Car accidents not planned, but here's what to do next
In the minutes after a car accident, most people are thinking about how they'll get to work the next day or how they're going to make it to their kid's soccer game that afternoon.
They're not thinking about whether their insurance company is going to treat them fairly.
“Dealing with an insurance company – especially your own insurance company – people have no idea how cumbersome that is,” said Paul Powell, the founder of the award winning Powell Law Firm.
Here are some of the common mistakes Powell sees people make before they get to his office.
SIGNING SOMETHING TOO SOON
Powell's talked to dozens of potential clients who told him an insurance agent came to the scene of their accident and offered a check or gift card if they would sign a waiver.
“It's really bad,” Powell said. “They seem to be heavily targeting African American and Hispanic people with this.”
The problem with these offers is that the waiver is essentially a promise not to ask for more money later.
“For most people the way it works after an accident is they might not appreciate that they're hurt because of all the adrenaline,” Powell said. “The next day you might wake up really sore.”
Whiplash, which is one of the most common injuries in an accident, can take up to 24 hours for symptoms to develop, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Powell's advice is to take at least 48 hours before agreeing to any deal from an insurance company.
“The reality is they're going to offer you the same thing three days from then or five days from then,” Powell said.
ACCEPTING LESS FOR THEIR MEDICAL BILLS
When someone goes to their doctor or an emergency room after an accident, they get a bill for those services. There usually isn't any negotiating on the price.
“Insurance companies will say you shouldn't have paid $200. We think the bill should have been $60,” Powell said.
If the insurance company won't budge on the amount of money its offering medical bills, it might be time to call an attorney.
NOT SHOPPING AROUND FOR AN ATTORNEY
All attorneys are not created equal and who someone hires will directly impact how his or her case is resolved.
“Insurance companies know we're willing to go to court,” Powell said. “That impacts their offers.”
Powell's negotiated more than 60 settlements for $1 million or more.
And it's not just the size of a law firm's settlements that matters; what percentage a firm keeps is important for a client to know too.
Powell promises his attorneys won't earn more than their clients. It's even his company motto: More lawyer, less fee.
“Too often, lawyers take advantage of their clients after a settlement by taking excessive money,” Powell said. “How is that fair when you're the one suffering the pain?”
His offices in Las Vegas, Chicago and Denver take it one step further, giving a percentage of each settlement to charity.
In 2017, Powell formed his own non-profit foundation, Paul Pays It Forward.
“I am a firm believer that giving is just as important as receiving. Seeing people’s joy when they are helped knocks some of the rust off the soul. For me personally, our involvement with St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and our work with Make-A-Wish Foundation is monumental.”
“There is a massive need to assist children fighting cancer, and to make their lives as enjoyable as possible while they engage in that fight. Having six children of my own, I can only imagine the difficulty and courage it takes for parents to watch their children go through such an ordeal. To do our small part, we donate a percentage of each case we settle to St. Jude and Make-A-Wish Foundation. We plan to continue this and to increase our philanthropic efforts in the future,” concluded Powell.
This article was presented and sponsored by Powell Law Firm. For more information, go to PaulPowell.com.