Auto Accident – Do You Need an Attorney?

do I need an attorney

Do you need an attorney for your auto accident?

Answer the question for yourself!

Let me start by saying that some people never need an attorney, and others will always need an attorney.

Additionally, this article is based on my 15 years of claims adjusting experience. I have developed a simple little formula that will help you decide if you need an attorney or not. Keep in mind, this quiz is tailored for auto accidents only, and I make no warranties or guarantees that your result is a foolproof answer.

Ultimately, the only person that can decide if you need an attorney is you.

With that being said, simply answer the following 15 questions and then add up your answers. All of these questions are yes or no questions. Whatever answer you have the most of is your answer to the title of this article.

TAKE JUSTIN’S QUIZ NOW!

Difficult Adjusters and Lawsuits

packs-a-punch3

As a former liability adjuster, I cannot count the times that an individual threatened a lawsuit in an attempt to get more money.

I would like to make the point that adjusters are calloused to the threat of a lawsuit.  Many times, the adjuster’s ignorance is the reason they do not respond.  It is rare for an adjuster to actually be involved in the negotiation of an actual suit, so they never get real experience and hardly ever actually hear or see what the staff attorney or hired attorney does to get the suit settled.  Threatening a suit is rarely useful unless the threat is clearly credible.

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Total Loss – Help Yourself on Automobile Total Losses

total loss

I get a lot of questions about what the consumer can do to fight the insurance company when it comes to the value of their total loss.  Unfortunately, if you don’t have an adjuster’s license or some other credentials that qualify you to render an opinion on a vehicle’s value, then you are at the mercy of the insurance company.

All hope is not lost, though.

There are a few things you can do that may help you get a better settlement without spending another dime on your insurance claim.

Argue.

This may work if you make some valid arguments.  The insurance adjuster should be able to discern whether your arguments are valid or not and if they are valid, they should adjust the claim accordingly.  Make sure you have a copy of how they evaluated the value of your car and then look it over very carefully for any discrepancies in the mileage, options, or condition of your vehicle.  If there are no discrepancies, you will likely have a hard time arguing value because the value is an opinion of market worth that can only be certified by an insurance company or licensed and trained professional.

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Texas Small Claims Court

If I had a nickel . . . .

Okay, so you have run into a brick wall and can’t get justice served, right?  If you live in Texas, if justice means recovering money from somebody or company that owes you $10000.00 or less, then you can probably force the issue to a head by doing a little research on the Small Claims court rules.  They are located in the Texas Government Code, Chapter 28.  The rules of battle are clear and simple enough for most to understand with just a little research. 

Here are some general tips, and if you really want to get detailed, click on the title of this posting and you’ll be at my free resources page on our website:

1.  Don’t sue unless you have tried every other possibility.
2.  Do your homework.  The best way to win is to be right!
3.  Call the clerk of the court and ask general questions about procedure.  (Is the Judge informal? Does he conduct the hearing just like it says in Chapter 28 of the Government Code or does he allow the formal Rules of Civil procedure to take precedence?)
4.  Research your opponent!  Will they have an attorney?  Will they show up?  Can you get them on the telephone? Do they have any money or non-exempt property of value?
5.  Do you understand the deadlines and how to appeal if you happen to make a mistake and lose on a technicality?
6.  If you get in over your head, are you willing to just give up, or can you afford an attorney?
7.  Find all the free resources you can and ask many questions. 

Basically, if you have a valid reason to use Small Claims Court and your damages are within the limits allowed, then it can be a very useful way to get justice served.  Frankly, most people are not very informed about how the legal process works, but more people are coming forward to help out the consumer that is being “bullied” by either a landlord, or an insurance company that is fully aware of the fact that most people won’t sue because they can’t afford an attorney.  In 2007, Texas increased the limits for Small Claims Court and for Justice Courts from $5000.00 to $10000.00.  In my opinion, this change was an attempt to lessen the caseload of “minor claims” in the higher courts of record.  This is beneficial to people who know how to apply their constitutional right of access to the courts.  Normally, it costs less than $100.00 to get an official lawsuit on the books in Small Claims court, and a judgment from a Small Claims court is just as powerful as a judgment from any other court.  Depending on the circumstances, if you are forced to file a suit to recovery monetary damages, and you get to the point of having a judgment (my research and experience shows that about 80% of suits settle before a judgment is actually rendered), then the judgment can be used to garnish a bank account, seize non-exempt property, negatively affect credit ratings, and even suspend a driver license in some cases. 

