I have been representing people who have been injured due to no fault of their own for more than thirty-eight (38) years. I am often asked what is the biggest mistake I have observed committed by the injured over the years. The biggest mistake I have noted– people who settle their claims directly with the insurance company.
Although I have lived long enough to know that you do not say "never" -- my experience has shown me that injured people who settle their claims directly with the insurance company are never fully and fairly compensated for the value of their injuries. You may ask why this occurs? It occurs because the insurance adjuster knows that you lack the legal skills and experience to competently negotiate your claim. In addition, more than 90 percent of all cases will have to be litigated to force the insurance company to pay the "true value" of your claim.
When you are initially injured in a car crash, slip and fall, or by some other act of negligence, you generally do not know the extent of your injuries. The first objective is "your medical recovery." Then it must be determined if your injuries are permanent. Have you incurred a disability as a result of your injury? Will you need future medical treatment? Only a skilled and experienced attorney who has had years of experience representing the injured can navigate you through this process. The process can be difficult and frustrating, but the final outcome will certainly be greater than anything the liability carrier will offer you without the representation of an experienced attorney. The following are examples of cases in which I have met with injured people who attempted to represent themselves:
A client was injured in a serious car crash. The defendant lied about how the crash occurred stating the crash occurred as a result of my client’s negligence. My client had a video in her car that recorded the entire incident that clearly showed the other driver was at fault. My client sent the video to the defendant’s liability carrier. The adjuster for the defendant looked at the video and noticed the video had recorded a speed of 45 mph for my client’s car. The speed limit where the crash occurred was posted at 35 mph. The liability carrier refused to pay my client anything stating she was guilty of contributory negligence. (In the state of Virginia if the defendant can prove that the plaintiff is one percent negligent, it is a complete bar to recovery.) The problem is these videos installed in cars are not very accurate when it comes to the speed of the vehicle. If the liability carrier cannot prove the accuracy of the video, they cannot introduce the video into evidence to argue the plaintiff was exceeding the speed limit. This is the problem when the plaintiff interacts with the liability carrier directly without first consulting an experienced, personal injury attorney.
The Plaintiff Who Accepts Small Payments from the Liability Carrier
A woman came to my office to consult with me regarding a slip and fall in which she sustained a serious injury. Apparently, she had given "too much information to the liability carrier" and was receiving small payments from the insurance company as a result of her desperation for money. The insurance company had made her an offer that was inadequate in my opinion.
However, she was so desperate for money she did not want to hire an attorney to litigate the matter and obtain a fair settlement for an injury that she had suffered leaving her with a permanent disability. Her case was worth several hundred thousand dollars. She received a final settlement of approximately $25,000.00 and a total pay-out of about $30,000.00.
The Plaintiff That Just Cannot Wait
A potential client came to my office in an effort to rescind a Release he had signed with the liability carrier. The carrier came to the hospital and gave him a check for $10,000.00. The poor man really did not know the extent of his injuries. He accepted the $10,000.00 while in the hospital and signed the Release. His stay in the hospital was extended longer than he initially thought. He had to have surgery. His injury was more serious than he initially thought. Although, there is a time period in which Releases can be rescinded in Virginia, the period is very short and a certain protocol must be followed. Unfortunately, for this poor man, I could not help him. What the liability carrier did to him was "criminal" in my opinion.
Remember this, if nothing else– THE LIABILITY CARRIER AND THE ADJUSTER WHO WORKS FOR THE LIABILITY CARRIER IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. THEY WORK FOR THE INSURANCE COMPANY. THE ADJUSTER’S ONLY PURPOSE IS TO GET YOU TO SETTLE A VALID CLAIM FOR AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. THE ADJUSTER HAS NO DUTY TO THE INJURED OR YOU!
IF YOU ARE INJURED, AND THE LIABILITY CARRIER CALLS
YOU, HANG-UP AND CALL PAGE LAW FIRM, P.C. at 804-353-6166.
WE CAN HELP!
WE WORK FOR YOU!
WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE!