Settling Safely Solo
I am often asked how can I settle my case by myself without getting into trouble? The good news is they are asking the question! Just like no one would try to fly an airplane without some guidance you should not try to settle your personal injury case without some guidance either. Here are three quick tips:
1. Are you certain you know everything about your injury? No one else knows your body better than you do. Are you still on pain medication? Are you still actively treating? Is there talk of a future surgery or extended future medical care? If the answer is yes unknown to any of these questions, then you are probably not ready to settle solo.
2. Do you know how much your medical bills total and what you owe your medical providers? One of the goals of the personal injury settlement is to close this chapter of your life by helping you physically, emotionally and financially. By not dealing with your medical bills you are legally not fulfilling your obligations to the medical providers that helped you when you were injured and needed it most. It will nag at you if you don’t do it. Also, not paying them when your settlement comes in is going to create bigger problems down the road in many ways. You will not have closure. The bills will keep coming. Secondly, if you have a flare up or need additional treatment, you will be starting from scratch with a provider that doesn’t know your history because you won’t return where you know you left a $1,500 unpaid bill. This will cost you more money in the long run because the new doctor will be starting from scratch. Thirdly, have you ever worked and then had your employer fail to pay you? How did you feel/how would you feel? Well, it is the same thing when the doctor treats and you fail to pay him or her. Do the right thing here and your future physical, emotional and finanical health well being will be much better.
3. Do you know how much insurance the other driver had? Under Florida law you are entitled to have this information disclosed to you by their insurance company. See Florida Statute §627.4137. Your case value does not relate to the amount of insurance coverage the at-fault party has, but their insurance coverage is information you need to know.
If the at-fault party only has $10K in limits and you are offered a $10K settlement, then how much better are you really going to be able to do if you sue them and have to collect individually from them? On the other hand, if you are still uncertain about your injuries, and the at-fault party has $250K in coverage, why settle for $5K when they have plenty of coverage to take care of you until your injuries are healed? Remember, once you sign and settle you are done FOREVER.
Settling without any attorney is not without risk, just like flying without an experienced pilot is not without risk. However, if your case is small and you are determined to settle solo, please remember these tips for a safe and successful flight. Naturally, if you want to speak an attorney about your case at no obligation at all then I am only an e-mail or a phone call away. Just contacting me does not mean I’m your attorney. It doesn’t mean I’m going to “move in” on your case. I provide quality legal advice in the area of personal injury cases as a community service all the time and I’d be glad to help you too. Until next time, Safe Flying!