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Top Ten Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Car or Truck Wreck Personal Injury Claim--Part 5

Top Ten Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Car or Truck Wreck Personal Injury Claim--Part 5

Mistake #9: Failing to Have the Right Insurance or Enough Insurance

There is nothing more frustrating than to be involved in an accident only to find that the other driver who caused the accident has no insurance. A percentage of Texas drivers do not have automobile insurance despite the fact the law requires them to have it. So if they hit you and are at fault, you will have to make a claim on your own insurance policy in order to pay for your injuries.

Even more frustrating is to discover that your own insurance coverage is not adequate to pay for the injuries you have sustained. This is something you could have changed, if you had realized. STOP right now. Go get your automobile insurance policy. Review not only the coverage provided, but also the limits of coverage—the maximum amount the insurance company is responsible for paying. If you pick up that policy and it appears to be written in Greek, don’t worry. Most people have a hard time understanding insurance policies. Insurance policies are legal contracts written using lots of legal language. They are written in a manner to be confusing to the average layperson. Some insurance agents do a good job of explaining general terms of automobile insurance, but I find most people rely upon insurance agents to decide what coverage they need. In most cases, this is not a good practice. Again, you should be informed so you can make the decision as to what is best for you.

For more information about your own insurance, see my prior blog post at here and here.

Mistake #10: Failing to Consult with an Attorney or Failing to Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

We live in a DYI (Do-It-Yourself) society, but there are some things you should not do yourself. Would you operate on yourself ? No. You’ve probably seen the commercial where the guy calls his doctor and the doctor starts to talk him through the procedure of performing surgery on himself. Remember the look on his face? Not something you want to try. So why would you want to represent yourself when you have suffered a serious injury claim? You are going up against an insurance industry that spends millions of dollars a year training adjusters and hiring attorneys to ensure they don’t pay as much money as they should. Simply, if you are representing yourself in a serious injury case, you are going up against a well-financed defendant that has attorneys at its disposal to ensure it pays you the least amount of money possible. It is their job.

Additionally, there are certain aspects of the law that can hurt you. Most people do not realize that if their health insurance company paid for their medical expenses, the health insurance company is subrogated for the amounts paid. This means the insurance company has a right to collect all amounts it paid for your medical treatment from a responsible third party.  However, if you settle your claim without including the health insurance carrier in the settlement, the health insurance company could sue you for the money. In many instances, an experienced attorney will be able to negotiate this lien, but again, the health insurance company has attorneys representing them. Do you really want to go against all these companies who are represented by attorneys? Doesn’t make much sense.

Hire an Attorney Experienced in Personal Injury claims

Many lawyers hold themselves out as representing people injured by others. Just google personal injury lawyer or turn on the T.V. and you will see lots of lawyer ads for those injured. However, serious injury cases require attorneys experienced in handling these types of claims—those attorneys who have spent hundreds of hours taking depositions, arguing motions in court, and trying cases in front of juries. Not those who sit in their office and spend all their hours trying to settle the case so they don’t ever have to step through the doors of a courtroom.

You want an attorney who is courtroom tested to represent you.  Not only will that attorney have the necessary experience to represent you, the insurance companies know what lawyers are willing to take their client’s claim before a jury and which lawyers will fold like a cheap tent prior to trial.  It impacts the value of your case.  WHen the insurance company knows you will take the case to a jury if they do not offer a reasonable settlement, the value of your case increases. 

There are many lawyers who advertise they handle personal injury cases, but the number who have a track record of success before juries is much smaller.  One way to determine if your lawyer is experienced in personal injury is whether the attorney is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law.  In order to receive that certification, the attorney must have been practicing law at least 5 years, have tried a number of cases before a jury, be recommended by their peers and judges, and take an additional examination to test their knowledge of personal injury trial law.  There are over 108,000 licensed attorneys in Texas.  Only 1,311 are board certified in personal injury trial law—about 1.2 percent. At the Kisselburgh Law Firm, Robert is board certified in personal injury trial law and has tried cases to a jury with recoveries ranging from the thousands to the millions of dollars.