1. Should You Deal Directly With The MVA Adjuster - Or Get A Personal Injury Lawyer?
ASAP after a motor vehicle accident (“MVA”), insurance adjusters for offending vehicles/drivers typically try to control the thinking of their MVA victims. These adjusters try to persuade their victims not to consult MVA lawyers and instead to accept lowball settlements. But as clients of Waterman Law Centers know, that insurance industry pitch is not in victims’ best interest!
- The opposition’s insurer is the opposition – not your friend.
When approaching victims, insurance adjusters superficially are polite, cordial and engaging, as they butter-up and buddy-up to their victims. Despite being very friendly, however, adjusters are not their victims’ friends. Indeed, despite their chummy exteriors, they remain the opposition – the enemy.
Never lose sight that the adjuster is employed and paid by the offending vehicle/driver’s insurer. As such, adjusters owe contractual and legal duties to act in the interest of their offending insureds against their victims. Moreover, adjusters do not keep their jobs, let alone get raises and promotions, by being generous to victims with their employers’ and their insureds’ money.
- The opposition’s adjuster wants to deal with (to take advantage of) a novice layman.
MVA victims are layman with no legal education, training, or experience in general, let alone with personal injury cases in particular. Consequently, unrepresented victims are in the dark about the whole claims process; proper case evaluation, presentation, and negotiation; etc. Further, if they have been persuaded not to retain a lawyer, victims acting alone simply do not pose a credible lawsuit threat, which real threat by a lawyer ultimately is what helps motivate and discipline adjusters to pay more.
A successful experienced personal injury lawyer, like award-winning Avery T. “Sandy” Waterman, Jr., Esq. of Waterman Law Centers, knows the claims process, claim presentation format and content, case valuation and negotiation, and more – perhaps even knows the clever adjuster. Further, the lawyer poses the adjuster an immediate credible threat of the offending insured being sued if the adjuster lowballs settlement. So obviously, adjusters do not want to have a lawyer involved.
- The opposition’s adjuster misleads his victim about a lawyer’s cost and effectiveness.
Many offending vehicle/driver adjusters persuade their MVA victims not to get a lawyer by materially misinforming them about the monetary implications. Adjusters typically claim:  the settlement amount will not be any different (larger), even if the victim gets a lawyer; and  the victim actually will get less money on net, because a lawyer will get part of the settlement.
- The total amount of money:
Some opposition adjusters simply are not telling their victims the truth, i.e., they are lying to their victims, re-victimizing them. Contrary to what they claim to victims, they in fact ultimately pay more money to settle when a lawyer is retained.
Other opposition adjusters are technically correct – yet substantively are misleading their victims. Some insurers employ different teams of adjusters to negotiate directly with victims than to deal with lawyers. So the initial low-level adjuster who negotiates only with victims technically may be accurate in saying that the amount he offers will not change, even if a lawyer were involved; but he still is deceptive, because that low-level adjuster knows that a higher-level adjuster with higher authority will take over the claim and pay more, when a lawyer is involved.
In his 40+ years of experience as a personal injury lawyer, award-winning Avery T. “Sandy” Waterman, Jr., Esq. of Waterman Law Centers always has obtained more money than a victim who has tried to handle his or her MVA claim alone unrepresented. Always.
- The net amount of money:
Opposition adjusters also misleadingly emphasize that a lawyer gets a percentage of the settlement as compensation for his experience, knowledge, and services. They claim over-simplistically that a lawyer getting a percentage necessarily means the victim gets less.
That view is misleading because it wrongly presumes that a lawyer gets in settlement the same lowball amount offered to a layman, which again simply is not true. Because a successful experienced personal injury lawyer is capable of obtaining a significantly higher amount than a layman victim, on balance the victim still nets more money despite the lawyer being compensated, because both victim and lawyer are being paid out of a sufficiently larger settlement amount.
- The total amount of money:
- The opposition’s adjusters do not want lawyers involved, because lawyers make them pay more money – not because the opposition’s adjusters supposedly are looking out for their MVA victims.
Opposition adjusters are shrewd businessmen, not charitable gift-givers. They try to minimize their payments, not to maximize their victims’ recoveries.
Opposition adjusters trash-talk lawyers to victims to discourage them from getting legal representation, to neutralize them as a lawsuit threat, and to take advantage of their lack of legal education, knowledge, and experience. They know that more money will have to be paid if a victim gets a successful experienced lawyer, so they try to avoid their victims getting a lawyer. Period.
For your MVA, retain Avery T. “Sandy” Waterman, Jr., Esq., the award-winning lawyer of Waterman Law Centers, with offices in Hampton, Newport News, and Williamsburg, Virginia! He will fight for the full compensation that the opposition insurance adjuster is trying to keep from you!
