Question

Why Ask For Legal Advice Before Signing An Insurance Settlement After A Texas Personal Injury?

Daniel J. Christensen

Answered by:
Daniel J. Christensen

Located in Austin, TX
DC Law

Daniel J. Christensen - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Daniel J. Christensen

DC Law
Austin, TX

Fax: 512-220-1801

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Answer

If you have been in an accident in Texas, you must speak to an attorney before accepting an offer from an insurance company, whether over the phone or in writing. This is because insurance companies are always looking to save money, and often utilize a strategy popularly called the “swoop and settle.” An agent of the company swoops in days after an accident and offers an amount of money, often unprompted. The money may feel like a lot at the time, and you may think you need to accept or you will not get anything. Often, individuals who are not wealthy or who do not know better will simply accept and sign a document – which then releases the insurance company from responsibility. 

Why Insurance Companies Try To Get You To Settle Quickly 

However, the amount of money is often actually a very small amount of money compared to what you might be able to get in court, and if you agree to the offer, you are unknowingly settling the case for well below what it is worth. When they do this, insurance companies are taking advantage of the fact that lawyers are actually not allowed to reach out to people to offer their services. They may advertise generally, but ethics rules stop them from soliciting clients or contacting specific people. So, people who have been injured often do not have a lawyer yet when these companies try to settle with them. This is the goal of the insurance company, which knows that without advice of counsel, a cheap settlement is more likely. 

Unfortunately, people who are particularly vulnerable to this strategy include those who do not often deal with the law, or who do not speak English, but anyone can fall victim to it. Imagine: you are in a tremendous collision, causing significant injury. Insurance comes in within 48 hours and offers you $1,500. This can feel like a lot of money when you really need it: you know you are looking at car repairs and expensive medical bills. You take the money, thinking you can always appeal later if you need more. However, when you sign that release, the claim is over. You cannot ever ask for more. 

Asking For A Legal Opinion Can Really Help You 

This relatively recent strategy has hurt a lot of people. If you are in an accident, remember the statute of limitations in Texas is two years. You have time to think about it and fight for your best option. If you call a lawyer, they will advise you not to sign anything, and if you choose to retain that firm as representation, they will work hard to maximize the value of your claim. 

There is no need to worry about the cost of representation either in most cases. Often, attorneys take personal injury cases on a contingency basis, which means that you do not pay them throughout the case; they take their payment after your case is successful and you receive your settlement. Hopefully, you can end up with compensation that covers your full needs.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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