Fair compensation for losses should be the goal in any injury claim. Insurance industry research establishes that people represented by a personal injury attorney end up better off. The data shows them recovering almost three and one-half times more than people who try to settle on their own. The conclusion that having an attorney working for you is a better approach is pretty straight-forward.
Insurance Industry Research Proves Having An Injury Attorney Is A Good Idea
Back in 1999, the Insurance Research Council (IRC), did a comprehensive study. It compared the value of settlements people received for the same injury for represented people versus those who did not have a lawyer. The IRC is a division of the American Institute for Commercial Property-Casualty Underwriters and the Insurance Institute of America. It is funded by the big insurance companies. The IRC determined that people who were represented by an attorney received almost three and one-half times more. Thus they received more money even after the attorney’s fees were paid.
There is a related study from the IRC titled “Auto Injuries: Claiming Behavior and Its Impact on Insurance Costs.” Those researchers analyzed how attorney representation relates to compensation from insurance companies for injury victims. That report found that 85 percent of the bodily injury compensation dollars paid out are paid to clients who have hired an attorney.
Similarly in 2003 an IRC internal document [Auto Injury Insurance Claims: Countrywide Patterns in Treatment, Cost, and Compensation Malvern, PA: December 2003] was made available to its member insurance companies. Page 112 of that report contains the IRC’s data. It again showed the vast majority of dollars paid out to bodily injury claims are paid out to claimants who retain attorneys. in that study, injured people with representation (less than 1/2 of claimants) received 79% of all liability payouts.
Internal Insurance Company Information Is Consistent With The Fair Compensation Research
The insurance data has been consistent over the years. Back in 1995, Allstate’s claim adjusters training manual [Allstate Insurance Co., Unrepresented Segment Training Manual, July 1995] contained similar conclusions.
In its manual Allstate emphasized to its adjusters the importance to the company’s bottom line of convincing claimants to represent themselves and not retain an attorney. Allstate explained its position with a number of telling statistics: For example, for settlements under $15,000 injured claimants represented by an attorney averaged $7,450 in a total settlement. Those who represented themselves in their claims against Allstate averaged only $3,464. Thus, people with an attorney for a small claim on average more than doubled (a 115% increase) the likelihood of a better settlement. The manual also indicated that overall personal injury victims with attorneys generally recovered 2 to 3 times more than self-represented claimants.
The insurance industry numbers are clear. On average, having an attorney does increase the money injured people receive, even after the legal fees are deducted.
Why Does Representation Lead to Fair Compensation?
Obtaining fair compensation for losses imposed on you by a negligent person requires overcoming many hurdles. Defendants in personal injury claims have financial and other reasons to fight back against a plaintiff’s claims. The insurance company certainly wants to avoid paying for your losses if it can. There is also a tendency in some people to have a hard time accepting responsibility for their carelessness.
Ultimately, winning the personal injury damages that should make you whole requires evidence of both your injuries and the defendant’s negligence. Your personal testimony about what happened and how it impacted you is important evidence. But, having other things corroborate your testimony is invaluable. Whether you are dealing with a jury or an insurance adjuster, uncorroborated testimony is often dismissed as self-serving–no matter how true and accurate it is.
Good Injury Lawyers Understand Evidence
An experienced lawyer can help you understand all the types of evidence you need and remain on top of things while avoiding common problems. One of the first things we do is give our clients their “homework.” This is a questionnaire the explores the injury, the incident, your history, information about witnesses and a wide variety of other issues. It is really an organizing tool to help us help you.
Document, Document and Document Some More
One important key to the satisfactory resolution of a personal injury claim is extensive documentation of the incident and its effects. This is true whether the case is resolved by negotiation, mediation or trial. For example, these types of common items of evidence can help increase your chances of success.
- Employment records showing any missed work or reduced productivity
- Records of payments you have made to medical providers, mechanics, or repair shops, etc.
- Photographs of your injuries that show the bruising bleeding or limitations
- Pictures of the property damage resulting from the incident
- Medical records detailing the injuries you have suffered and their required treatments
- Written or taped testimony from witnesses about changes in your life or health
Those are basics. There can be many other things. Obtaining concrete evidence and presenting it persuasively is one of the main things that an experienced attorney can do to make sure you obtain full value for your injury claim.