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It’s not unusual for an injured person to try and settle his own claim before hiring a lawyer. Perhaps this will make them think twice. Today I received a two letters from an acquaintance of mine, another lawyer in town. The first letter was dated Nov. 12, 2007 from a Farmers adjuster directly to the client. In that letter, Farmers offered to settle the claim for $3,378.57. The second was a letter to the lawyer, dated March 3, 2009, confirming that the claim settled, after the victim hired a lawyer, for $200,000.00.

Now obviously, lawyers can’t make a difference like that in every case, but in most cases, it’s well worth the time and expense to hire a lawyer. And if it isn’t worth it, I’ll be the first one to tell a potential client that they could probably do better without me by settling it on their own.

But by and large, insurance companies need to know that the injured person has a lawyer and that the lawyer is willing to take the case forward. I have my own example of this from last month. I had a client that was represented by a lawyer from out-of-state. Apparently the adjuster didn’t think the lawyer was serious about pursuing the claim, and the adjuster wouldn’t offer a fair value. As the statute of limitations approached, the out-of-state lawyer referred the case to me, and I filed suit. On the Friday before the trial, the case settled for about four times the amount the adjuster had offered the first lawyer.

If you have a claim, it’s important that the insurance companies know that you’re willing to take the time to pursue it fully. If you’re trying to represent yourself or you have a lawyer that the insurance company doesn’t think will pursue the claim, you probably won’t get a fair recovery.

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