Immediate Action Is Required After Injury
After an accident the victim and their family are ensnared in the chaos of shock, pain, trauma care, and uncertainty. Lives are up-ended. But for the other driver’s insurance adjuster, who will manage the claim against your interests, time is essential. They know that with each passing day the power of evidence, favorable to you, fades.
It is important that your evidence be obtained quickly. If it is not carefully collected and preserved, your claim will later lose credibility. It is essential that all witnesses be personally interviewed while their memories are fresh. Even the recollections of the victim are subject to fogging. Those impressions must carefully be recorded as well.
The insurance company representatives will begin working immediately to frame all facts and impressions in their favor. They also know that there are different statutes of limitation governing various claims. If an action is not filed within the proper timeframe, then the insurance company will have to pay nothing because all your rights will have been waived.
Insurance company representatives usually will ask you to provide a telephone statement about the accident and your injuries. Often, they will ask questions which are skewed to the benefit of the company. These recordings, of each detail you state, will be typed into a transcript. Later this will be used against you during settlement negotiation or trial.
By taking immediate action, you can preserve your right to fair consideration of the value of your claim.
Taking Photographs Or Video Must Be Done Today
It is critically important that valuable photographic evidence, whether still pictures or video, be preserved. These should be taken of each involved vehicle, as well as the entire scene where the negligence took place.
Photographs of all your visible injuries should be taken, and from various angles. Lacerations and bruises are usually not primary personal injuries. However, they can help provide an overall impression of the damages sustained. These photos need to be followed up periodically, to show the course of healing during the treatment.
The insurance companies will do whatever they can to minimize your suffering and treatment. Photographs and video provide powerful evidence of the full dimension of your misery.
Insurance Companies Want You To Rely On Their Representations
Insurance companies will often encourage families not to seek legal counsel, but instead to rely on their statements about what constitutes fair compensation. However their allegiance is to the insurance company, not you, even if it’s your own insurance company. This is why adjusters are adamant you provide them with a recorded statement, so they can create a compromising transcript.
The Insurance Research Council has completed studies which reveal that accident victims – even after paying the customary one-third contingent fee – receive over twice as much money as those who do not obtain a lawyer.
Insurance Companies Train Adjusters To Avoid Paying What Is Fairly Owed
Insurance companies are multi-billion dollar industries. They are strictly profit-based and, like any other corporation, their loyalties are to their shareholders. They will not focus on fairness or your needs. The medical gauntlet which you have to run is not their concern. They will try to pay as little as possible.
Many claimants have to turn to their own insurance company because the person responsible for their injuries has either no insurance or very little coverage. These claims involve uninsured or underinsured motorists’ coverage from your own policy.
It is commonly believed that “my company will do the right thing.” This is rarely the case. Adjusters are extensively schooled in applying many subtle techniques to limit the value of your claim. They frequently attend corporate-led training seminars to keep their nuanced skills refined.
You may have been with the same auto insurer for many years. But it would be wrong to assume they will return loyalty in your time of need. It doesn’t work that way. Those who drive with their insurance company’s decal on their back bumper naively exhibit brand loyalty. When they turn to their own insurer for compensation, what they find is that they are regarded no differently than any other claimant.
Insurance companies rely on mass advertising to recruit new business. They will not hesitate to fight a long-term customer. This especially is true of Allstate and State Farm.
Insurance Companies Will Look To The Extent of Car Damage if it Favors Their Position; They Will Ignore It If It Doesn’t
A favorite tactic of insurance adjusters is to examine photographs of your car. If the car does not appear significantly damaged, they will claim you could not have been badly hurt. Adjusters routinely disregard expert studies which clearly demonstrate that tremendous force transfer can take place in steel, without obvious crushing or buckling.
Yet if your vehicle is damaged beyond all recognition, the same adjuster will say “that doesn’t mean those inside were hurt.” Insurance companies will interpret property damage only through a lens which favors their core interest. And that is to prevent you, the claimant, from obtaining reasonable compensation.
Insurance Companies Give Little Consideration To Claims. Most Have Greatly Reduced Their Staff In Order To Increase Their Profits
Until about 15 years ago, insurance companies had many adjusters on staff to evaluate claims. When they discovered the computer age, most companies laid off large numbers of staff. The few adjusters today spend little time considering the many ways entire families are grossly disrupted by the serious injuries or death of one of their members.
Most insurance companies today purchase space on massive computer systems to evaluate cases. Colossus is the program most favored by the majority of insurers. Some other programs are Claims Outcome Advisor and also Injury Claims Evaluation.
The trick of the insurance industry is to program their software to favor themselves. Their clerks key in very select, limited medical information from your treatment history. This skewed data from your records may include the number of doctors you saw, the physicians’ specialties, the diagnoses and treatments, duration of care, how many surgeries and so on.
With the totality of your claim framed in favor of the insurance company, their offer range is typically far below fair and reasonable value.
The Insurance Companies Are Wary Of Jury Verdicts And Bad Faith Claims Against Them
Insurance adjusters in this impersonal age of Colossus often have a “take it or leave it” attitude, as to their settlement offer. They have learned that many lawyers – and their clients – will be reluctant to challenge their initial low offer because of all that is involved in protecting rights in court. The adjuster’s central strategy is to “bankrupt the claim.” This means they want the claimant in the position of only being able to hope for, at best, a pyrrhic victory. They try to push you into the feeble position that the costs to challenge them will be more, in time and money, than you can hope to win in court.
Many insurance companies, however, have lost “bad faith” claims that have cost them hundreds of millions of dollars. They know the law requires insurers not to compromise drastically the rights of the plaintiff. If that is proven, then they can lose big in a separate action grounded in “bad faith.” They have a lot to risk if they persist in unfair play. The law charges insurers with obligations to treat claimants fairly, to reveal benefits available, in addition to time limits and coverage limits involved.
My over 30 years of experience practicing injury law bear out what statistics have established. The insurance companies which will cause you the most trouble are Allstate, State Farm, Grange and Hartford. The companies somewhat more inclined to treat claimants fairly are AMICA, Cincinnati Insurance, Fireman’s Fund and Chubb.