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Do I need to hire an injury attorney? Part 2 – When the adjuster sends you a legal release

February 23, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan injury attorney explains how you can protect your No-fault insurance benefits and your right to sue for pain and suffering

Yesterday, I posted a YouTube video called “Defense lawyer versus insurance adjuster.” It’s a video making the rounds with adjusters and injury lawyers. But the video is also a good example of what often lies in wait when people are contacted by insurance company adjusters after being injured in car accidents.

There are four specific types of cases where it’s imperative to at least TALK with a Michigan injury attorney – to protect yourself following a car accident.

No. 1 – Any car accident where the insurance adjuster sends you a release

With any car accident case involving a release, you really must at least talk with an experienced personal injury attorney.

True story: Three people were injured in a car accident in Michigan. They contacted their own No-Fault insurance company, who in this case was Dairyland Insurance Company. Seven days later, the adjuster from Dairyland sent these three people a mini-tort (car damage) release. But this release wasn’t just for the mini-tort. This was a full release that was sent to these injured people for all of their Michigan No-Fault insurance rights – including the right to future No-Fault insurance benefits and the legal right to sue the driver who caused the car accident for pain and suffering damages. In other words, this “mini-tort” release was a full and final legal release that extinguished all of their future legal rights and car accident claims.

And it was sent seven days after the accident… by their own insurance adjuster!

Unfortunately, these unsuspecting auto accident victims spoke with our injury attorneys too late – after they had already signed the release. They unknowingly gave up all of their rights to No-Fault benefits and the right to claim pain and suffering.

What made this so abhorrent was that the release was sent within a week of the car accident. The adjuster knew these people had not spoken with or retained a personal injury attorney, and intentionally took advantage. Heck, people don’t even get a No-Fault application for benefits within seven days of contacting their own auto insurance companies. But in this case, seven days after the car accident, a “representative” from their own insurance company sends them a full release extinguishing all of their legal rights!

This is one of the worst insurance abuse stories I’ve ever seen. In fact, before this I’d never seen an auto insurance company send a binding legal release to its own injured clients that extinguishes all of their legal No-Fault insurance rights and claims SEVEN days after the car accident. A legal release like this is almost always sent at the end of a case, sometimes after a lawsuit has been filed, but always after an injury lawyer has read and reviewed it.

Don’t sign away any legal rights, especially future rights to medical care or your right to sue – without at least talking with an injury attorney first

This is a scary but true example of how important it is to always at least consult with a personal injury attorney before signing ANY sort of legal release after a car accident. Almost all injury attorneys, including our own, will never charge for a consultation. And like Michigan Auto Law, many today will not charge an attorney fee at all, unless there is a legal recovery. Certainly, a good accident lawyer should never charge a dime to answer questions about your No-Fault rights or explain how long you have to file a claim with your own insurance company.

Look, I know some people think talking to a lawyer is scary. But trust me, most of us are actually really nice people who do this type of work because we like people and want to help them. And anyways, even if we are “scary,” signing away and permanently extinguishing all of your legal rights to future medical care or the ability to recover money for serious personal injuries from an at-fault driver has to be a lot scarier, right?

What Diaryland Insurance Company did here was one of the most underhanded tricks I’ve ever seen , but it was also one that any experienced Michigan injury attorney would have spotted in one second. Tomorrow, I’ll blog about the importance of hiring an attorney for any serious car accident case involving Underinsured Motorist insurance coverage.

Steve Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top injury attorneys handling serious car accident and truck accident lawsuits. He routinely writes about insurance company abuse and the No-Fault laws in Michigan, and is available for comment.

Related information:

How to read your Michigan auto insurance policy

Attorneys call out greedy Michigan insurance companies

17 mistakes that can ruin your car accident case

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.

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