Mistakes Auto Insurance Companies Want Victims To Make
The more mistakes a victim makes with their PI case, the less the accident claim is worth. At the scene:
Initially Insurance companies do not want the victim to hire an attorney. They try to convince the injured party they can handle the claim themselves. Without an attorney the victim is not aware of how important it is to be organized and gather information. They do not like it when the victim takes out their cell phone and takes picture of the cars, witnesses, parties and their injuries and then takes a video of the driver admitting liability and speeding. However if there is no police report the insurance company can later deny liability.
The insurance company’s does not want the police not make a report and hopes the injured party will not take an ambulance to the hospital. Delay in treatment allows the carrier to argue if there was an injury there would have been immediate treatment. Many lawyers reject soft tissue accident cases if there is no ambulance or hospital right after the accident.
Picking an Attorney: A victim without the name of an attorney BEFORE an accident is often too stressed and disorganized and cannot think straight. They hire a TV advertising “mill” attorney or worse yet they use their biz or estate planning attorney who knows nothing about this area of the law. The less competent the attorney the less the value of the case. The insurance company would also like the victim to hire an attorney from out of the area. They do not know the local court personnel and because they have their practice in LA or San Diego they are less likely to make court appearances. Sometimes the relationship an attorney develops with the defense attorney at these proceedings enables the two to later settle the case. Finding a lawyer who was also in an accident will yield a lawyer who truly understands the pain you are going through and the change to your quality of life.
Body Shop: Going to the insurance company body shop or using a friend who has body shop and will do the work for less is a bad idea and plays into the hands of the insurance company. One of the criteria for deciding the value of a case is the amount of the property damage. Lower property damage is counterproductive. The property damage adjuster assigned initially is often a nice sweet adjuster who will be replaced in a month or so. This nice adjuster may try to trick the victim by asking them to get into the pix of the damage to the car and pointing to the damage. Right before they click they say smile. Now they have a picture of the victim bending and smiling when they told the doctor they cannot do this.
Choosing a Doctor: The insurance company would like all victims to delay treatment and then treat with their family doctor who may be competent to treat you but may not be trained in preparing a medical legal report. For years I would annually lecture to the International College of Surgeons on How to Write a Medical Legal Report. In addition when you treat with your own doctor your existing records can have damaging information such as prior injuries, drug use, alcohol problems and mental issues. Notations about a sexually transmitted disease and an abortion can likewise prejudice a jury against the victim. It is imperative that you get in to see the doctor RIGHT AWAY and not be given an appointment two weeks later. When that happens the adjuster can argue how do we know the injuries he is complaining of now were from the accident and not a slip and fall in the shower or around the pool and if he was really hurt he would have treated right away.
Social Media: The new tool used by insurance companies is checking out the victims Facebook posts and that is why I tell my clients to take down their social media until the case is over. The insurance company can see information about the victim playing tennis or golf or going on a trip and lifting luggage. They can also get the names of friends of the victim and contact them to try to dig up dirt. All this can reduce the value of the case and plays into the hands of the carrier.