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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: The Legal Corner: What every automobile accident victim needs to know

May 18, 2010

Automobile accidents are one of the most common ways that people get involved with insurance companies, lawyers and the courts. Oftentimes, a person’s first experience with insurance adjusters is through roadway accidents. (Insurance adjusters represent insurance companies and, among other things, try to resolve claims as favorable to the insurance company as possible.) Victims of automobile accidents are often taken advantage of due to their inexperience. If you are injured in an automobile accident, there are several very important things to remember. Fortunately, many of the critical things to do are common sense. However, you should not allow an adjuster to talk you out of doing any of these things.
1. Go see a doctor right away. Many people try to “shake off” an injury and think that it will get better in a couple of days. Do not take chances with your health. An injury from an accident is often internal and gets worse in the days following the accident if left untreated. Moreover, the longer you wait to see a doctor, the more likely it is that the insurance company for the other driver will try to hold it against you.
2. Go to all of your doctor/physical therapy appointments. If you fail to follow the treatment plan provided by your doctor, you may not recover as quickly. Moreover, your failure to cooperate with your doctor will be used against you by an insurance company.
3. The insurance adjustor is not your friend. Although this may be your first experience with an insurance adjustor, you are one of hundreds of case files that the insurance adjustor has. Even a well meaning insurance adjustor has a job to do – to make sure that your claim comes in as low as possible no matter what your injuries.
Shortly after an accident, you may receive a call from a “very nice” person seeking to pay you for your injury. Beware. This call will be from an insurance adjustor who will try to convince you to settle your case for far less than it is worth. This is the insurance adjustor’s job. Under New Hampshire law, accident victims are entitled to several different types of monetary damages. The most common are medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Insurance adjustors will often try to convince you to settle solely for your medical expenses. Moreover, insurance adjustors may try to get you to settle your case before your medical treatment is even finished.
4. Be careful what you say to an insurance adjustor. Insurance companies may try to use anything and everything that you say against you. Additionally, do not agree to let the insurance adjustor record a statement from you without talking to an attorney first.
While individuals can adequately represent themselves in certain cases, in automobile accident cases, however, you should seriously consider hiring an attorney. There are two important reasons why. First, and perhaps most important, is that most attorneys do not require you to pay any up-front fees for representation in accident cases. The typical attorney-client fee agreement is a contingency agreement. In this type of agreement, the attorney agrees to represent you for no up-front costs in exchange for one-third of the total recovery. If you recover nothing, your attorney recovers nothing.
The second important reason for hiring a lawyer in these cases is that insurance adjustors usually will raise their settlement offers when they know a lawyer is involved. I have had numerous cases where an individual negotiated directly with an insurance company for several months, receiving very low offers. After being hired, when I wrote a demand letter to the insurance company indicating that I was representing the individual, the offer immediately doubled, and we continued to negotiate up from that point. The reason for this increase is simply that when you hire an attorney in automobile accident cases, the insurance companies know that they cannot take advantage of you. Moreover, they know that if they do not present a reasonable offer, you have the means to file a case in court, and take it to trial if necessary. While no attorney can guarantee a result, hiring an attorney in automobile accident cases, and other personal injury cases, often produces better results with no up-front costs.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay