hink of it this way. There is an automobile wreck in this country every few seconds. For those that have property damage or injury, the insurance companies will have to pay the claim. For every few dollars they save in each wreck, it adds up to millions of dollars. Below are four of the tactics insurance carriers use to try and get people to settle their claims early and for less than they deserve.
They then use these millions of dollars to hire lawyers for sometimes less than $100 per hour to fight claims and drag out the litigation process to make it take years and make cases not go to trial all in an effort to save a few more thousand dollars per wreck. Add it up and it is why you see so many State Farm, Allstate & GEICO commercials. It is HUGE business. Then they lobby and make the word "tort reform" a household word despite few understanding it. Everyone is against lawsuits until serious injury happens to them or a loved one. And then, people can find themselves repeatedly victimized- victimized by the at fault person or company, then victimized by the insurance company, then victimized by the insurance company's lawyers, and maybe victimized by your own lawyer who overcharges fees and offers little.
Here is the market share an number of policies written in Texas alone- http://www.tdi.texas.gov/company/top40.html
1. The Fast Settlement - You've been in some sort of event- auto accident, fall, have taken a recalled prescription drug, or have otherwise been injured. You may not know the results yet. It may go away or it may get worse over time. The quicker you settle, the better it is for the insurance companies. Some injury victims get offered fast settlements because companies know they can make even greater profits by not paying what’s rightfully due to an injured victim such as paying for permanent impairment of a body part, permanent disability, or paying for future medical expenses or loss of future income as a result of an accident. They get you to sign a release as soon as possible to lock you into a settlement before you even see a lawyer or a doctor. I have heard of this done even days after a wreck when the adjuster comes to look at your property damage. It is just as bad as the "ambulance chasers." Before you settle your case, you want to make sure you know the full extent and future effects of your injury. Give it a few weeks to let the swelling and symptoms show.
2. Fear Factor - Some insurance representatives talk injured victims into taking a quick settlement, because the insurance adjuster convinces them that sprain and strain symptoms are not recoverable or that what you have is "probably temporary," that it would be too expensive to hire a lawyer, that you'd get less if you hire a lawyer because they take a fee, that you may wind up owing money if you do not take the settlement, or otherwise intimidate or use their years of experience to convince you that you need to resolve it now. The fact is a good lawyer can help you get the medical attention you need and document your claim to make sure you are getting fair compensation for your injury. Also, a good lawyer can negotiate reduction on medical treatment and save you money on some of your bills.
Even simple whiplash can result in permanent injury as the soft tissues of the body can be stretched or torn, leaving scar tissue when they heal. It will reduce range of motion and sometimes cause permanent pain and other issues as your body adjusts to the new alignment. Let's let the doctors decide what is wrong- not an insurance adjuster.
3. Sign Your Life Away - Accident victims can get so confused about what they’re signing, such that the injured victim signs away his/her rights to a fair settlement. That’s why you must read the “fine" print. You should consult with an attorney before you sign anything. There are occasions when even a "policy limits" settlement is not all that one can get and an attorney should evaluate it and make sure. An attorney should also be fair to you and not take a fee on what was previously offered without his/her help.
4. Lie: Your insurance premium will go up or be canceled - It's a common threat and absolutely FALSE. If you were not substantially at fault, premiums should not be increased and policies should be renewed. See Florida Statute 626.9541. An insurance company's violation of this statute may subject it to a civil lawsuit and government fines for engaging in an unfair and deceptive act. Further consumer protection is afforded by Florida Statute 626.9702, which provides: (1) No insurer shall impose or request an additional premium for automobile insurance, or refuse to renew a policy, solely because the insured or applicant was convicted of one or more traffic violations which do not involve an accident or do not cause revocation or suspension of the driving privileges of the insured, without adequate proof of a direct, demonstrable, objective relationship between the violation for which the surcharge was imposed and the increased risk of highway accidents. (2) No insurer shall cancel or otherwise terminate any automobile insurance contract with an insured after the insured has paid the premiums on such policy for 5 years or more solely because the insured is involved in a single traffic accident. Call us immediately if an insurer says your insurance will go up or may be canceled because you need to make a PIP or Bodily Injury claim.
Be smart if you are in a collision and/or harmed by the negligence, ignorance, and/or omissions of others. Don't think some insurance adjuster for the at fault party is going to believe you or is doing you a favor or is giving you good advice. They don't care. It’s business.
Law Office of John M. Phillips
Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about personal injury law.