In speaking with other St Louis area personal injury lawyers I have come to learn that it is not only common in my practice that injury victims sometimes try to settle cases with the auto insurance company on their own. In most cases trying to settle a Missouri car accident injury case without a lawyer is a losing proposition for you and a win win for the insurance company.
Top reasons I hear from people why they try to settle their car accident injury case on their own:
1. I just want what is fair, the insurance company should give me that because the car accident was not my fault. In a perfect world this may be true, but it is the insurance adjuster's job to give you as little money as possible to get you sign away your legal rights, also known as settling. How can you trust what they tell you, your best interest are in direct conflict of their next raise and the company's bottom line.
2. The insurance adjuster promised to pay my medical bills and give me some money on top of that!
What amount of medical bills are we talking about? The gross amount the hospital and doctors charged or the reduced insurance payment amount? The insurance comply will pay the reduced amount, but under Missouri law you are entitled to the gross amount paid as the reduced amount is oftentimes irrelevant under the Missouri collateral source rule. The status of the collateral source rule in Missouri is constantly changing especially since the 2005 "tort reform" statutes. Proper application of the collateral source rule can make the difference of 10s of thousands of dollars for your case.
Case in point: Recently a Missouri car accident victim called me and she suffered some moderate to severe injuries. The insurance company promised her they would pay her medical bills plus give her 10 thousand dollars.... wow great deal right? WRONG! Her "medical bills" as she understood them were $9,000; however this was the amount adjusted for medicare payments, the total gross amount of her bills were over $30,000. So under the great offer by the insurance company she left $21,000 plus on the table. Given her injuries we will likely settle her case for policy limits of $100,000.
3. Attorney fees will take up my recovery.
See my Missouri auto accidents page and main website and the results we have gotten for our Personal injury clients. We get results based on knowledge and experience. I know what your case is worth. As in the example above, would you rather have 100% of $10,000 of 2/3rds of $100,000?