February 10th, 2020|
After an accident, you will face a tidal wave of stress and anxiety. You must deal with the pain of your injuries, while at the same time navigating the rules of your medical insurers. Or you might be dealing with the tow company threatening to charge you for the tow or storage of your car. You may have issues finding a fair temporary replacement vehicle while your insurer is arguing about whether they will fix or total your car. In addition, you may have never faced anything like this before. Hopefully you never will again!
Through the confusion, you struggle to handle all of these important decisions correctly. Lots of concerns enter your mind. You want to ensure fairness to the other driver, and not take advantage of the situation. So, you can reach out to a friend, or a relative, and they will reinforce your overwhelming desire to be reasonable to the insurance company. “After all,” you will reassure yourself, “I’m not the type of person to sue someone.”
With your convictions in place, and the overwhelming stress of your injury, this is the perfect time for the other driver’s insurer to call and steal your claim! That’s right. And it is no exaggeration. The primary goal when that claims adjuster calls is to give you peace, give you clarity, gain your trust, ease your fears, play into your sense of fairness, and steal your claim for pennies on the dollar.
Our Fox Cities car accident lawyers frequently receive calls from people who have fallen victim to this tactic. Some escape successfully, but others are not as lucky. The approach is generally soft. The adjuster will be very friendly, usually showing an overabundance of compassion for your claim. In some cases, they may tell you that your injury could be worse than even you think. “It is certainly best to get everything checked out!” they will encourage you. With this much concern, how could they possibly be out to con you?
Well, they are, because what comes next is about all that is left to destroy your claim. The adjuster will tell you it is best to get your injury looked at. They’ll say there is no need for your health insurance to pay for it, as “after all, you didn’t cause the accident!” They will suggest they cover all of your past medical bills, and give you something to help you through your troubles and inconveniences. “$500 should do the trick for the week of problems you’ve had.”
You may hesitate, so they will increase it to $800. “After all, if money comes out this easily, this adjuster will certainly be generous when it comes time to settle.” And just to be especially nice, they will offer to pay for all of your future medical care. We’ll send you a check and some paperwork and we can get that all to you immediately.
Here’s the problem; they are responsible for paying all of your past medical bills anyway, so they are really not doing you any favors. And $800 for “the problems you’ve had to deal with” is peanuts compared to what your claim is probably worth. Their promise to pay future medical bills is a real promise, except that buried in their “paperwork” is a definition that “future medical bills” means anything incurred in the next three weeks. And when you cash the check, even if you don’t sign their form, you’ve settled your entire claim. Gone!
Courts have repeatedly ruled that these shady settlements are legal and binding. Why? Because courts believe the reasonable person should bring this paperwork to an attorney. But the judge never heard what the adjuster said on the phone, how supportive they were, and how concerned they were. It makes no difference. A contract is a contract and your claim is done. Never sign anything you receive from an insurance company unless your lawyer tells you to. Never cash a check from an insurance company unless your lawyer tells you to. Even if an adjuster tells you it doesn’t say what you think it says, just don’t do it!
We recently saw a woman who “settled” her entire claim for $800 one week after her accident. Within a month, her doctor recommended she have neck surgery. She was saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills, and received zero compensation for her pain and suffering. Another gentleman merely cashed the check he viewed as the insurer just being “helpful.” That released his entire claim for a tiny payment.
What do you do if you have been a victim of this sham? Your claim may have been released, but it is always best to speak to our office. We can review the documents and all communication in order to identify any flaw that might invalidate the deal. The insurance company may have attempted to con you out of your claim. But if they missed anything, there might still be hope.
The best option, however, is to never, never, never, EVER talk to an insurance company after an accident. At Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers, we will handle your claim from the day of the accident. We’ll manage your case through your care all the way to completion. We will ensure you get every penny you deserve. Our Green Bay auto accident attorneys will protect you from the insurance company. You can focus on your health. Do not face these tactics alone. We can help.