Three Ways an Insurance Company Will Dupe You After a Wreck
Insurance companies are crafty enterprises. That craftiness goes into full effect when resolving personal injury claims. Consider the case of Susan. Susan recently had the misfortune of being badly injured by a reckless driver. While recovering at home following her hospital discharge, Susan received a phone call from the reckless driver’s insurance company. The representative on the phone was very polite; he told Susan that he could send her a check within days covering all of her out-of-pocket medical expenses and slightly more than the full value of her now-demolished vehicle. All Susan needed to do was sign a full release of all claims before cashing the check.
Should Susan take this deal?
Absolutely not. This scenario illuminates three of the primary ways an insurance company can dupe an injured victim after a car wreck:
1. Understate recoverable damages
First, the insurance company’s offer woefully undervalued Susan’s damages claim. Susan is entitled to recover the full cost of her medical care, not just the portion she paid out-of-pocket (although she may have to pay a portion of any settlement back to her health insurer). Moreover, she has a right to recover monetary compensation for her physical and mental pain and suffering, lost wages from missed work, mileage and expenses of going back and forth to doctors and physical therapists, projected future medical care, and other incidental expenses. In short, the insurance company in this example has made an offer that represents only a small fraction of the compensation to which Susan is legally entitled.
2. Fake generosity
Second, the insurance company had one of its seemingly courteous and generous claim representatives call Susan to politely encourage a quick settlement. These claim reps are highly trained and skilled at feigning sympathy and generosity to secure a quick and easy settlement—one that would undercompensate Susan by tens of thousands of dollars. For example, it is not unusual for the insurance company to offer slightly more than a totaled car is worth. By doing so, the insurance company tries to create an impression of fairness and generosity, hoping that the injured victim will now assume that the offer for the personal injury part of the claim is also fair. In reality, the insurance company’s first offer for personal injuries is virtually never close to being fair.
3. Press for a quick settlement
Third, the insurance company has tried to entice Susan to enter into a quick settlement by offering to send her a check promptly. If Susan takes this deal, she will not only take a settlement that does not fairly compensate her, but she will unwittingly give up any claim she has to future medical costs. For example, suppose Susan goes to her doctor for a follow-up visit the next month and learns that she will need expensive back surgery because of the wreck. Unfortunately, if Susan has already signed the insurance company’s release form, she has given up her right to recover any further compensation related to the wreck.
The lesson to be learned here is simple: dealing with an insurance company without legal representation can be risky business. Retain an experience and aggressive attorney to protect your rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Authored by Stacey A. Carroll, Esq.