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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Personal Injury > Why Should You Never Directly Negotiate with an Insurance Company By Yourself?

Why Should You Never Directly Negotiate with an Insurance Company By Yourself?


“Why do I need a lawyer? The other driver’s insurance company will pay for my losses.”

This is a common sentiment we hear from many people who have been injured in a car accident. There is an assumption that insurance will simply take care of any medical bills or other damages. So why go to the trouble of hiring–or even speaking with–a lawyer?

The short answer is that insurance companies have far more experience when it comes to dealing with car accidents than you. More to the point, the insurance company is in business of paying out as little as possible to resolve that claim. They often count on an accident victim not knowing how much their claim is worth. And they certainly depend on you not understanding the legal process of negotiating a settlement.

Courts Reject Accident Victim’s Attempt to Undo Settlement

A recent decision from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals provides an appropriate cautionary tale. In this case, Eckart v. Allstate Northbrook Indemnity Company, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident. She asserted the other driver was at-fault. The plaintiff, apparently acting without an attorney, directly contacted the at-fault driver’s insurance company, Allstate, to seek compensation for her losses.

According to the plaintiff, Allstate agreed to pay her $16,378 to settle “all of her claims arising from the collision.” In exchange, she had to sign a release, which was drafted by Allstate’s attorneys. The plaintiff said she agreed to those terms even though she later said Allstate’s communications with her contained “some vague, confusing, and perhaps contradictory language.”

After signing the release, however, the plaintiff said Allstate then informed her she would not receive $16,378 as promised. Rather, Allstate would send her a check for $3,782.50. And she was only entitled to keep $560 of that amount; the rest was owed to her medical providers.

Not surprisingly, Allstate offered a different account of what happened. The insurer said it made an “initial settlement offer” of $16,378 but later re-adjusted the figure when it learned the plaintiff’s medical emergency room bill was $12,000 less than previously assumed. In fact, even under the initial offer the plaintiff would still have only kept $560 as reimbursement for her out-of-pocket expenses. The bulk of the settlement was always meant to compensate the plaintiff’s medical providers.

The plaintiff nevertheless felt she was the victim of a scheme by the insurance company to defraud her. She sued Allstate in federal court. But both the trial court and later the 11th Circuit dismissed the case, holding the plaintiff failed to even advance a viable claim for fraud.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

There are some obvious lessons here. Never try to negotiate with an insurance company by yourself. Never sign a release when you do not understand any of the terms. And never assume that a court will undo the damage if you ignore the first two lessons.

Anytime that you have been hurt in a car accident, you should not waste any time in contacting a qualified Cobb County personal injury lawyer who can advise and represent you in dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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