Does An Insurance Company Owe You Compensation?
In California, if you are injured by another person’s negligence, you are entitled by law to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and related damages, but that compensation is not automatic. You will need the services and advice of a Pasadena personal injury lawyer.
If you are injured on private property because a property owner was negligent, or if you are injured in a traffic accident because another driver was careless, you may hear from an adjuster for the at-fault party’s insurance company – even before you have time to file a claim.
How Do Insurance Companies Avoid Making Payouts?
An insurance adjuster is not there to help you. The adjuster’s job is to protect the insurance company’s interests and profits. The company may try to pay you nothing for your claim – or as little as possible – even if you have been seriously injured and you can prove it.
Auto and homeowners insurance companies use a variety of tactics and excuses to avoid making payments or to reduce the amounts of those payments. If any of the following tactics are used against you, promptly ask a Pasadena personal injury attorney to take action on your behalf.
Tactic #1: Contacting You Immediately After an Accident
An adjuster for the at-fault party’s insurance company may contact you only a day or two after you’ve been injured, because that gives the company these advantages:
- You may still be emotionally vulnerable in the immediate aftermath of an injury.
- You may not yet have determined the full extent of your injury.
- You probably have not had time to contact an attorney about representing you.
If the adjuster seems nice and appears to be concerned about you, understand that this is a tactic to encourage you to let your guard down. You should say that you have not yet contacted your attorney, and that your attorney will be handling your injury claim on your behalf.
Tactic #2: Asking You to Make a Formal, Recorded Statement
Even if the at-fault party ran a stop sign and crashed into your vehicle in front of witnesses, you must not make a formal statement to the insurance company before you have consulted a Pasadena personal injury lawyer.
If you’ve been injured, never give the at-fault party’s insurance company anything more than the bare facts: the time and place where you were injured, the names of those involved, and in a traffic accident, the make and model of the vehicles involved in the crash.
An adjuster may encourage you to “tell your side of the story” or “set the record straight.” Don’t be tempted. Let your lawyer do the talking for you. Anything you say could be twisted and used against you – even if liability for the accident seems clear and obvious.
Tactic #3: Offering You a Speedy Settlement
When you’re vulnerable immediately after you’ve been injured, you may be tempted to take the money – any money – because you may be out of work at the same time you’re piling up medical expenses. Don’t be tempted by a speedy, “low-ball” settlement offer.
In the first days after you’ve been injured, you may not know the full extent of your injuries, and you may have no idea how much your final medical expenses will cost. If you accept a quick settlement, you waive any right to take further legal action or to seek additional compensation.
A Pasadena personal injury attorney can almost certainly negotiate a more generous settlement amount. This cannot be emphasized too strongly: Let your attorney do all of the talking and negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Tactic #4: Disputing Liability
Liability for an accident may be disputed in several ways. The insurance company may claim:
- You were not seriously injured, and you are exaggerating or fabricating your claim.
- You were not injured in the accident but at another time and place or in another way.
- You were partially or fully at-fault for your own injury.
Seeking immediate medical attention after an accident is the best way to counter allegations that you were not seriously injured or that you were injured elsewhere – before those allegations can be made.
If there were eyewitnesses, try to get their names and contact details, because their statements or testimony can help you prove that the at-fault party was, in fact, at-fault. For the same reason, you and your attorney should also determine if there is any video of your accident.
Tactic #5: Delaying Action on Your Claim
Insurance companies presume that most people will have financial difficulties after an injury. You may be unable to work, the medical bills may be piling up, and if you were hurt in a traffic accident, your vehicle may need to be repaired or replaced.
Some insurance companies take advantage of this vulnerability. A company may delay the processing of your claim until you are desperate enough to take anything that’s offered. An insurance company may also tell you it needs more time to “investigate” what happened.
Don’t take less than your personal injury claim is worth, and don’t just “give up.” That’s what the insurance company wants. Instead, have an aggressive Southern California personal injury lawyer negotiate and advocate on your behalf.
What Does Justice Cost?
If you’ve been injured by another party’s negligence, your first legal consultation with a personal injury lawyer is provided without obligation or cost. You will receive personalized advice and learn how California law applies to your own situation.
If you move forward with an injury claim, you will pay nothing to your lawyer until you are compensated with an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict. If for any reason you are not compensated at the end of the personal injury process, you will not owe anything to your lawyer.
If an insurance company is not meeting its responsibility to you, your attorney will negotiate with the company for the compensation that is rightfully yours. Contact an attorney at once if your claim is denied or if the insurance company is giving you nothing but excuses and delays.
When Should You Reach Out to a Personal Injury Lawyer?
The best strategy is to contact an attorney immediately after you’ve been examined and treated for your injury. When your attorney is part of the case from the beginning, you’ll have help filing your claim, and you can refer all inquiries from the insurance company to your attorney’s office.
Most injury claims are resolved privately, but if the private negotiations fail, your attorney will take your personal injury claim to trial, explain to a jury how you were injured and the extent of your injuries, and ask that jury to order the insurance company to compensate you.
The personal injury statute of limitations in California is two years. This means that you have two years from the date of your injury to initiate legal action. Don’t wait that long. If you’ve been injured, your attorney should examine the evidence and question the witnesses promptly.
If you and your attorney can prove your injury claim, you will be compensated, and the law will be on your side, but the first step is yours. If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, or if you’re injured that way in the future, contact a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible.