If you have been injured in a car accident, you may think you can just pick up the phone and get a good settlement. Good luck with that! While some jobs are do-it-yourself, knowing how to develop and argue a personal injury claim, negotiate with shrewd Texas car insurance adjusters, and try your case in a courtroom are not things you can master by watching a You Tube video. You won’t know how to proceed in the complicated legal, medical, and insurance worlds. So you are bound to make mistakes that will cost you a lot of money, time, and frustration.
We get calls almost daily from people after 3 months, 12 months, or even several years since their car crash asking us if we can take over handling their cases. They have gotten little if any response from the other driver’s or their own insurance companies. Or they received another stalling demand for information. Or after waiting forever, they finally got a low-ball offer.
They have no way to pay for their needed medical treatment and may still be not able to work. These people are justifiably angry and overwhelmed by the amount of work involved and the poor results.
We understand how frustrated they are. But like they say, if it were easy, anyone could do it.
So many mistakes may have been made that we often are not able to help them get the results they want. We wish they had contacted us or another good personal injury law firm immediately after the car accident. We have many in the DFW area. The choice can be hard, so here are tips to help you decide who to hire.
Like it or not, Texas car insurance adjusters are trained to take advantage of people. Each one has 500 claims just like yours. While it’s your life, you are just a computer file to them.
The adjusters have a lot of secrets they won’t tell you. Here are some of them.
1. They will act friendly but do everything to cheat you out of your damages.
You may still be recovering in the hospital or getting home after the collision. You are in pain and taking medications. They don’t care. They are trained to call you immediately. You anxiously wait, hoping to find out what happens next, who is going to pay to have your car towed or repaired, and which doctor they will pay for.
While they act like they are going to take care of you, they have no intention of doing that. So when they make vague promises like “we’ll pay for your bills” but not specify which ones or how much, they will later deny they ever said that and it will be your word against theirs.
The adjusters are reading a script from the computer. They are not authorized to do anything other than keep the payout to you as little as possible. Their jobs, pay, and bonuses are based on the offers they make and what are accepted.
There are hundreds of automobile liability insurance companies. Most are bad because they all are driven by one goal: maximizing profit at your expense.
No, they are clearly not your friends. Forgot all those million dollar ad campaigns drilled into your head about how they are your “good neighbor” or are “on your side.” Just the opposite.
2. They will cram those answers down your throat later.
They will say they have to ask you “a few” questions and of course, you will say yes, thinking you have to and that this will help your case. But they intend to use your answers against you later, either in the settlement negotiations or in court.
They may be secretly recording your call. Texas is a one-party state which allows that. And their supervisors may be listened in too and sending them texts as to what to ask you next.
For example, even a question as innocent as “how you are doing?” that you will probably answer with “fine” will be argued later to mean that you said that you were not injured. Yes, this happens.
Their real objection in that first call is to get you to admit negative facts that they will then use to deny, delay, and defend your claim, including that you
- were not hurt immediately or did not say you were hurt to the police,
- are not as injured as you claim,
- are able to work, and
- had been injured in the past.
But you are not required to give a recorded statement. Only if one is absolutely necessary, a good personal injury attorney will review the facts, tell you the questions you can expect, practice with you, and require strict guidelines so the answers can’t be used in court.
3. They will have lots of excuses why they don’t want to pay you.
Get used to hearing “we are processing your claim,” “we need more proof of your injuries” or “we are waiting to hear from our driver/another driver/the police/a doctor/a supervisor.” The excuses are endless.
Then you aren’t sure if they will pay for your medical treatment so you don’t go. Or there is a gap in the treatment dates as you wait to hear back. You can be sure they will use against you later when they give you a tiny offer.
There are plenty more ways these companies take advantage of people: claim denials in car accident cases
4. They know the crash wasn’t your fault, but will blame you. . .
Since your damages are reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you, if the adjuster can get you to admit you might have helped cause the auto collision or that you could have avoided it, he will limit the amount of your settlement check. For example, if the case has a value of the typical liability policy limit of $30,000.00 and he can trick you into finding that you are 25% at fault for failing to maintain attention or avoid the collision, that just cost you $7,500.00.
