New Video Game: Handling Your Own Injury Claim
Handling an injury claim successfully is not a game to start yourself to see how it goes. Mistakes, usually made early, can set your injury claim profile into inescapable low-ball territory. The traps are set by a friendly, yet villainous, adjuster who is out to defeat you, not max your score.
Starting the Game Yourself Only Locks Your Injury Claim into a Low-Ball Profile to AvoidAt a social gathering, I am sometimes asked by someone whether they should handle their own personal injury claim. If I know they like to play video games, I sometimes reply: "Not if you expect to get a high score." Thus, for the limited purpose of this article only, I am going to equate the handling of your own personal injury claim to playing a video game. Obviously, an injury claim is not a game at all. Even if you have the time to deal with adjusters calling all the time, doing-it-yourself turns your injury claim into a hobby or a game for which you likely do not know all the rules.
When you play a new video game, do you expect to make a high score on your first try? On your second try? Moreover, when you try a video game for the first time, you are not expecting to gamble the value of an entire injury claim either. Sure, you might play the "minor, fender-bender game," as long as you have the time and you are sure you will not have any long-term effects from what may initially seem like only muscle soreness. However, we know that, more times than not, the other driver's negligence has caused an interruption of your entire life, along with the lives of your family members. When your injury claim reaches the point of affecting your enjoyment of life, your ability to do your job, and/or your ability to spend time with or provide for your family, that is all the more reason to hit the pause button and call us for a free consultation. One thing is for sure -- when the stakes are very high because you are badly injured, medical bills are accumulating, all while you are likely missing work at the same time -- do not play, do not gamble. Call us immediately for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Of course, you could start the game and see how it goes, but what if you do not discover certain pitfalls until it is too late?
Mistake Example 1: Giving a Recorded Statement is a TrapHow did you handle your recorded statement? You may feel confident that you gave an accurate description of the accident. That is great, but would you be surprised if the game is over at that point? More times than not, you should never give a statement to an adjuster!
When it is clear that liability falls on the other driver, such as when you are rear-ended in a car accident, there is absolutely no reason to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. As a matter of fact, the only reason the adjuster wants your recorded statement is to get you to make some statement against your interest that now diminishes what may have been a valid, valuable injury claim. The adjuster will likely twist what you say into an argument that you somehow caused or contributed to a rear-end accident because you:
1. Made an abrupt stop,
2. Had recently entered the lane in front of the other driver, or
3. Did not hit your brakes soon enough to trigger your brake lights and
warn the driver behind you.
Also, you may have told the adjuster that you are fine or just a little sore. That is likely the case only hours after the accident, when the adjuster usually calls you and while your adrenaline is still pumping. However, we know and understand from experience that the real pain and extent of your injuries likely will not manifest until much later that day or the day after your accident when you find that you cannot get comfortable enough to sleep, cannot get out of bed the next morning, or cannot go to work. Again, giving a recorded statement, especially so soon after the accident, is just one of many unknown insurance traps you can fall into.
In reality, most clients call us after having already given a recorded statement the day of or the day after the accident. That is because insurance companies will call as soon as the accident is reported to fish for any information they can get to use against you. While we can still handle your personal injury claim, we also know that giving that recorded statement was likely the first of many unavoidable mistakes that a non-attorney will make in trying to handle their own personal injury claim. Under the rare circumstances that we ever advise a client to give a statement, we will always prepare you beforehand for how to give a statement and be on the telephone line with you during the statement.
Mistake Example 2: Insurance Adjusters are Trained VillainsDid you tell the adjuster anything about prior accidents or pre-existing injuries? You can bet that the adjuster would like to use these against you to deny your claim, arguing that you must have been hurt in some other accident and not the one their driver caused. However, our Firm knows how to make it clear that any pre-existing injury was independent of the current injury or, at a minimum, we know how to properly argue that the recent accident at least exacerbated your condition.
As an experienced personal injury attorney, we already know how the game is played. We are painfully aware of the misleading tactics used by insurance adjusters to try to either deny your claim altogether or at least deny a large portion of your claim. This could mean game over or at least a very low score for those who fall under the spell of the evil adjuster. Insurance adjusters are villains who are highly trained to pay the least amount possible for injury claims. After all, their salary and bonuses depend on it. While you may think that you are "in good hands with Allstate" or you may think that "State Farm is treating you like a good neighbor," that is a trap for the unwary in the game of personal injury. We do not want you to be outplayed or conquered altogether.
Mistake Example 3: Object of the Adjuster is to Defeat You, Not Max Your ScoreDo you really believe an adjuster is going to advise you about other types of damages and claims you could and should make? Think about it. You should not expect the insurance adjuster to explain the rules of the game. The object of the game for an adjuster is to defeat you, not tell you how you can get extra bullets or additional lives.
Simply put, you are not going to play the video game as well as the designer of the game, the one who has played it and tested it thousands of times. Now add the force field advantage you get when you have an attorney. Insurance adjusters never feel the threat of a lawsuit when you do not have an attorney. When you have an attorney, an insurance adjuster must seriously take into account the possibility of a lawsuit, so they know they must offer a fair amount to settle "all" of the damages claims you have a right to make and for which you deserve fair compensation. As a bonus, we are very good at the game and know how to effectively negotiate with an adjuster to maximize your score.
Most importantly, we want to help you put more dollars in your pocket instead of the big insurance company's pocket. Since there is no re-set button for handling your own injury claim, it only make sense to at least be armed with knowledge about all the types of damages to which you are entitled before hitting the start button. If, after a free consultation, we do not believe that we can get you more money than you can get on your own, even after paying a percentage of your eventual settlement to our Firm, then we will respectfully decline the representation and give you some pointers for how to continue the game yourself and maximize your score.