It is the job of insurance adjusters to make claims disappear for as little money as possible. Insurance professionals are highly trained and experienced at doing this, and they have a tremendous advantage over victims who try to negotiate the complex world of insurance claims on their own. There is no question that getting a lawyer involved as soon as possible will significantly increase the value of your case.
Even after an attorney is involved, however, insurance carriers continue to employ certain tactics to try to diminish the value of your case. One such tactic is to judge the severity of the victim’s injury by the visible damage to the vehicles involved. We recently received a letter from an insurance adjuster in a case involving a collision and injuries to our client. In response to our settlement demand, the adjuster responded:
Please note that your client sustained slight damage to their vehicle and it is our position that a significant injury is less likely to be caused by a low speed collision. As such we will question any treatment beyond the initial consultation to get “checked out.”
Notice the language used—“their”—not “Mr. Smith,” “he” or “she”. This is a canned response they have on their computer that they can instantly insert into a letter and send without doing any real evaluation of the case, the medical records, or the victim’s injuries. For many lawyers, this is where they give up on a case. They look at the photographs of the vehicles, fall for the trick, and accept a low settlement.
This is a huge mistake. Basing a person’s injuries solely on the visible damage to an automobile blindly ignores a wealth of critical factors that are unique to each individual’s physical and mental situation. Furthermore, we see examples every single day that disprove the theory that significant injuries can only be suffered through some dramatic event. A NASCAR driver can hit a wall at over 200 miles per hour, flip ten times through the air, and emerge with virtually no injuries. By contrast, a person can suffer a broken ankle by simply stepping off a curb.
If the case is properly prepared and presented, the jury will understand this as well. At trial the victim can prove his or her injury and the impact on daily life through testimony from the victim and his or her family members, medical records and testimony, and other evidence. Just because the vehicles were not destroyed during a collision does not mean no one was hurt. Juries understand that, and they are not afraid to fairly compensate victims accordingly.
The foregoing answer is not legal advice and is merely a general overview. You are advised to consult a lawyer to address your specific situation. Feel free to send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org of Apolinsky & Associates, LLC. Image Credit.