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Without a Lawyer Can I Settle My Auto Injury Case?

Steven Matz
May 25, 2023 | Car Accident

After an accident, the other driver’s insurance company might contact you or a family member. The insurance adjuster will try to assure you that the company wants to deal with you fairly and pay you the compensation you deserve as a result of the negligence of their insured client.

They will ask you questions about what happened and want details pertaining to the injuries you acquired. If the victim is your family member who was fatally injured, the adjuster will want to know more about the deceased person. Unfortunately, they may record the telephone conversation without telling you — a fact that can haunt you later as your earlier statements “backfire.”

All of these questions may seem reasonable, and you may believe you can trust what the adjuster is saying because the accident and resulting injuries were certainly their client’s fault. However, insurance adjusters do not protect your best interest, and they will seek ways to lower your compensation.

You deserve fair compensation, but do you need to secure a lawyer to get it? Continue reading to learn the benefits of hiring a Michigan car accident attorney and why taking this route often leads to more suitable outcomes for Michigan accident victims.

Michigan Auto Injury Laws

man wearing a neck brace

What you may not know about Michigan law is that to qualify for any money at all against the other driver for your pain and suffering (even if the other driver is 100 percent at fault), you have to have “serious” injuries that impair you, or have severe scarring, brain injury, or loss of life.

There is no precise definition of a “serious” injury. Still, it usually takes more than muscle strains or bruises to interest an insurance company in offering you any money. They don’t care if your car was wrecked and you cannot get to work or if your spouse had to find a babysitter for two days while you were in the hospital. It’s not as simple as you might think to get compensation for an auto injury.

The insurance company will stay in touch with you, assuring you that they care about your recovery and reminding you that if you don’t hire a lawyer, you won’t have to pay attorney fees. The insurance company may even offer to pay a lawyer for you to go to court to finalize a settlement for a child who was hurt in the collision or on behalf of a family member whom you lost in the collision (some cases have to have court approval even if you think you have a “done deal” with the insurance company).

Insurance Companies in the Legal Process

While there is no reason to think that the insurance company will lie to you about how much insurance coverage is available to cover the person who caused the accident, they are under no obligation to tell you if other people, including you, may have had additional coverages that could add to the amount of money you could get.

While in many Michigan accident cases, there is more insurance available than may at first appear, the fact is that settling with one insurance company can cause you to lose your right to get more money from other policies, even if you find out later that you could have received more. Examples of cases that have to settle in a certain order are dram shop claims against the establishment that served a drunk driver or underinsurance claims on your no-fault policy.

Who Is Responsible?

In some cases, other people or companies could be responsible for paying damages if you only knew where to look. For example, an office worker driving home after punching out at work who stops to deliver some papers to a client may cause an accident.

The office worker may only have limited insurance coverage to pay for the pain and suffering of the crash victims, and the insurance adjuster would be telling you the truth about that, as far as it goes. However, even though the clerk had punched out for the day, they may still be considered acting for the employer at the time of the crash (delivering documents), meaning the employer’s insurance might also be available to cover your losses.

What to Remember When Dealing With Insurance Companies

The first and most important thing to remember when dealing with insurance companies is that they are not your friend. They will, at least at first, be friendly and cordial, but they are not interested in paying your insurance claim, and they will use your insurance policy against you if they can to get out of paying out the fair compensation you deserve. Beyond that, remember when dealing with insurance companies never to admit fault, never release medical records, recognize that you are not a priority to the insurance company, never go on record, and watch out for quick injury claim settlement offers.

Never Admit Fault

When you speak to the insurance company after your Michigan car accident, never say anything that could be construed as you admitting fault for the accident. Under Michigan fault law, if you are even partly at fault for an accident, your injury award could be reduced, and insurance companies may use fault as an excuse to deny you coverage. As such, remove the word “sorry” from your vocabulary, and stick strictly to the facts when you speak with them. Never embellish and never volunteer extra information.

Do Not Release Your Medical Records

The car insurance company will ask you to release medical records for them, possibly claiming it is to prove that you received medical attention. This is another tactic they can use to deny your Michigan car accident claim. You are not required to permit them to view your medical records, nor should you do so. There is no reason they need to view them. The time may come when they need to know your medical bills and medical expenses, but your auto accident attorney will let you know when this time comes.

Your Interest is Not Their Priority

The auto insurance company is a for-profit business. This means they are in it to make money, not to pay car accident settlements. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is true. Too many car accident victims find out the hard way that the insurance company is not on their side. Even your own insurance company wants to avoid payouts, no matter how compassionate they seem. Their priority is to avoid paying and to make profits.

Do Not Go on Record

Never agree to put anything you say on the record. If you do, it becomes available to any parties involved with your case. If the insurance company tells you they need you to go on record, it is a red flag that they are trying to get you to somehow incriminate yourself.

