When to Hire an Attorney

Question: Can I still hire an attorney? I was in an accident and settled the property damage, but I am still getting medical treatment. The insurance company wants to settle now. When is it too late to hire an attorney?

Answer:

You can obtain the services of an attorney any time before you sign a release of claims which settles your case and releases the tortfeasor from any further liability for your injuries or damages. Generally, when liability is not at question, the insurance company for the tortfeasor will pay to have your car repaired as quickly as possible. The property damage is usually negotiated between the insurance company and the body shop that will perform the repairs.

The personal injury claim will usually not be settled for six months to a year. The reason for this is that the full extent of your injuries may not be known for several months. Doctors usually begin any treatment conservatively. At this stage, most people are usually optimistic that the injuries will heal quickly. If you have a soft tissue injury, you may require physical therapy which could last several months. If the conservative treatment does not resolve your problems, other treatments and tests will be conducted. If you settle your case before you know the full extent of your injuries, as insurance companies will often want to do, you will not be compensated later when you discover that the problems did not resolve themselves as quickly as you had anticipated. For example, if you had settled your claim soon after the accident and later discovered that surgery or other additional treatment was required, you would not be compensated for that later treatment.

You may hire an attorney at any time. The earlier you hire an attorney the better, so that he can give you legal advice when dealing with the insurance adjuster. It has been our experience that you will receive a larger settlement with the help of an attorney, even after you pay legal fees. In a recent case which we settled without court action, the adjuster told us that if there were no attorney on the case, she would have offered the claimant $500 plus payment of the medical bills. We settled the case for $3,500 plus payment of the medical bills.

You should definitely pursue your case by seeing an attorney. We will be happy to meet with you for a free initial consultation. Contact our office for further information or representation, and we will be glad to give you our personal attention. You may also visit our website at sternbergandzeid.com or you may e-mail us at sternbergzeid@ameritech.net .

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