Mississippi Car Accident Attorney: When Do You Need a Lawyer?

This video features Merrida Coxwell, a Personal Injury attorney based in Mississippi.

Jackson, MS Injury Attorney Merrida Coxwell Explains

Video Transcript:

Merrida Coxwell:

Get checked out completely, 100%. Once you make an agreement or go to trial and present your case to the jury, you don't get a second chance.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you've been injured in a car crash, how can you be sure you're getting all the compensation you deserve? Well, that's what we're going to find out right now as we ask the lawyer. Hi again, everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com, and our guest is Mississippi attorney Merrida Coxwell. 

I want to remind you, if you want to ask Merrida a question about your specific situation, head over to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the page that says “Ask a Lawyer”, and you can do that right there; it doesn't cost anything to ask a question. Merrida, as always a pleasure to see you. Thank you for helping us out. 

Merrida Coxwell:

You're welcome. Good to see you again, Rob.

Rob Rosenthal:

People probably figure that with an injury claim after an auto accident, I can probably handle that on my own; I don't need an attorney. What’s your advice? Are people generally equipped to handle these kinds of things on their own?

Merrida Coxwell:

Well, I think I've said this before, but if you have no injury whatsoever, and you know that beyond any doubt, maybe that's true—but if you have an injury and you try to do it on your own, you are going to be going against insurance adjusters who are trained to save the company money. It's not like the internet where you can point and click. You're going to be dealing with seasoned adversaries, and we believe that if you have an injury, you do need a lawyer.

Rob Rosenthal:

Someone who, on your side who is seasoned, you've had a lot of experience with this sort of thing, Merrida. What are some of the areas that people might not even think about that they could look for damages and that sort of thing?

Merrida Coxwell:

Well, probably one of the largest is people forget about future medical expenses. They sometimes forget about expenses that don't crop up a lot, like the ambulance took him to the hospital, and they don't think of that as an expense. Of course, if you have a traumatic brain injury that can manifest itself real mildly and be very serious; now many people can get over traumatic brain injuries, but some people do not, and I tell everyone, get checked out completely 100%, because once you make an agreement or go to trial and present your case to the jury, you don't get a second chance.

Rob Rosenthal:

But what if somebody’s injuries mean they can't work or can't do the same job they were doing before? What about lost earning power? Is that something?

Merrida Coxwell:

Well, that's absolutely a level of damage and once again that requires expert testimony. You know, you have to hire an economist to figure out what the person—this is over-simplified—but what the person would make over his lifetime and the economist has to reduce how much they would have consumed because we consume our money by buying things every day, but that's very complicated and it's expert testimony and experts can disagree. So choosing the right attorney and choosing the right expert is very important in that area so you don't get cheated.

Rob Rosenthal:

So let's say there's an accident with injuries—let's even say serious injuries—someone who may not know better, Merrida, may think, “Well, the insurance company and the policy for the other person is X number of dollars. They’re going to offer me that X number of dollars. They're going to go to the limit on the policy.” Is that what usually happens?

Merrida Coxwell:

Well, Rob, that's a big question. I'll try to make it very simple. We've had catastrophic cases where the person who caused the injury only had $25,000 in coverage. That's all there is. And if the person injured did not have a large uninsured motorist coverage, then yes, it can happen where the insurance company might say, “Here's the $25,000. Now go away.” But if you're injured by a corporation or a trucking company, you have to push for every fair and reasonable dime that you deserve, because the way that the insurance company saves money is about paying small amounts of claims.

Rob Rosenthal:

I'm guessing the initial offer that maybe the insurance company offers to someone who's injured is probably not going to be the highest offer or the highest amount.

Merrida Coxwell:

I'm sorry about laughing, but we had a case where we started the settlement process in which our initial offer was $3 million, and the insurance company’s was $10,000, so that case was resolved for $23 million, but you see where they started. And that happens every time. 

Rob Rosenthal:

I think that's probably partially the answer to my next question, which is, what if somebody says, “I don't know if I can afford an attorney. By the time I pay for attorney's fees, I may come out worse than if I had just handled it myself.”

Merrida Coxwell:

Well, I don't know that we've ever had anybody come out worse than if they handled it for themselves. I am confident—and of course a person can say, well, this is what you do for a living, this is what you make your living off of, and that's partially true—but we have always gotten clients more money than they're ever going to get themselves by trying to deal with the insurance company. If we can't, then I have actually told a lady before, there's only $25,000 in insurance and you have a horrible injury; you don't need me. Now, maybe other lawyers don't like to hear that and they think that's foolish of me to say, but being truthful and trustworthy is why we get a lot of business.

Rob Rosenthal:

Let's talk about that. If they're not sure if they need you, Merrida, and they're not sure if they have a case, do they need to worry about how much it's going to cost to talk to you and find out if you think they have a case?

Merrida Coxwell:

No. We don't charge for initial conferences. Most of those nowadays are done over the phone; it's amazing the number of people that would rather Zoom or talk over the telephone. COVID has kind of taught people that it's not necessary to come in now. But we won't get started on a case—especially a serious case—until that client comes in, but we have no problem talking on the phone or talking by Zoom.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you don't recover do they still have to worry about paying?

Merrida Coxwell:

No, all these are done on a contingency fee. I imagine in our modern world, clients have probably Googled all these issues and know as much about hiring a lawyer as a lawyer can explain to them, but no, if we don't win the clients do not pay. In some instances with some cases, we've had to cut the attorney's fees because the expenses ran so high; so our goal is to make sure the client's happy.

Rob Rosenthal:

Lots of great information as always, Merrida. Thank you so much for making some time to answer our questions. I appreciate it. 

Merrida Coxwell:

You're welcome. Thank you. 

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Mississippi attorney Merrida Coxwell. I do want to remind you, if you'd like to ask Merrida questions about your specific situation, it's easy to head over to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the page that says “Ask a Lawyer”, and it will walk you right through the process right there. Thanks for watching, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

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