Watch for Quick Settlement Offers

A common tactic among insurance companies is to tender quick settlement offers, then pressure you to sign off. These are almost always undervalued offers that will barely cover a portion of your medical expenses and certainly will not cover your growing bills for medical treatment, property damage to your motor vehicle, wage loss, replacement services, and other economic and non-economic damages related to your serious injuries.

Sometimes they might tell you that your signature is necessary to start paying your claim. This is not true. What is true is that the moment you sign off on this offer, you may lose your ability to collect the more significant fair compensation you deserve.

A Michigan Car Accident Lawyer Can Communicate for You

If you are in a car crash or truck accident, you do not need to speak to the insurance company directly. Your personal injury lawyer can handle the communications to protect your rights. If you were in a Michigan car accident, our personal injury attorneys at Matz Injury Law are ready to listen. Call us today at 1-866-22Not33 or use our online contact form for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Can I Make a Personal Injury Claim for Pain and Suffering Without a Lawyer?

Michigan nofault laws are in place to expedite injury claims after a motor vehicle accident. When you are in an accident in Michigan, you file your claim under your no-fault insurance policy with your own insurance company. No-fault insurance is required for all drivers registered in Michigan. It is supposed to cover your wage loss, medical bills, and replacement services.

No-fault benefits do not cover pain and suffering or non-economic damages. It can be difficult under no-fault laws to sue the at-fault driver’s insurance for these. Still, if you have suffered severe injuries, such as those resulting in significant impairment or disfigurement, or have lost a loved one to a wrongful death, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver.

Getting compensation for serious pain and suffering is not an easy task in Michigan. While the law does not require you to have legal representation, it is important to seek legal advice and services from a qualified, experienced attorney at a Michigan car accident law firm. This will improve your chances of fair compensation

What Evidence Will I Need to Settle an Automobile Accident Injury Case in Michigan?

You must gather a few pieces of evidence to pursue your accident injury case in Michigan. These will support your claim and help you to recall the details of your account of what happened.

Police Report

A police report cannot be used as evidence. However, you will need to repeat your story several times, and it can get tricky to remember details as time passes. The police report will provide vital information to help you remember what happened.

Medical Records

Your medical records will clearly show that you were injured and outline the costs of your treatment. This will be essential to getting the full amount you are entitled to under your no-fault benefits.

Witness Statements

If you can, get the contact information of any witnesses willing to speak about what they saw. These witness statements will be an essential part of backing up your account of what happened when the time comes to fight for benefits.

Photos of the Scene

There is an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is true regarding the car accident scene. The more photos you take from the most angles possible, the better off your case will be.

Do I Need a Demand Letter?

Yes, a demand letter is essential to your lawsuit. You must compose and send a detailed demand letter to the insurance company to show the extent of your injuries and outline the need for compensation.

What Risks Are Associated With Settling My Michigan Car Accident Claim Without a Car Accident Lawyer?

Quite simply, without an attorney, you run the risk of settling for less than you deserve or even losing your claim altogether. There is a chance you can be persuaded into signing a quick, undervalued settlement and forgoing your rights to future compensation. Signing off before you know the full extent of your injuries can result in a settlement that does not even cover the basics of your recovery.

An attorney can also help you gather all the evidence required to make the best possible claim. They know insurance adjusters’ tactics and can counter them to help you fight for the full compensation you deserve.

Can I Counter a Car Accident Settlement Offer?

man wearing a neck and arm brace signing paperwork

Certainly. Not only can you counter a settlement claim, but this almost always happens. If you do not think the insurance company is providing a fair settlement offer, you can counter their offer with a new one or deny them outright. If you reject the offer, your case may go to court to resolve the issue. The same occurs if the insurance company rejects your counteroffer.

Remember, however, that if you take a settlement, you give up any right to a claim in the future. This is why it is important to understand the full extent of your injuries and the compensation you need to settle your case.

The Insurance Adjuster is Not on Your Side

There are certainly some cases where it will turn out that a lawyer can’t get you any more money than you could have received on your own. However, the risk that you won’t know where and how far to look for other coverages is much greater than the chance that you can navigate the legal system as skillfully as a lawyer. You should seek legal help with your auto, truck, or motorcycle collision case if you want a stronger chance of winning a fair settlement.

Consider interviewing an attorney experienced in the personal injury field who will negotiate the percentage fee you will pay upon settling your case. Michigan‘s maximum fee for injury cases is 33 ⅓ percent of the net recovery. At Matz Injury Law, we charge just 22 percent, meaning you keep more of your settlement. To speak with an experienced car accident attorney, contact us through our online form or call 1-866-22Not33 today.

steven matz headshot

Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.