Look. No one, not me, not an insurance company, not that uncle that knows everything that all of my clients seem to have, can tell you what your settlement might be with an attorney and what it might be without an attorney. I know you want to know, but it’s just impossible.
Still, there are things you can think about that can help you answer the question, though maybe not answering the exact question.
In 1995, Allstate produced a training manual for its claim adjusters [Allstate Insurance Co., Unrepresented Segment Training Manual, 15-30, July 1995]. This document stressed the importance of convincing claimants to represent themselves and not retain an attorney. Why? Allstate explained its position with a number of telling statistics: With settlements under $15,000 injured claimants represented by an attorney averaged $7,450 in a total settlement. Those who represented themselves to Allstate averaged only $3,464.
With the insurance giant’s own data, the average of settlements they themselves were paying out tilted heavily in favor of victims represented by attorneys. That’s a big deal.
Now, will that always be the case? Who knows? But if you’re the type of person who generally believes past performance predicts future outcomes, then there ya go.
The other thing to look at is how you would come about obtaining that settlement. In the end, to me, the biggest difference is how much work YOU, as the injured person, have to put into the result. If you’re not represented, the answer is ALL of the work (not to mention the fact that you probably don’t know the best way to do all of that work). But if you’re represented by an attorney, THAT’S what you’re paying for. And you’re not even paying! In a contingency fee arrangement, the fee is a percentage of the recovery. Worst case scenario, maybe you could have gotten the same result (but see the first point above!), but even if that’s the case, with an attorney, you didn’t have to work to get it. Isn’t that worth something?
If you’re an accident victim, talk to an attorney. Call me. 919-929-2992.