A man writes in asking the lawyer for advice about how to proceed to negotiated a settlement with the insurance adjuster. The man was hurt, has a valuable claim but he didn’t want to pay a lawyer to do with lawyers do. So instead he jumps onto the Internet, does half an hour of reading and thinks he’s equipped to fix his own legal problems.
So what’s wrong with this and why should he hire a lawyer.
First, even if lawyers have the ability to make what they do look easy, it is not easy. I for instance, can’t tell you everything I’ve learned over the past 30+ years in half an hour. Not everything I’ve learned in that time comes up in every case, but in every case I have in my experience encyclopedia-like legal knowledge that is assisting to process and to filter the facts in my client’s case. I don’t tell every client about the statute of limitations date because many times it’s not relevant. The insurance adjuster doesn’t disclose what he or she would have done, if I as the lawyer weren’t there. Instead all the tools in my legal toolbox are available. Not every tool is used in every case, just like not every tool in Dave Michael’s tool trailer come out on every contracting job he works. But if a problem arises Dave can pull out just the right tool to fix the problem before it becomes a bigger problem.
Well, practicing law is a lot like Dave Michael’s work as a commercial real estate contractor.
We have a lot of tools sitting in our legal tool trailer. But we don’t pull everyone out in every case nor should we. But if you ask us how to do this and how to do that we might as well be getting paid to do it, because just like Dave and you, we too have an electric bill and kids to send to college.
And what about making mistakes? Anyone who has ever tried to fix their own construction problem knows how easy it is to make the problem worse. And that’s exactly what this guy is doing with his legal case, he’s making the problem more difficult. Why? Because he doesn’t know what he’s doing and he’s providing information that will raise questions about one thing or another and that makes my job that much more difficult when he finally gets to the point where he realizes he’s in over his head and yells “Uncle!”.
So, I promise to fix no drywall if you promise to not try and fix your own personal injury case without my help. It’s really that simple.
Question: What if I made the adjuster in my Iowa I-235 truck accident case an offer to settle the case and did it without an attorney and before doing research and realized I way low balled it? The insurance agent left a message for me to callback and talk about the claim? Can I increase the settlement amount with the information I've obtained?
Answer: You can withdraw your last offer before it is accepted and make a new offer. You may be hurting your claim without even knowing it because unlike a lawyer you are not trained to understand the law of Iowa personal injury claims. You may want to hire an attorney to negotiate a settlement of your Iowa drunk driver injury claim. In the end it could save you a lot of money.
By doing this you are telegraphing that you are an amateur and don’t know what you’re doing. But more importantly you are anxious to get this claim settled and jumped the gun. Now that the adjuster knows both these facts he will now delay the process. Because delay will further frustrate you and a frustrated person doesn’t think clearly and begins to act on emotion, rather than reason. A lawyer has no dog in the fight so good lawyers us protocol or a system to work up the case and to present the demand for settlement. That protocol or system is usually proprietary to each of us and we stay in business because our system works.
As an amateur trying to play lawyer you have no system and lack experience.
So ask yourself, are you smart enough to know if the adjuster is just jerking you around and has no intention of settling?
Can you afford to be wrong? If you can afford to lose, then it’s not a problem, just have at it; if you can’t hire an Iowa personal injury and accident lawyer.