Many people try to negotiate and settle their own accident claims under a simple premise: “I’m a smart enough man/woman and I’m a good negotiator so I should be able to do this on my own without a lawyer.” And it is not just victims that fall into this trap. This same logic trips up lawyers who try to handle accident cases without the knowledge and experience to maximize the value of the case.
You may be very smart and you may be an excellent negotiator. But the problem with this thesis is that it assumes a perfect understanding of the system and laws that govern accident claims. Maryland accident law is a Byzantine system that is often counterintuitive.
Here’s a perfect little example. Let’s say you have $50,000 in medical bills, $20,000 in future medical bills, and $35,000 in lost wages. Your medical insurance and personal injury protection paid some of your bills and you used your vacation time at work to continue to get paid. So the insurance company comes back to you and says, you have $3,000 in left over medical bills you still owe (or paid yourself) and I think you are entitled to $200,000 in pain and suffering so your total settlement should be $203,000.
Regardless of what he/she thinks about the $200,000, the logic at least makes sense to the victim. How can you get compensated for money that you did not actually spend? Why would the insurance company pay for bills already covered by PIP or medical insurance or lost wages that your employer paid? The reason is because the collateral source rule in Maryland says that the finder of fact (usually the jury) should not consider these things when determining the value of the case. In other words, you can still include these bills in your damages even though they have been paid.
This is an example of how counterintuitive our Maryland accident law is and why in the vast majority of cases – although not all – getting complete advice from a lawyer is the best path.
If you are trying to settle your own personal injury auto accident case without a lawyer, 95% of the time, you are making a mistake although there are a minority of cases that can and do settle on their own effectively. If nothing else, call a lawyer to consult with them on the lay of the land of your case. Our firm offers free consultations at 800-553-8082 or online. Most other personal injury law firms do too. But do call someone experienced in handling the labyrinth of personal injury cases.Other Personal Injury Resources
- Why You Should Hire a Lawyer in the Vast Majority of Personal Injury Cases
- Details on Settling a Personal injury Claim(settlement information)
- How Long Should Your Personal Injury Auto Accident Take to Settle? (how quickly do auto accident cases settle?)
- Valuing Personal Injury Cases (explanation of how auto accident cases are valued)
- Sample Demand Letter (example of a demand letter)
- Sample Demand Letter #2 (another example demand letter)
- Personal Injury Victim Help Center (information for injury victims about the process)
- Whiplash Accident Claims (why we generally do not take these cases and the type of soft tissue whiplash injury cases we are willing to take)
- Personal Injury Lawyer Help Center (tools for personal injury lawyers)
- More Information? Call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line consultation.