Reader: Three weeks ago I was at a retail store and tripped over winter matting near the entrance. I fell and broke my wrist. Today an Insurance adjuster called me. He said I was responsible to look where I was walking but he offered me $5000.00 to help me out as I have been off work. I am on sick leave and have not lost any income. Is there any reason not to just take the money?
Plenty of Reason. Leaving aside what happened, and what you might be entitled to recover as a result of your injuries, it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer before taking a settlement proposed by an insurance company. Insurance adjusters work for Insurance companies and they do not approach a settlement based on what you are entitled to. They offer money based on the risk of what you might receive by way of an award. Generally, they will try and settle a claim or potential claim for as little as they reasonable can in order to close off a risk.
A lawyer will work for you. Many lawyers offer a free consultation. I find I ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening during a consultation. I try to give my client an understanding of the legal issues arising in their circumstances, and what the options are going forward.
Assert your rights. Over the years I have come to understand that people almost always benefit from at least consulting with a lawyer before trying to settle with an insurance company. There is a significant imbalance between a lone individual and a huge insurance company. A lawyer has the knowledge to help level the playing field. In my experience insurers will see a greater risk when dealing with an injured person who is represented by a lawyer. Greater risk to insurers leads to better settlements.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This publication is the tenth installment of our firm’s Legal Matters series, which answers a reader’s question every week. If you have a general legal question that you would like to have addressed please send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.