If you need to use the Small Claims court, don’t be afraid to try your luck, I assure you it will be a learning experience and you will be better off in the future, win or lose.  For free information about how the Small Claims Courts in Texas work, call me or visit my website, I’m sure you can find the information you need to get your dispute resolved for a cost that is much less than what an attorney would charge.  Attorneys generally do not have the time to mess with small claims, they have big clients and bigger fish to fry that will make them much more money.  Also, be advised that I am not an attorney, and I do not give legal advice, I simply have the tools to point you to the information you need which is available for free in the public domain and on the internet.  Additionally, I provide help with finding information for free!

Good luck!

Injury Claims – How much are they worth?

In deciding to try and help auto accident victims I seem to have created some enemies, hehe.  Oh well.  I will continue to give honest and straightforward answers to the questions that accident victims have.  Recently I have had quite a few questions that relate to how to calculate how much a minor injury claim is worth.  In response to the numerous questions, I wrote an e-book which is available for purchase by clicking on the title of this posting.  I will also answer questions for free if you e-mail me or call me, but if you want it in writing to refer to when I am not personally available, you’ll have to make a very small investment.  Although I won’t give away all of my secrets here on the blog, I will offer some free tidbits and general information that will compliment the e-book. 

One of the things that I did not address in my e-book is the use of the Colossus system.  It has been said that out of the top 20 auto insurers, 12 or 13 of them have licensed Colossus.  In fact, there are a couple of articles on E-zines that list out the companies which have licensed Colossus.  For those of you that don’t have a clue what Colossus is, let me explain. . . .

Colossus is an injury claim evaluation software program.  In the most simple terms, insurance adjusters that evaluate injury claims plug in various different terms and factors from your medical reports, occupation, doctor’s office, lawyer’s office, and a lot of other “proprietary” information and then Colossus compares the information with its “database” of similar injury claims.  Once it has analyzed the information, it generates a “suggested settlement range”.  Although insurance companies won’t admit that their adjusters are required to stay within the program’s suggested range, I am here to tell you that for those companies that use it, it is “heavily relied upon”, hehe.  The insurance company will insist that the adjuster retains the ultimate authority on determining the settlement range, but they fail to tell you that when that same adjuster gets his/her “review”, then they will be evaluated on how well they settled claims within the “suggested range” from Colossus.  Additionally, although I can’t prove it, there has been testimony that some companies “filter” out the “unusual” high settlements that would make up the database of “similar” claims. 

Ultimately, my e-book explains the philosophy and the methods used to evaluate the value of an injury claim, and even Colossus has to use some of the same standards like determining the tendency of the venue and such.  I would suggest that if you have an injury claim and you are dealing with it on your own, that you do a little research to try and determine if the company you are dealing with uses Colossus or any other software to evaluate your injury claim.  If you determine that they do use a computer to “assist” with the evaluation, be frank and up front with the adjuster.  It is likely that the adjuster will help you to provide the “correct” information that they can input into the software to get your claim settled.  The software gives you back what you put in, and you just have to know what to put in, you know?

Injury claims are each different.  Getting a list of the most used and “universal” factors used in evaluating an injury claim is how you can get a rough idea of what your claim is worth.  Utilizing things like the “Stowers Doctrine” and being well advised on the methods used for evaluation will add up quickly when it comes to getting the right settlement for your injury. 

I hope you never have to file an injury claim, but if you do, I hope you find me so I can add to my list of people I have helped.  It just makes me feel good, you know?

Drop us a line!