By J. Scott Robertson, Esq., Auto Accident Attorney
Free Initial Consultation: 410-749-9111
I frequently have new clients who come to see me for the first time many months after a car or truck accident and report that the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company made an outrageously low and unfair settlement offer for their injury claim, medical bills and lost wages. These new clients often express surprise that the adjuster took such an unreasonable position. They assumed they would be treated fairly, and are often angry and insulted that they were not.
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As a former insurance company attorney who has focused my practice on auto accident insurance claims since 1993, these reports from new clients almost never come as a surprise. Insurance claims adjusters are trained to pay out as little as possible. Making low offers to unrepresented individuals is part of the insurance companies’ strategy. Getting an auto insurance adjuster to increase a low offer to a fair settlement amount is often extraordinarily difficult.
If you were injured in a car or truck accident, I recommend taking 15 minutes to watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s investigative report on the way car insurance carriers handle personal injury claims, linked below. You will be shocked by what was uncovered by CNN.
I previously represented both insurance companies mentioned in the news report, and I know how to deal with them and other auto insurance companies to obtain a fair settlement or recovery.
Please take the time to watch these news reports, review the rest of this page, and call us for a free initial consultation at 410-749-9111:
Anderson Cooper touched on some unfair issues and tactics used by insurance carriers in auto accident cases and insurance claims, but there are many more. We know how to address each of these insurance company tactics for our clients in order to obtain a fair settlement. Having focused my law practice on car and truck accident cases since 1993, I can tell you some realities about insurance adjusters and the way they evaluate injury claims:
1. Most liability insurance adjusters feel as though they do not owe you any legal obligation. How can they possibly feel that way? Keep in mind that insurance company for the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not your insurance company. The at-fault driver purchased that policy to protect him or her. The at-fault driver’s insurance company has two basic legal obligations: (a) to indemnify the at-fault driver (pay the judgment amount) if you are successful in suing him or her; and (b) to provide a legal defense for any such lawsuit. A settlement is simply an agreement between both sides to agree to a payment to avoid a lawsuit. Technically speaking, the other person’s insurance company is not legally obligated to offer you any settlement at all, let alone a fair settlement.
Unfortunately, the fact that these adjusters should feel an ethical obligation to treat the people injured by their policyholder does not usually enter their mind.
We are able to obtain a fair and equitable settlement without a lawsuit for the vast majority of our clients. How? By preparing and presenting the claim to the insurance company with the same organization and attention to detail that we undertake when we are going to file a lawsuit. Quite frankly, that is how we handle every case. Our “demand package” is detailed, well organized and presented in a way that the adjuster will understand all the strengths and subtleties of the claim. We know how to maximize the claim so that our clients are treated fairly. We fight against the inclination of the insurance companies to low-ball every claim and case.
2. As the party asserting the claim, the burden is on you to establish every element of your claimed injuries and damages. The insurance companies NEVER NEVER NEVER take your word for it on any issue. We like to get involved in cases early to ensure that our injured clients are doing all the things they need to be doing to recover from their injuries, while at the same time legally and medically documenting every aspect of the case to maximize the likelihood that a fair settlement can be obtained at the appropriate time.
While it is better (and does not cost any more) to get us involved as soon as possible after the accident, we can still make a huge difference in the net recovery for our clients even if we get hired late in the process.
3. In order to get a good result, it is essential to coordinate the multiple insurance coverages involved in an auto accident case. Personal Injury Protection Coverage, Medical Payment Coverage, Health Insurance, Medicare, etc, all need to be utilized if available, while keeping in mind the legal obligation to pay back some (but not all) of those coverages from the settlement we obtain. It is also crucial to minimize the reimbursements to health insurers and the like, as well as any outstanding medical bills.
We know what we are doing when it comes to coordinating insurance coverages to the maximum benefit of our clients, and minimizing the amounts paid out of the settlement for health insurance repayment. Navigating the often complex field of health insurance reimbursements is something we work on every day for the benefit of our clients.
In particular, recent changes in federal law make the handling of a personal injury claim for anyone eligible for Medicare extremely complex. MSPRC and Medicare are very difficult to deal with and very slow to respond. This is a major frustration to anyone involved in insurance claim handling. Because we frequently deal with Medicare on these issues, we know how to handle Medicare liens as efficiently and effectively as possible to minimize the amount that Medicare takes from a settlement.
By federal law, Medicare and its Maryland Intermediary, MSPRC, must reduce its lien (repayment) by the same percentage of attorney’s fees and a pro-rata share of any costs incurred in making the insurance claim (or court case when needed). As such, Medicare shares in the costs when you obtain an attorney. We make sure to maximize the reduction of the Medicare lien to the full extent allowed by law.
Insurance companies use a variety of facts to their advantage, often inconsistently. Did you wait a few weeks to go to the doctor, hoping that you would get better? The insurance company will accuse you of having a “gap in treatment”. But if you go to the doctor and therapy to try to recover, the insurance company will accuse you of over-treating.
The insurance companies will often unfairly use other facts against you, such as:
- The nature and extent of the property damage to the cars involved in the crash;
- Any prior injuries or treatment you have had, even if it has nothing to do with these accident-related injuries;
- The fact that x-rays show Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) or underlying arthritis (this is often used by insurance companies to unfairly blame your injuries on pre-existing conditions);
- The fact that the emergency room report inaccurately fails to mention an injury or reports an injury incorrectly (this happens very frequently);
- The fact that you did not report a significant injury at the scene or go to the hospital in an ambulance. The truth is that the pain from many trauma-related injuries do not arise until a day or two later.
We know how to effectively deal with the insurance companies on the multitude of issues that arise in auto accident claims. Our friendly and helpful attorneys and staff are standing by to help you.
Please feel free to click on The Metropolitan magazine picture above to read the article about our firm or review other pages on our website to discover why our experience, reputation, and commitment to our clients make us uniquely qualified to handle your case. Feel free to call us today at 410-749-9111.