This is the first o a five-part blog series about the pitfalls of trying to settle your own New York personal injury claim without a lawyer. I don’t recommend that anyone actually do this, without at least first consulting with a New York personal injury lawyer. In rare cases, I have recommended to accident victims that they settle their claim on their own so as to avoid paying me a 1/3 contingency fee. But that’s only when the injury is minor, has totally healed, and there are no complications such as “liens”. Otherwise, having a New York personal injury lawyer represent you will almost always “pay off” because the settlement will be enhanced by far more than the 1/3 fee.
But if you want to throw all caution to the wind and settle your own claim without even consulting with a personal injury lawyer, at least try to avoid making these common do-it-your-selfer mistakes:
1. DON’T GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT. The insurance adjuster will seem friendly, compassionate. He or she will say, “we just want to know what happened so we can pay your claim. Can we record a statement from you”? If you say “yes”, you just fell into a trap. That recorded statement, which you believe represents the total “truth” about what happened, is likely to boomerang back and hit you in the back of the head. The insurance adjuster will rely on portions of your recorded statement, which she will call “admissions”, to low ball your settlement offer, or worse yet, the insurance company lawyer will use your “admissions” to cross-examine you at trial. You, of course, won’t know what hit you because you believe there was nothing “wrong” with what you said. But there almost certainly will be. The insurance adjuster is very good at getting you to say the wrong thing.
Remember, just say “no” to recorded statements!
Stay tuned for Part II in the series . . .
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.