In general, insurance companies spend money, usually on lawyers and investigators, to lower accident settlements. These companies have plenty of money. This industry earns over $1 trillion a year. A few specific techniques insurance companies use are outlined below.
Even the largest private law firm in the country cannot possibly match these financial resources. But Goliath was a lot bigger than David, and David took him out. In the same way, personal injury attorneys have right on their side. That makes a big difference.
1. Quick, Low-Ball Settlement Offers
Frequently, insurance adjusters show up in hospital rooms with settlement forms, even if the victims are barely conscious enough to sign their names. Adjusters know what to say in these situations as well. They act compassionately, even though they probably didn’t know the victim’s name a half hour previously.
People who are lying in hospital beds just want it to end. Adjusters cash in on this attitude, quite literally. Victims may think they’re putting the accident behind them, but in reality, the quick, low-ball offer just makes them financially responsible for bills they probably cannot possibly pay.
2. Contest Key Accident Issues
Liability, or legal responsibility for the injury, and damages, or the amount of compensation the victim should receive, are the two biggest issues in most injury cases.
Only a plumber should fix your sink and only a mechanic should fix your car. Likewise, only a lawyer should determine liability in an injury case. Never take an insurance adjuster’s word for it.
Prior medical bills and other economic losses, such as lost wages, are relatively easy to determine. Almost everyone can use a calculator. Future economic losses are much different. It’s difficult to determine how much more work the victim will miss and what future medical procedures will be necessary, if any. Insurance adjusters and lawyers only use the lowest possible figure. Anyone who has ever filed an insurance claim knows how that goes.
3. Comparative Fault
This legal doctrine, which is also called contributory negligence, may be the most common insurance company defense in personal injury matters. Essentially, an insurance company lawyer tried to shift blame for an accident from the tortfeasor (negligent actor) to the victim. Car crash victims drove recklessly, fall victims didn’t watch where they were going, and so on.
This defense is common because it’s usually effective. A tragedy like a dog bite or swimming pool drowning usually has multiple causes.
Contributory negligence laws vary in different states. Most jurisdictions are modified comparative fault states. If tortfeasors were at least 50 or 51 percent responsible for the injury, victims are entitled to a proportionate share of damages.
4. Sudden Emergency
These last two headings will be brief. These legal doctrines don’t come up very much. A sudden emergency is a completely unexpected situation, like a tire blow-out or hood fly-up, that makes a car crash or other injury unavoidable. This doctrine doesn’t apply to everyday hazards, like stalled cars or jaywalking pedestrians.
5. Last Clear Chance
Wrong-way wrecks often involve the last clear chance doctrine. All drivers have a duty of care at all times. If Fred has a chance to avoid a head-on crash with Barney, Fred could be liable for the wreck, even though he did nothing wrong and Barney was driving on the wrong side of the road.
If you need help with your car accident, it’s best to work with the best lawyer near you. Book a free accident lawyer consultation with AskLegally. Or try our accident settlement calculator to see what your case could be worth.