Almost without exception, one of the first things a prospective client says to me in the initial telephone consultation is, "I don't even know if I need a lawyer. Do you think I need a lawyer?" Without exception, my response is, "The insurance company already has a lawyer protecting its interests. Who's protecting yours?"
The fact of the matter is that often times, the insurance company has "in-house" counsel, lawyers that are employed by the insurance company itself. Their desks are often right down the hall from the claims representative's desk and they are available all day long for legal questions and strategy. With great confidence, I can assure you that they are not trying to figure out how to maximize your benefit recovery. The insurance company lawyer's job is to see if there is a feasible way to a) deny your claim, or b) minimize your benefits.
While there are times where an injured worker does not NEED a lawyer, it is never unreasonable to have one and it is always advisable to at least TALK to one. "Delay" is the most prevalent complaint we hear from people with claims for which the insurance company has "agreed" to pay benefits. In our experience, the mere presence of an attorney has improved the handling of a claim. The claims representative has many files to handle, often too many files to handle. Unrepresented claimants frequently get pushed aside in favor of their represented counterparts. This is because the claims representative knows that any delay of a represented claimant will result in being hauled into court to explain the delay, resulting in additional expense on the part of the insurance company. If you were the claims representative, which file are you more likely to ignore: the represented claimant for which delay will cost money or the unrepresented claimant for which delay will only result in another telephone message to ignore?
Another advantage from having a lawyer is, quite frankly, your benefit recovery is greater than that of an unrepresented claimant. As an example, shortly after the Missouri Legislature overhauled their workers compensation statutes in 2005, The Missouri Lawyers Weekly did a survey of the average settlement before and after the statutory changes. The survey was cited in an article published on www.allbusiness.com and stated:
According to Division of Workers' Compensation figures, represented workers in the year before the law change earned average settlements that were 38 percent, or $5,600, larger than those who were pro se (unrepresented). However, the gap has widened, with represented workers in the year after the law change getting average settlements that were 49 percent, or $7,300, more on average than those of pro se workers.
Even before the changes, there was a huge difference between the recoveries of represented and unrepresented injured workers and it has only gotten worse since then.
Contacting a lawyer at Haight Stang, LLC doesn't cost you a cent. If you truly do not need a lawyer we will honestly tell you and leave it to you whether you want to retain one anyway. However, it you take a look at our Guarantee and our Pledge, there is literally no downside to hiring a workers compensation professional who's sole purpose is to protect your rights and maximize your recovery. As you read this, you can be assured that the insurance company already has lawyers on its side. So, who's on your side?