Whenever anybody asks me what they should do if they’re injured in an accident this is the advice I give.
Call a Lawyer.
There are time limitations, special forms to be filled out, legal paperwork that needs to be filed, and countless other reasons why this is the most important thing to do. In this article I want to discuss one reason in particular.
Imagine you’re in a car accident. It is a traumatic event. You’ve been hurt. You’re in pain. You’re worried about the damage to your car. You’re wondering if you’re going to be able to work.
The police come to the scene and ask you all sorts of questions about the accident. An ambulance appears and the EMT’s ask if you need to go to the hospital. Maybe there’s a passenger in your car and you’re worried about them. You’re wondering if the person in the other car is okay.
It’s a very disorienting experience and it is difficult to think straight.
Now imagine that on top of everything else somebody else shows up and starts talking to you. They tell you that they’re from an insurance company and they want to give you some money for the pain and suffering you’re going through. They tell you that they’ll give you some money right then and there. They’ll give you a check or even wire money directly into your bank account. All you have to do is sign a piece of paper that they happen to have with them. They seem very nice and sympathetic to what you’re going through.
They are not nice. They are not sympathetic.
They are worried about one thing and one thing only, doing whatever it takes to get you to sign that piece of paper. Because when you do, you are then forever barred from bringing a claim against them for your injuries. You’re stuck with only what they gave you which is usually something around $500.
I can’t tell you how many times somebody has come into my office telling me they went through a similar situation. It is usually a few days or weeks after the accident. They often tell me that they didn’t have any immediate pain, so they didn’t think they were hurt. But the brain often blocks or ignores pain signals as a defense mechanism. Many people first experience pain the following day or even a few days later. Now, they’re in a lot of pain. They’ve been to the doctor. They’re disabled from work. They have a serious injury that is going to take months to heal, or even worse, could result in serious, permanent injuries.
They could have a good case. Their case could be worth a lot of money. The money they receive from the settlement could help them ride out their disability, pay their bills, and get back on their feet without going into debt or declaring bankruptcy. It would help make them whole from the pain and suffering they have gone through.
But guess what. There is no case. They signed it all away for $500.
As an attorney, meeting a client in this situation is one of the most heartbreaking things we go through because there is usually nothing we can do about it except in some very rare circumstances. The signed document is very hard to get around.
The insurance companies are smart. They prey on people who might be less sophisticated about legal matters. Or people who are new to the system and have never been through it before. Or someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language. Or a young driver, 18 years old, who is petrified because they just got into an accident with their parent’s car.
The insurance companies take advantage of these people and anybody else they can get to sign the paper. It saves them thousands of dollars on most every case, maybe even more.
Do not. Do not. Do not ever sign anything without first talking to a lawyer.
When you call our law firm, we will talk to you immediately. We will speak to you on the phone and set up an in-person meeting in our office. You will not have to pay us anything for that free consultation. We will explain your case to you and let you know what your options are. We will answer all your questions. Once you have an understanding of how everything works, you can then decide whether you want to hire us to represent you.
It won’t take long and it’s free. Make sure you get everything you are entitled to.
Call a lawyer.