Take it Or Leave It: Insurance Companies To Auto Accident Victims
Insurance companies have a huge incentive — profits — to hardball auto accident victims.
Their television commercials are designed to make you believe the auto insurance companies are on your side. You’ve seen their slick and entertaining ads, often featuring A-list entertainers, sports stars or talking reptiles. The premise is to make you laugh and leave you with the impression that if you’re involved in a car wreck, the insurance company’s main goal is to get your claim handled quickly and get a check in your hand so you can be back on the road and back to your life without any hassle.
The reality is very different, as many of our clients who have been injured in car wrecks can attest.
Despite ads that cast them in the role of helpers and heroes, auto insurance carriers are paying less and less on legitimate injury claims while continuing to raise premiums for the sake of their profits. Rather than offering accident victims fair settlements for their injuries, medical expenses and property damage, the insurance companies have a decades-long pattern of lowballing people.
The insurance company’s message is clear: “This is our offer. Take it or leave it.”
This is especially true in low-impact accidents – so-called fender benders – which can cause serious and painful soft-tissue injuries that can be debilitating and require substantial treatment.
Accident victims who don’t take the insurance company’s low-ball offer to settle their cases are forced into litigation, which can be expensive and is very risky. The carriers are banking that most people will take the low offer rather than go to trial. That’s because the insurance companies know they can more easily afford to go to trial than you can.
These insurance carriers continue to make huge profits by denying claims and low-balling offers, but do those profits result in lower premiums to you?
Hardly. Allstate has done just the opposite by raising rates.
Do those soaring profits keep Allstate and others from continuing to stereotype accident victims who assert their rights in the courtroom as greedy or looking for a lottery-sized payout?
No. The insurance industry, as a whole, tries to portray you, the person who wasn’t at fault, as the bad guy.
The insurance companies continue to inundate the media with advertising designed to make you think they’re on your side and acting in your best interest. The result is this: more and more jurors are coming to jury duty with the preconceived notion that auto accident plaintiffs must be greedy, committing fraud, or looking for a big payday.
Not one of our clients has ever said they were happy the wreck happened because they were going to receive a settlement. In fact all of our clients wished the wreck never happened at all.
But the insurance industry perpetuates the myth that people who aren’t hurt are getting massive payouts in so-called “frivolous” lawsuits. That’s just not true, but it makes for great headlines that get the public outraged.
Always remember that the insurance carriers are working in their own best interests, not yours.
That’s why you need an experienced attorney on your side.
A CNN investigation, which remains just as relevant and accurate today as when it was first reported, came to the conclusion that “if you challenge the offer by some insurance companies you will be left with no option but to go to court, where you will be dragged through the wringer.” Their strategy is to make it look like victims are trying to defraud the insurers.
The CNN article even quotes a former juror who said she assumed that the plaintiff had already received payment for injuries and other damages from the insurance company and that she brought the lawsuit out of greed. In reality, the accident victim’s insurance claim was never paid, and she lost in court.
The revelations in this article won’t surprise attorneys who represent injured people. Large auto insurance carriers have been using these hardball tactics for decades when addressing claims. And the practice has gotten worse and more brazen in the last decade.
When an auto accident case goes to trial, the other driver is listed as the defendant, but the lawsuit is really against their insurance company. The defendant is represented by an insurance company attorney. If the plaintiff wins, the insurance company will pay any damages, not the other driver.
But jurors don’t know that because the law does not allow your attorney to mention the insurance company during court. We can’t present evidence that your claim hasn’t yet been paid by insurance. The law also does not allow your attorney to mention that the insurer’s settlement offer wasn’t sufficient to cover your medical bills.
Because of these rules of evidence, jurors often draw the wrong conclusion that the plaintiff must have already been paid by the driver’s auto insurance carrier and is just seeking more money by suing the driver personally. This is not true.
In court, the insurance company’s attorneys also will try to discredit plaintiffs by questioning the nature and severity of their injuries. The most common injuries in minor impact cases are soft tissue, muscular type injuries – things you can’t see. But that doesn’t mean you’re not hurt or that you don’t need medical treatment for those injuries, just as you would if you suffered a broken bone or head trauma.
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, consult our helpful guide outlining what you should and shouldn’t do when dealing with the insurance company. Before talking with an adjuster or signing anything, it may be helpful to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected.