I was involved in an accident and the other driver was insured by Allstate. I have received a letter from Allstate telling me that I don't need a lawyer. Is this true?

Since 1995, Allstate insurance company has been sending a letter to people injured by its policy holders.

The letter, entitled "Do I Need an Attorney?", makes the following claims:

  • Claims are settled faster when a lawyer is not involved.
  • Lawyers charge a percentage of the recovery plus expenses, but if you settle with Allstate you keep the entire amount.
  • Victims can hire a lawyer at a later date if they are not satisfied with Allstate's offer to settle your case.
  • Victims can negotiate a settlement with Allstate first, then hire an attorney and insist his fee be based only on the amount recovered above the Allstate offer.

Make no mistake about it, Allstate is not looking out for your interests.  The insurance industry's own statistics demonstrate that it costs the insurance company an average of $9,000 more per claim when an attorney is involved for the injured person.  The truth is that you should never settle a personal injury claim without consulting with an attorney.  We never charge a fee for meeting with injured people and answering all of their questions in order that they can make a fully informed decision as to whether to hire an attorney who will be looking out for their rights.

No insurance company is going to spend the time to discuss with you, in an unbiased fashion, the following topics:

  • The reasonable value of your case when compared to similar cases.
  • Why delaying settlement of your case is sometimes in your best interests.
  • The availability of other types of insurance payments to pay your bills, including medical payments, health insurance, worker's compensation, and the relationship between each.

Allstate's letter does not tell you that in some instances, you must pay a portion of what you get from Allstate back to another insurance company.  Nor would you be advised by Allstate's letter that some of these additional sources of funds require you to give prompt notice of the claim to the entity involved.   Whether you should seek additional medical care and what medical specialist might have insight into your particular problem.  Time and time again we have heard from clients that insurance adjusters tried to make them believe that it was the insurance company's decision as to whether you should see a medical specialist.  How your settlement with the insurance company may affect other claims arising out of the accident, including medical malpractice claims and claims against other defendants.  Release of your automobile accident claim may be argued to be a release of a doctor's negligence, even thought the doctor does not operate on until much later.   Whether you should, as Allstate will request, give authorization to the insurance company to obtain all of your medical records and wage information.  Do you even know what is in those records?  Irrelevant entries in medical charts may be used against you if the case does not settle.

You can order a FREE copy of our consumer guide, The Five Deadly Sins That Can Wreck Your Injury Claim, to learn more about personal injury claims.

If you have a question for Ben, you can submit it confidentially online at JustAskBenGlass.com.

Ben Glass
Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney