From time to time we hear stories that a lot of people are settling their claims without getting legal advice.
From time to time we also get calls from people who have settled their claims, many some years ago, and they’ve now realised that the settlement figure was not enough: the money has gone; they have still not properly returned to full-time work; or they are still incurring treatment expenses well past when they expected to have recovered, and they call asking if they can reopen their case with the insurance company.
But on the other hand people are scared of getting lawyers involved. They are concerned that by getting a lawyer on-board that their claim could be delayed for months – why not take a bit less money and get the claim done now, out of the way, quick, easy, no bother, money in the bank? They are also scared of the legal fees and costs – people are concerned that a lawyer might get you a bit more but ……then take a large chunk for their own legal fees leaving you worse off?
Our experience is that the risks to you in settling your claim without getting expert advice, balanced against any delay or added cost, you definitely should get independent experienced advice, you will be better off, and the added benefits far outweigh any cost. A couple of things to keep in mind when you have been made an offer:
- Insurance companies are generally not bad people and they often go out of their way to genuinely try to help you. But the insurance company does not insure you: they insure the other party – your employer; the other driver; the owner of the supermarket, etc. The insurance company has contractual obligations to its client, the policy holder, and not to you.
- When settling your claim it is your responsibility, not the insurance company’s responsibility, to make sure that the settlement money is fair, is what you are entitled to, and will cover you for your losses, both past and future. You have to live with your injuries; you will have to live with the consequences, not the insurance company.
- Settlements come with consequences: you need to consider the effect on things such as:
- Any Medicare recovery;
- Any Centrelink recovery;
- Any recovery by another insurer, such as an income protection or TPD insurer;
- Claims by doctors for treatment that remains unpaid;
- Some workers compensation settlements are conditional on you resigning from your job.
- Settlements are usually final: once you settle you cannot come back later and argue that the settlement money was not enough or didn’t cover all of your bills. Once settled the insurance company will close the claim and your rights are forever finalised.
But if you have been dealing with your claim all this time on your own and things have been going pretty well and now you have now been made an offer that you think looks pretty fair, what about the cost and the delay if you chat to a lawyer?
- Personal Injury lawyers, such as Lian Hall Injury Law, have years of experience in settling claims and can give you valuable guidance in thinking abt:
- What you can claim and what you can’t claim;
- How much you can claim;
- How to make the claim;
- What to consider in your particular circumstances before you settle your claim;
- The implications on any future rights when you settle;
- Any deductions that will be applied to your settlement money;
- How you pay for any future treatment that pops up;
- The effect on future employment;
- What will be deducted by Medicare and Centrelink and how to build that into your settlement.
- The future is a very big unknown. Are you sure that your injuries will go the way that you think they will? While the insurance company may have sent you to a doctor to look at how your injuries will affect you in the years ahead, Lian Hall Injury Law will arrange an independent specialist doctor to have a good look at your injuries. We will look into your specific injuries and your specific future needs. That way you can go into the settlement discussions confident that you have had an independent assessment, ‘a second opinion’, on when you will recover, what treatment might help you in the future, and how your injuries may affect you and your work in the years to come.
- It is highly likely that you will get a better offer from the insurance company once a lawyer is involved. This is largely because your lawyer is experienced in how your injuries will affect you in the future and is experienced in knowing what you can claim and how much you can claim and we have gone out and got the evidence to put you in the very best position. Lawyers are also on your side – they go in and fight for you. Insurance companies have to consider their policy holder, the customer who paid the premium and paid for the policy – your lawyer is only concerned about you.
- Personal Injury Lawyers such as Lian Hall Injury Law work on a no-win no-fee basis. That typically means that if you have been made an offer, and if after getting advice you don’t get more than you have already been offered, then we will not charge you.
If you have been made an offer to settle your claim there are very good reasons to get advice, and no reason at all to not get advice: you will get valuable experience on your side; you will get a second opinion; and it is likely that you will get a better settlement. And, if you are no better off it will not cost you anything.
Give us a call for a free no obligations chat about the offer that you received.