We would like to believe that those whose negligence causes pain and suffering to others would step right up to make their victim whole again. That, unfortunately, would be a misguided notion. The world where we live is full of folks with good intentions. It also has more than a few folks whose job it is to save negligent people from the consequences of their careless behavior.
Within days following an accident, you may be contacted or visited by an insurance adjuster who hopes to settle your claim quickly and for the least amount possible. They are nearly always pleasant and seem to be concerned about saving you time and trouble after your accident. Understand, though, that these people are all about the business of saving their company as much money as they can. They go to astonishing lengths to do this.
Often, insurance adjusters will approach injured victims while they are still in the hospital or rehabilitation facility. If they are unable to entice you to settle right away by playing the part of kind, helpful insurance adjuster, they switch gears. At this point, they will do everything within their power to minimize your injuries in your own mind. They will try to make you feel as if you are being over-treated, or even engaged in trying to de-fraud the insurance company. They may suggest that the accident was your fault and that you should be overjoyed that their company is willing to help in spite of your being at fault.
The Sad Standard of Insurance Companies When Dealing with Injuries
Underhanded treatment of the innocent injured victims in negligence claims is not unusual. It’s actually the standard operating procedure for some insurance companies. The more devastating your injury, the more pressure is brought to bear. Insurance companies want to avoid the courtroom and the jury who probably won’t fall for their deceptions. They hit you hard with the most persuasive or coercive plan of attack they can hatch, sometimes even taking advantage of you while you’re still too foggy to think clearly.
An Injury Accident Bad Insurance Company Response Example
It is final exam week for the fall semester and you’re pulling an all-nighter. You’ve been staring at your chemistry text for long enough that your eyes are blurred. You decide to go for a run to clear your mind. Even though it’s nearly two-thirty in the morning, you put on your running shoes and your reflective arm bands and set out on your usual running route.
That two-mile route takes you along the perimeter of your school’s campus, the full length of a mall parking lot, across an intersection that’s very busy when it isn’t in the middle of the night, and finally back to your dorm via a residential street.
When you arrive at the intersection you stop to look left and right. You cannot actually listen for traffic since Jay-Z is belting out Run This Town in your ear-buds but you see that you have the “Walk” light. You fail to hear or see the bread delivery truck entering the intersection to your right – the driver has just made an incomplete stop at the adjacent corner and is turning directly toward you at about 30 MPH. The driver doesn’t expect to see a runner at this time of night and isn’t watching as you start your dash to the other side of the street. In a sickening instant, you see each-other but there is no way to stop the collision. He hits you on your right flank, knocking you to the ground.
You don’t lose consciousness, but you are stunned by the impact. The truck driver calls 911 and squats by your side as you wait for the first responders. He’s babbling about how he didn’t see you and the fact that nobody should be running at this time of night. You vomit on his shoes.
At the hospital the doctors determine that you’re lucky not to have any broken bones, however they are fairly certain that you’re suffering from internal injuries that will require surgery. Your side and abdomen are very painful and are swelling at an alarming rate. After further tests including blood tests and an ultrasound reveal that your liver has been injured, you’re immediately prepped for surgery.
One section of your liver must be removed because it is so badly damaged, crushed by the impact. Fortunately, the liver does regenerate and you may recover fully in time.
On the second day of your hospital stay, you’re told that the insurance adjuster for the bread company has come to talk with you. He seems to be terribly concerned about your health and is very attentive as you explain what happened. When he leaves your hospital bedside, he assures you that he feels confident that in spite of your carelessness in running out in front of his insured’s truck, he may be able to get your medical costs covered. (You are supposed to feel grateful, but you don’t.)
Interesting Fact: Insurance Adjusters Like Quick Signatures
On his next visit, the adjuster brings documents he wants you to sign. The documents offer to pay your medical bills. Upon signing, it says that you agree not to take any further action against the company or their driver. He points out again that you were probably at fault for running out in front of his insured’s truck and that the driver, quite naturally, could not be expected to be watching for a runner at 2:45 a.m. If running in the middle of the night isn’t a crime, it should be he tells you gravely.
You tell the adjuster you’re not well enough to agree to anything at this time. You wisely ask your nurses to keep this man out of your room if he returns. You’re simply not ready to deal with such an important matter in your condition. (Good thinking!)
