Auto accidents have become an expected part of daily life. Here in the lowcountry of South Carolina it is no different. I hear almost daily about clients, friends and their families being in auto accidents. The stories range from mild fender benders to severe and life threatening or life ending injuries. The vast majority of those in auto accidents that I talk to have no interest in bringing a lawsuit. Nearly everyone would much rather have the matter taken care of quickly and put behind them.
South Carolina, like many states, requires that its drivers carry insurance within certain minimum limits of coverage. Unfortunately, many times drivers fail to do so. What becomes even more frustrating however is when the person causing an accident has insurance that would cover the medical bills and other damages, but that insurance company refuses to produce the promised money for that coverage. This all to frequent scenario can create a great deal of frustration for the injured person as well as for the at-fault driver who faithfully paid their insurance premiums in anticipation and reliance that if they ever did make a driving error, that they would have the protection they were promised from their policy.
The injured party, facing mounting medical bills, often comes to my office conflicted and still hoping to convince the insurance company to pay for their damages without the need for litigation. Here are a few things to remember when deciding whether to obtain an attorney.
1) Never forget that the insurance companies are not charities but are for profit enterprises. They have different, and usually adverse, interests from you in your accident claim. They may be friendly, but the bottom line is that they want to pay as little as they possibly can (an understandable position given that they are in it to make money) to maximize profits.
2) Anything you say may be used against you. Be very cautious about giving recorded statements. Injuries often subside and return, or the injuries we think are about to heal take a turn for the worse. Statements regarding your condition should be given, if at all, only after ample time has been allowed for treatment and healing. Likewise, it is better to discuss your case with an attorney before giving a statement.
3) Is the insurance adjuster trying to direct your medical treatment? Your medical treatment should be a decision made by you with the consult of your doctor. It should not be influenced by an insurance adjuster and it should raise a red flag in your mind if you notice the insurance adjuster commenting or suggesting certain courses of treatment. While some such advice may be genuine and meant to be helpful, because of the adversarial position of the insurance company it is unwise to rely on such advice.
In the end, only you can decide if you need an attorney. Many other factors may need to be considered. But finding an attorney that you can trust to give you sound legal advice and be a strong advocate for your position is important. Most attorneys will offer a free consultation and you should take full advantage of this offer. Finding a legal advocate that you can trust and who wants to keep your business for years to come can make an enormous difference in whether you are able to pay for your medical treatment and future care, or whether you are forced to endure ongoing medical problems and mounting bills.