This is the second installment in our two-part blog post offering an overview of some of the tactics used by insurance companies to refuse to pay for damages caused by the negligence of their insured. Our Miami personal injury lawyers have provided a few examples of ways insurance companies will try to mitigate their liability and avoid paying valid claims. If you have specific questions about your situation, we invite you to contact us.
Providing a Check for a Low-ball Amount: The insurance company might surprise you by sending a check shortly after the accident or offering a quick settlement. The initial settlement proposal from an insurance company will NEVER be equal to the actual value of your claim. A quick settlement offer or check means that the insurer has a reasonable concern you might receive a substantially larger recovery in litigation. The insurance company also knows that the best time to persuade a car crash victim to accept a lowball claim is early before the insurer obtains legal advice regarding the strength and value of his or her claim. The check or settlement offer will be accompanied with a document called a “General Release” or a similar document that releases ANY AND ALL claims including those that an injury victim does not even know exist. If you discover injuries after signing a General Release, you might not even have access to funds to pay medical bills. The best practice is never to sign any documents provided by an insurance company without obtaining legal advice.
Communicating Directly: The insurance adjuster also might call you and attempt to ask you questions or communicate with you about your claim. Frequently, insurance adjusters are affable people, but they do not have your best interest in mind. The adjuster will attempt to obtain information that can be used to weaken your chance of recovery or decrease the value of your claim. All communications with the at-fault driver’s insurance company should be conducted by an experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney.
Dismissing the Need for an Attorney: Insurance company representatives might contend that the claim can be resolved without the need for you to retain legal counsel. This statement is absolutely false! The insurance company has absolutely no reason to pay you close to the full value of your claim unless the insurer has a legitimate concern about litigation and the possibility of a larger judgment at trial. When you retain counsel, your lawyer can estimate your potential damages, evaluate the likelihood of success at trial, and assist you in deciding whether to accept a settlement.
Waiting for Unrepresented Parties to Make Mistakes: The insurance company will be in no hurry to settle a claim with an unrepresented injury victim. The insurer recognizes that personal injury victims without the benefit of legal advice often make devastating mistakes. The failure to comply with deadlines related to legal claims, for example, can have serious consequences. The statute of limitations is the deadline that dictates how long a personal injury victim has to initiate a lawsuit. If an injury victim fails to comply with this deadline, the claim will be permanently barred subject to narrow exceptions. There is no hardship exception, so the claim is barred regardless of the merits. Similarly, a lawsuit against a public entity usually requires an injury victim to comply with special procedures and timing requirements. If you fail to provide timely notice to the public entity under the applicable “tort claims act,” your right to sue the public entity generally will be barred. The time limit imposed under tort claims acts is usually much shorter than those imposed by the statute of limitations. If you are in a car accident with an uninsured driver, the financial consequences of losing your right to sue the State of Florida for a dangerous road can be catastrophic.
Monitoring Social Networks: Insurance companies are increasingly using information gleaned from social media websites as evidence in personal injury lawsuits. The insurer might search for photos of an injury victim engaging in conduct inconsistent with a claimed injury. Alternatively, the insurer could scour a Facebook page for a potentially damaging admission, such as indicating you were not wearing a seatbelt or were speeding during a crash. Although many people assume information in password protected areas on social media sites is safe, judges are increasingly ordering parties involved in civil litigation to provide login information for social media sites during discovery.
Greenberg Stone and Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence
If you have been injured in a car accident, our Florida Auto Collision Injury Attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.