Sunday, September 27, 2009
Having been in the business for over twenty years, we are sick and tired of insurance companies taking advantage of injured victims before they have a chance to talk to a lawyer. For years, many insurance companies would tell accident victims not to talk to an attorney. In fact, they used fear to dissuade people from getting good advice.
Guess what? You may not need an attorney to represent you in your case. No one, however, should settle a case without understanding the “legal system.” Remember insurance companies are in business to make money for their owners and/or shareholders. They don’t care about you.
That adjuster just wants to close the file and get you to release all claims.
Here are some of the sleazy tactics insurance companies use just to wear you out and get you to go away.
1. Deliberate Delay—They know that often you are in a financial squeeze. Even if you have good health insurance, the fact that you aren’t working may make it difficult to pay co-pays, deductibles, transportation, etc. The insurance company knows you are getting dunned by the doctors, so they take their time with your claim. We have had elderly clients die waiting for their claims to be resolved (don’t think for one moment that some insurance companies don’t actually plan this). In a recent case, we dealt with an insurance company that delayed an delayed until our client died of colon cancer.
2. Requesting Unnecessary Information—Insurance companies will insist that you track down every little piece of information before “We can evaluate the claim.” Even if the information they are now asking for would not add a penny to their offer, they are happy to wait another six weeks for you to track it down. Meanwhile, they are earning interest on the money they are NOT paying you.
3. Disputing Medical Treatment—Even though I’ve never met an adjuster who went to medical school, they seem to know just what treatment is right for you! Usually, they “know” that you were over treated because “our computers say you should have been better by now.” Insurance companies frequently hire the same doctors over and over again to write negative reports about injured clients. Often the conclusions of these doctors are so preposterous, it makes our blood boil.
4. Nickel and Dime the Medical Charges—Think about it. IF they shave just 5% off your claim and can do that to the millions of claims made each year, they get richer.
5. Misrepresenting Insurance Benefits—This is a big one. They tell you there’s only $100,000 coverage. We file suit and “magically” find an umbrella policy! Many times in car accidents, the defendant has a homeowners or umbrella insurance policy that covers above their auto insurance.
6. Acting Like Your Friend and Making False Promises—Many insurance companies are lazy intentionally, and don’t actively seek to resolve claims until their insured is sued or the case is awaiting trial. Watch out for the adjuster who befriends you, shows up at your house and promises to pay your future medical bills. We know of one company that shows how they do this in television ads. This is a tactic to stop you from hiring a lawyer. They won’t come around your house once you have a lawyer. Those future medical bills? Well, they’ll pay them until their computer says “too much, too much, this claim is costing us too much.”
We wrote this report so you can become empowered. Knowledge arms and protects you from predatory insurance companies.
We were also sick and tired of outrageous lawyer advertising where lawyers with a reputation for handling hundreds of cases at a time make promises that can’t be kept or equate your injury to “cash, cash, cash.” Did you ever notice that almost all of the attorney ads in the yellow pages claim personal injury expertise? Many lawyers, who NEVER go to court, settle each case for pennies on the dollar. There are also attorneys who don’t have the knowledge of when to settle a claim and will recklessly take your case to trial. Experienced lawyers know when to settle a claim and when to go to trial. The insurance companies know who they are and so should you.
Finally, we are also tired of lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits because these claims hurt everyone by delaying real claims from getting to court. If you are looking for a lottery win, look elsewhere. If you are looking never to work again because someone tapped you from behind at a red light, look elsewhere. Our firm handles legitimate claims for legitimate claimants. No “quick cash for your pain” here. Sorry.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
When a client comes into our offices we spend a great deal of time at the initial consultation. Why? Of course its important to take down all the details of the accident. Many lawyers just take down a client's name and address and get them to sign some forms. Clearly that is wrong. However I'm talking about something different. In our consultations we take up an inordinate amount of time explaining and evaluating the client's role in our new relationship. This new relationship is no different than any other intimate relationship. It requires ,on behalf of the client, to do the following.
- Always, Always tell the truth. No " I forgot", "I didn't think it was important", "I thought it would hurt the case"will work. Our experience is that clients do not tell us something important(like a prior accident)simply because they believe,incorrectly, that nobody will ever find out. Anybody has the potential to find out about others. Just look through the internet. Simply put if its a prior accident, a criminal conviction, a job with unreported income or anything else that may in any way be relevant tell your lawyer.
- If your lawyer asks you to do something or makes recommendations you should seriously consider following through on these immediately. As an example a client came in 3 months after her accident still in tremendous pain but stopped going to the physical therapist. I told her that as long as she is in pain she must continue with therapy. The insurance carrier would not look at her case the same way if she stopped treating even if she is still in pain. That was my recommendation/instruction based on twenty years of practice. I saw her 6 months later. Guess what? You got it. She never went back to therapy and her case settled for much less than it should have because of a big gap in treatment. Just like a marriage its always important to take into consideration your partners opinion and recommendations.
- When life changes let us know. If you changed your telephone number you would not let your children and good friend know. Why would you not tell your lawyer. I had a client that moved from Long Island to New York City and she just forgot to tell me her new telephone number and her address. Make sense? When I needed her I had to hire a private investigator to find her. A complete waste of time, energy and money. If anything changes like your address, telephone, job, doctors that you are treating with let your lawyer know. It is your obligation.
- If your not happy with your lawyer speak up! There can be numerous problems that may interfere with a good attorney client relationship,such as, failing to return calls, case not moving in a timely fashion, lawyer not explaining your case well enough and host of other possibilities. Don't let it go too far. Get a meeting with your lawyer and ...talk.