If you have read my blog for a while or talked to me, you know I'm a straight shooter. I'll tell people when they don't need a lawyer. I'll tell people if their current attorney is doing a good or terrible job. I've made it my policy to be direct, blunt and honest.
So when I write a post that there is a danger in trying to get a settlement without an attorney, I don't do that for my bottom line, but instead for yours. I was recently contacted by a woman who made the point clear.
The biggest reason to get a lawyer early is to essentially have a security blanket in case something does go wrong and to make sure nothing is going wrong. But I get that not everyone gets a lawyer. The woman who contacted me tore her ACL on the job and never got an attorney. The insurance company made what seems like close to a fair offer to settle her case.
The problem is that she needs another surgery and they don't want to pay for it. Because a settlement offer has been made she can't get a lawyer. How is that so?
If you get a lawyer involved after a settlement offer has been made, they can only get compensated if they get your offer increased. So if you are offered $40,000.00 without a lawyer and they get the offer increased to $60,000.00, they only get paid based on the $20,000.00 increase. As a result, many attorneys won't touch a case once any real offer has been made. This of course has caused insurance companies to make quick, low ball offers to try and prevent you from being able to get legal help while still not giving you close to what you are owed.
The problem in a case like this is that she needs more medical treatment. To get that approved she'll need to go to court. But no attorney I know will do that because they would have to do a ton of work without getting compensated for the full value of the case. It's not fair, but it's reality.
In other cases you want to make sure your future medical needs are taken care of. This worker, for example, may need a knee replacement surgery. If it's anticipated now then she should get paid for it now. The insurance company of course doesn't want to do that. So again, the only way to make that happen is with a lawyer.
And even when medical care isn't an issue, you'll almost never end up with more money without an attorney.
So I get why people try to go at things without a lawyer. It seems like the insurance company is doing everything they should. You don't want to have to get a lawyer (who would?). You are focused on returning to work.
I promise you though, whether you hire us or someone else, it's almost always way better for you to have an attorney in your corner.
Disclaimer: WorkersCompensation.com publishes independently generated writings from a variety of workers' compensation industry stakeholders. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of WorkersCompensation.com.