Car accident. Insurance adjuster won’t return my calls. What should I do?
An insurance adjuster's failure to return calls is not uncommon. In fact, it's the norm. An adjuster's MO is to ignore, delay, and deny fault. They are in no hurry to give you money for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain. In the claims adjuster's playbook: If they delay long enough, string you along, and make you jump through enough hoops by requiring endless documentation, you may eventually give up and walk away. And the claims adjuster gets a gold star for another claim successfully closed.
What Should You Do? Don't let the insurance company call the shots and dictate the timeline. You should call and get an opinion from an experienced personal injury lawyer. If the attorney thinks you need legal representation and is willing to take your case, hire the lawyer. The vast majority of the time, you will have a better outcome of your case and end up with more money in your pocket if you have an attorney – even taking into account the lawyer's legal fees.
What Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge? Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means that you don't pay them any money upfront. The law firm fronts the costs to work up the case, and is paid at the end of the case out of the money the lawyer recovers for you. The vast majority of California personal injury lawyers charge the same fee: 33 1/3% if the case settles before a lawsuit is filed, and 40% if it settles after a lawsuit is filed. For minors (under 18 years old), they charge 25%, whether it settles before or after a lawsuit is filed. All personal injury lawyers give free consultations.
33 1/3% or 40% may sound like a lot, but keep in mind: if it means more money in your pocket – it's worth it. And not only will you likely get more money in your pocket, your lawyer is doing all the work, handling all the aggravation, and looking out for you. You get to focus on recovering from your injuries and getting back to work. Your lawyer is making sure you are getting the medical treatment you need, by the right medical specialists. That could mean an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist, a podiatrist, an ophthalmologist, or a cosmetic surgeon. Your lawyer can set it up for you to treat with a medical provider on a "lien basis" – that means that doctor agrees to wait to be paid until your case settles.
You and the attorney are a team. The contingency fee means that the lawyer's interests are aligned with yours. The more money the law firm gets you, the more money the law firm gets itself.
Bottom line: Run your case by a car accident lawyer. Even if you choose not to hire the lawyer or the lawyer does not want your case, he or she will give you free advice and guidance. You have nothing to lose.