2. What should I do about Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media posts?
3. What steps should I take after being in a vehicle accident?
Take ten. Too often what happens after the accident affects the final outcome of what happened during the accident. Hopefully you already are on the right track, but be sure to consider the following:
- Immediately notify authorities about the accident and the wrongdoer;
- Immediately notify authorities about the accident and the wrongdoer;
- Comply with all medical prescriptions, restriction, and follow-up;
- Do not discuss the accident with any wrongdoer’s insurer or investigator;
- Cooperate with your personal insurance company representatives;
- Photograph physical injuries, property damage, and accident scene;
- Write down what happened in the accident and what problems you are having;
- Do not sign any agreement with, or accept any check from, the opposition;
- Save all receipts and other documents; and
- Contact an experienced lawyer like Mr. Waterman as soon as possible to discuss your case.
Following these simple directions can be the difference between you being revictimized and you obtaining restitution for your vehicle accident.
4. What do I owe for attorney fees if the case does not allow you to recover anything?
Absolutely nothing. Mr. Waterman handles all personal injury cases on a “contingency fee” basis. That means whether he is paid any attorney fee is determined solely by what he is able to recover. If he is able to recover money for you, his attorney fee is the percentage of that recovery stated in your retainer agreement. If he is unable to recover, you owe him no attorney fee for his time and effort, regardless of how much and long. Fortunately, Mr. Waterman has recovered in the vast majority of cases, especially vehicle accidents; though his historic results cannot guarantee future returns.
5. What if I cannot come into the office for an initial visit?
No problem. Thanks to modern electronics, Mr. Waterman can receive the necessary information from you and convey the necessary material to you by telephone, email and/or telefax. At some point, however, you may need to visit the office.
6. Do I have a good case?
You may. Sometimes it is clear. Car accidents often are that way. If the other driver ran a red light or stop sign, rear-ended you, or otherwise drove recklessly – and your driving did not contribute to the accident – then you probably have a good case. Common sense can be a good guide. On the other hand, sometimes it is not obvious. Medical malpractice often is that way. Despite healthcare not seeming right to a layman – or even to a lawyer – is it necessary to collect the medical records and retain an expert before forming an opinion. Further, a case that first appears promising may not prove to be a good one, such as when crucial facts not disclosed initially are discovered subsequently. Hence case reevaluation along the way is as important as case selection from the start.
7. How long do I have to file suit?
It varies. Time deadlines differ dramatically between states and may be as short as one year. Moreover, some types of cases, such as those against governmental entities, also have pre-filing deadlines for giving formal written notice that are as little as six months. Under Virginia law, most personal injury claims must be filed within two years of the underlying incident. But there are various exceptions to the general rule depending on case type and facts that may shorten or lengthen the time. For example, children usually but not always are allowed more time.
8. How long will my case take?
That depends. There are a wide variety of factors that dictate the appropriate amount of time for individual case handling. Those include the type of case, the probability of liability, the extent of personal injuries, the duration of healthcare treatment, the amount of money sought, the amount of insurance coverage or personal assets, the insurer and adjuster, the defendants and defense counsel, the court and judge, the situation and preference of the victim, etc. Generally, speaking, medical malpractice and other cases take longer than vehicle accident ones; more protracted and/or otherwise serious injuries take longer than ones smaller in duration and/or size; greater amounts of money sought and/or lesser probabilities of liability take longer than the opposite; etc. For example, vehicle accidents involving clear liability, relatively modest personal injuries and short treatment windows usually can be adjusted fastest, often without any suit. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.
9. Will the wrongdoer reimburse my lost wages, healthcare expenses, rental car, etc. now?
Rarely so. Even when the wrongdoer has medical expense benefits coverage, that rarely is offered when it is expected you will make a liability claim. So it best for you immediately to call upon any employment-related benefits and any insurance coverage available to you, such as annual leave, health insurance, AAA coverage, etc. Although ultimately the wrongdoer is liable for your damages, traditionally there is no compensation until your case is concluded. However, a common exception is payment for any vehicle collision damage, particularly when you notify the wrongdoer’s and your insurers of it promptly.
10. Do you handle your cases personally instead of passing them to associates or others?
Every one. For such individual service, client understanding and patience is necessary.
11. Is information that I give you confidential even if you cannot take my case?
Almost always. The attorney-client privilege protects communications with actual and even prospective clients. The crime-fraud exception to that broad general rule provides no confidentiality for communications about seeking to commit a crime or fraud.
12. Is more information readily available from you before I can speak with you?
Sure is. Mr. Waterman regularly updates his legal blog related to his practice on the Blog Articles Page. But each case has its own nuances, so be sure to contact us.