As an auto accident attorney I have noticed that with the New Year, several auto insurance companies began recycling a tactic to deprive accident victims of the fair compensation to which they are entitled. This has been used many times over the years.
First, the insurance claims adjuster for the driver-at-fault quickly makes contact with the accident victim – sometimes the day of the accident – to make the victim think the company cares and everything will be handled properly and fairly, and to even assure the victim there’s no need to contact an attorney.
Second, the claims adjuster offers to pay the victim a small sum, such as $250.00 or $500.00, for the victim’s “trouble,” and to pay for all accident-caused medical bills up to a certain time period or dollar amount.
Third, the adjuster quickly emails and mails a release form to the victim for a quick signature, to lock in the deal and bind the victim, and usually mails the check for the agreed upon amount.
Sounds fair, doesn’t it?
Obviously the claims adjuster’s job is to pay the victim as little as possible, not fair and reasonable compensation. What is wrong is what the claims adjuster doesn’t say:
- The claims adjuster does not tell the victim that the full extent of his or her injuries may be unknown and should be checked out by a qualified health care professional before discussing settlement. Most victims have no idea how injured they are shortly after or the day of the crash.
- The claims adjuster says nothing to the victim about having to reimburse his or her own health insurance company for any accident-caused medical bills paid.
- The claims adjuster does not tell the victim that the driver-at-fault’s auto insurance company may decide on its own those medical bills to pay or “adjust” to an amount the company is willing to pay, even if the hospital or medical provider disagrees, leaving an outstanding balance for the victim to pay.
- The claims adjuster says nothing to the victim about his or her right to compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering. Instead the claims adjuster tells the victim that only payment for the medical bills is appropriate.
Don’t be fooled. Not every auto accident victim needs a accident lawyer, but every auto accident victim does need to know his or her rights. If you have any questions please call me at (480) 833-1113