Sometimes Texas car insurance adjusters will flat out refuse to pay anything, knowing there’s not much you can do about it — other than hire an injury lawyer — but by then it may be too late.
5 . . . . Or will blame other drivers or causes without justification.
The car behind you, the one in front of you, the one on the other side of the road, the weather, the setting sun, the pavement — all are used as excuses to get out of paying you money.
For example, Mr. Berenson had a case several years ago where the at-fault driver’s attorney filed a motion to add a “John Doe” to the case. He had allegedly allowed a box to blow across the highway, causing his client and the 16-year-old tailgating her and surfing the net, to brake, when his client was seriously injured and ended up having her neck fused . The judge threw that attempt out and the case settled in a mediation just before trial for a favorable sum.
6. They will make you sign a blank medical authorization and then use unrelated records against you.
The last thing you want to do is give the insurance adjuster the unlimited right to get your entire medical file from the day you were born. He will undoubtedly find some vague reference, typo, or mistake in the records and say you were already hurt at the time of the car wreck or certainly that you had been hurt in the past.
7. They will try to talk you into a fast settlement with a low ball offer.
Insurance companies know that you have bills to pay and lost wages to worry about. They know that a lot of people will jump at instant cash, especially as they keep dragging things out.
When it comes time to settle, he will offer you a lot less than the case is worth. He knows that most people will take it, not knowing any better and needing the money.
If you accept a low offer, the minute you sign a release, you can never recover any more money — even if you are later diagnosed with a herniated disc and need surgery.
8. They will use unfair computer programs that minimize your case’s value.
Many companies use a company called Colossus that unfairly minimizes how much your case is worth based on one-sided information Texas car insurance adjusters feed into the spreadsheet. It’s the old “garbage in, garbage out” formula that is designed to reach a low number.
If the computer recommends an offer of, say, $20,000.00, the adjuster is never allowed to offer more than 75% of that, or $15,000.00 — even though your case may be worth $30,000.00 or more.
9. They will convince you not to hire a lawyer. . .
If your collision happened in the North Texas area, companies know that a top Fort Worth personal injury lawyer aggressively gathers critical evidence, files a lawsuit, and gets a jury to award damages if a settlement offer is not fair.
They rope you in before you have had time to consult with a lawyer to learn what your rights are. The practice called “swoop and settle” is so obnoxious that a Texas state legislator tried to outlaw it in this last session in Austin. Guess what, the bill failed.
Insurance companies will take your case much more seriously if you have an attorney. They know that he can take your case to court and probably get a much larger verdict from a jury.
10. … Or that the lawyer is too expensive and is not worth it.
Here’s their favorite one: fear. Why do you think that argument is even on their screen to argue? Because the last thing they want is some aggressive attorney working the case, arguing its strengths (and minimizing any weaknesses) and making them pay a lot more money than they want to, right?
Personal injury attorneys are really a very good deal if you had more information to consider. How much money does a car accident lawyer charge?
Studies have shown that injured victims who hire attorneys get 3.5 times as much money as people who don’t hire them. And based on what we have seen here, that number is much higher. For example, we are negotiating several cases where people were crashed into by 18-wheelers who was offered no money while they tried to represent themselves for over one year. Two have now received a substantial settlement offers and we are filed a lawsuit on the third.
And most companies build the injury lawyer fee into the settlement formula since they don’t want to get sued and have to pay their own attorneys and risk a high verdict being awarded.
Your accident lawyer can also negotiate for a reduction in your medical bills and liens so more of the money goes to you instead of hospitals and doctors.
A good Texas accident attorney will evaluate your case for FREE
The bottom line is that if you try to handle your injury case yourself, you will lose a lot of money, not to mention go through a lot of unnecessary stress.
Mr. Berenson can answer any questions you have about dealing successfully with insurance companies and give you a free case evaluation. He has represented thousands of injured Texans in the past nearly 40 years. He and his staff can explain more about what to expect out of the process and how to empower yourself to recover the compensation you are entitled to.
If you have been injured and don’t want this to happen to you as you get the usual run around from Texas car insurance adjusters, please contact us here or call us at 1-885-801-8585. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Stops to negotiating a personal injury settlement