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Don Jacobs
Don Jacobs
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Is an Oral Agreement Valid?

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A not entirely new practice by insurance companies is being used more and more lately. Oral releases. Calling up an injured consumer after an accident and asking if they want to settle over the phone. Insurance companies train adjusters to make immediate contact after an accident. Often before the injured party has called a lawyer or has any idea about their rights or the value of their case. If they express uncertainty or mention maybe talking to an attorney first, the adjuster is trained to say “We pay the same amount for these claims whether people get a lawyer or not. Hiring a lawyer will just mean giving up a third of your settlement”. People are usually somewhat vulnerable after an injury accident. They are afraid of missing wages because they might not be able to work. Sometimes they are intimidated by the adjuster. After all, he is the “expert” in this area. Lots of uncertainty is present. This is particularly true of young people or people not versed in the law. So they make a rash and hasty decision to settle over the phone. When a day or two passes and they call someone for legal advice they often find out they settled for a lot less than the case was worth. They try to get out of the agreement thinking since they never signed anything, they can’t be held to the deal. Unfortunately, the law in many states allows oral agreements. Having a recording just makes it so the person can’t deny accepting the offer. The injured consumer just learned a tough lesson. And the insurance company benefited. Play it safe. Never agree to a settlement over the phone without first running your case by a lawyer specializing in this area of the law. The call is usually free. If they offer an amount to entice you, rest assured the amount will still be there the next day. Maybe a lawyer will advise you the offer is fair. You have nothing to lose but a day or two.