrative fee” charges. What’s that? It’s a way to charge extra and it’s wrong. Lawyers should not add extra “fees” or add limits on your control of the case.

Some billboard lawyers have even included terms giving them permission to settle your case (when the decision should be yours). Let me say that again — It’s your case and you should make the decision to settle. Of course, you hired a lawyer who should provide advice and recommendations. But, advice is different than control. Other billboard lawyers have included terms allowing them to pay whatever their chosen medical provider wants. Again, you should be the one making important medical and payment decisions in consultation with a lawyer who is fair and honest. It’s the details that matter.

If you need to hire a personal injury lawyer, look closely at the agreement. Ask questions. Make sure you are comfortable before you sign. You need to hire a lawyer who you trust to work for your best interest.

Myth 4:  If A Lawyer Refers You To A Specific Doctor Or Chiropractor, It’s Always A Good Idea

This is a growing problem. Here is how it often works — The lawyer (usually a billboard lawyer) has a deal with a specific chiropractor. When anyone hires that lawyer, he promptly refers the person to his chiropractor. That chiropractor then runs-up the charges. It’s a bad deal for you!

First, the insurance company knows the reputation of both the lawyer and chiropractor. The insurance company knows this provider inflates his charges and is unlikely to go to court. How do you think the insurance company evaluates medical care and charges from a provider known to inflate bills while also refusing to testify in court? The insurance company offers less, much less.

Second, the lawyer has no incentive to negotiate the chiro bills back down. After all, the lawyer and chiropractor have a long-term business relationship which they both value more than your care. The injured person gets a smaller settlement and pays an exorbitant portion of it to the lawyer/chiropractor team. It’s a bad, bad deal for the injured victim. I think it’s wrong. I heard from hundreds of accident victims upset when they discovered the truth. But, by then, it’s usually too late to help. What can you do? Ask questions before you simply agree to a medical referral. Talk with the lawyer about what treatment is really needed, what coverage is available, what is the best way to present your damages, and what will be done to control the costs of your case.

If you are hurt, you need medical care. Some clients have access to health insurance and doctors while other clients do not. I get it. I regularly provide advice and answers to my clients who need treatment. That’s an important part of the job. It’s also important the lawyer provide honest and open information that is always in the best interest of the client! Advice and answers should ALWAYS put the client’s interests first and foremost!

Myth 5:  When The Insurance Company Asks For A Recorded Statement, You Must Give One

Insurance adjusters frequently ask accident claimants to provide a recorded statement. Keep in mind adjusters are skilled at asking questions in ways to minimize claims. You don’t have to give a recorded statement to the adjuster. In most situations, you should not.

Myth 6:  A Simple Formula Determines The Settlement Value Of Injury Cases

This is something I hear a lot. The caller tells me their medical bills are a specific amount and that they should get a settlement of two times or three times that amount. The person heard there is a specific formula or multiplier. I’ve heard many different formulas given be different callers. They are all wrong because no simple formula can determine the unique damages suffered by any individual.

A lot of factors go into the value of a personal injury case. Many factors should be considered beyond simple medical charges. If you suffered a serious injury, talk to a lawyer who is experienced in handling personal injury claims through the entire claim and trial process. Talk to a lawyer who valued your individual story and your unique damages. There is no simple formula.

If you suffered a serious personal injury, don’t believe the myths. Consult an experienced trial counsel with a track record of preparing Alabama personal injury cases for settlement and trial. Your case is personal. Your case is unique. You need to be able to trust that your attorney is working for your maximum benefit.