Your parents are summoned and, when you are finally discharged from the hospital after ten days, you go home with them – a long and painful 150-mile drive. There is nobody to help you at the dorm and, since your recovery may take some time, you are forced to drop out of school for the balance of the term.
Your parents have already called the office supply store where you work part-time, but now you must let them know that you won’t be back until maybe next fall – you tell them you hope they will re-hire you when you return but know that your job will be snapped up by some other student whose entire college career depends upon earning a part-time income.
Your entire life has been side-tracked for the foreseeable future. Your family is unable to pay your mounting medical bills and neither can you. You wonder if you just should have signed the document the adjuster offered. Ultimately, your family encourages you to hire a lawyer to sue the truck driver and the company that employed him.
Fortunately for you, livers don’t just crush themselves. Your medical records will probably do the trick to prove that the impact of being hit by a large moving vehicle did the damage to your liver. It is critically important that you attend every single doctor’s appointment and make yourself available for every test your doctor thinks you need. Follow up care is just as important to your case as that trip to the emergency room – if you don’t follow up, the insurance company may try to say that your injury isn’t as bad as you say it is.
The Details Matter in Injury Cases
What won’t be so easy to prove is precisely how the accident happened.
You were the only one who could see the “Walk” light. You have no witnesses to the accident except the driver of the truck. However, since you were actually at the mall’s street entrance, it’s likely that the mall’s security or surveillance videos may prove that you did have the right of way and actually caught the accident on video. There is also the outside chance that there was a signal light camera on the red flashing light the delivery driver did not completely stop for.
When you’ve been involved in an accident it’s important that you understand that the insurance company begins instantly to anticipate how a lawsuit might play out. Insurance companies keep lawyers on retainer whose only job is to dig up evidence that will somehow damage your case. They go to work immediately to gather anything that can be used to minimize their company’s ultimate payment to you. They will be checking your medical records for previous injuries that might have left you with a weakness that they can exploit.
The sooner after the accident you can hire a qualified personal injury the better. Because the lawyers for the defendants are already preparing for court, you will fall behind every day you’re not represented by an attorney whose only goal is looking after your interests.
If there are eye-witnesses to your accident, your attorney needs to interview them quickly. Get their names if you’re able. Their memories will be fresher and clearer as will yours. If your injuries are such that you or somebody with you can take pictures or gather names and numbers of potential witnesses following the accident, do so. Make sure to write everything down in your own words as soon as possible and get the names of first responders for your own statement.
Obtaining security video will probably require a lawyer or a court order but make note of where the cameras are if you see them. The more information you can give your lawyer early in the process, the more likely you’ll be to be able to counter the insurance company’s allegations.
What would be a fair settlement of my case and how is it determined?
Many things will determine the value of your settlement. Among the most important are the injury itself and the amount of suffering it caused at the time of the accident and afterward. Will your injury heal and you are able to enjoy life fully as you did before? Does your injury keep you from working? Will your lifestyle be interrupted? How much money will you have to pay out to regain your health? The actual costs can be staggering but the emotional trauma that comes with an accident like our example also has value.
The lifestyle of our young student will be completely changed. His graduation from college and the commencement of his life as an engineer will be put off for at least a year. It will be some time before he is able to run for enjoyment or to compete as he did before the accident. He will also have to face the stress of not being able to pay his medical bills and the feelings of frustration and helplessness that entails.
All of these factors will be of value in the determination of your final settlement whether it is arrived at before or after your court date. When you have a qualified, experienced personal injury lawyer at your side, you are more likely to be made “whole” again.
At The Millar Law Firm we pride ourselves in the way we cover all the bases. We work hard to determine what impacts your accident has upon you and the people closest to you. Some lawyers don’t take the time to appreciate the small but weighty details that matter in cases like this and fail to include them in settlement discussions. While we cannot erase the accident from your life, we hope to return your life to you as completely as possible. If things will be forever altered, our goal is to deliver compensation for the losses you’ve experienced.
We also offer a free case evaluation for each case that comes our way. This helps our clients understand what may be coming their way from the other side. It is here that we begin the work of disproving the arguments the defendants may fabricate to belittle your case. Legal battles can be complicated and overwhelming – get help you can depend upon.
If you’ve been the victim of somebody’s negligence, call the personal injury experts at The Millar Law Firm. Let us help you find justice.