A good friend of mine, who happens to be a paralegal at a personal injury firm in Virginia, was involved in a motor vehicle accident about 6 months ago. I won’t go into details about the firm but they have a decent reputation and certainly would have been willing to take his case from the start. When I asked him about the accident he told me the other driver ran a red light and slammed into the driver’s side of his car. He was injured but nothing too serious (broken bone, whiplash). The police report indicated the other driver admitted to causing the accident so he assumed it was a slam dunk!
With great resistance from his employer, he decided to handle the case on his own. He assumed, as would most people, the other driver’s insurance company would be ready to make a quick offer and settle this claim because their client admitted liability.
He told me when filing the claim he was looking for compensation that covered loss of wages (didn’t make it to work that day along with several follow-up visits at the doctor’s office), medical expenses (hospital, doctor’s, pain medications etc), property damage (what a joke), and money for transportation costs (car rental, cabs etc).
I remind you that this is a very good friend of mine. When he told me what the insurance company offered on the claim, I started cracking up. I couldn’t help to laugh because I’m pretty sure considering his tenure at the firm, they would have taken his case for free.
Let’s fast forward to now. It has been 6 months and he still hasn’t received a nickel from the insurance company. I must admit if there was one person that wasn’t a licensed attorney that had to take my case; it would be him (well maybe not anymore). Well you can imagine he took some heat from his employer and rightfully so. Today, his employer is now his attorney.
The moral of the story is quite simple. Why does it take an Act of Congress for some insurance companies to pay victims like my friend, full compensation on their claims? I know that some attorneys have a bad reputation for being tenacious, but let’s admit it; they need to be when dealing with some insurance companies.
If you were involved in an accident, think twice about handling your own injury claim. Why not at least take the time and talk with an attorney before diving into a situation you are unfamiliar with? While my friend ended up hiring his employer, he at least had some knowledge of what to say and not what to say when speaking with the insurance company. If you are handling your own claim and the insurance company begins asking you questions about the accident, what will you say? Remember everything you say, can be held against you during settlement time.
Getting back to the title of this post. Why do insurance companies make bad offers? I believe insurance companies make bad offers in hopes the victim will take it. If the victim really needs the money, chances are they may jump at the first offer. Insurance companies have a bottom line to protect and the more money they pay out, the less profit they make.