I for one have spend over two decades supporting consumer rights and doing my best to guide many through the maze of difficult situations without the need to engage the services of legal counsel. It has seemed clear to me that bringing an attorney in on the negotiations, or even simply the communication stages, of conflicts between parties serves with a negative result far more times than a positive one.
Well I followed my own advice recently and discovered this advice simply does not apply in times where you have been in an auto accident and you are faced with damage claims against the other driver’s insurance company. Or at least in my case if the other insurance company is State Farm Insurance.
I had a rear end collision as I sat at an intersection waiting for traffic to clear. The car that hit me from behind simply failed to stop and as a result I sustained, while hopefully not permanent, significant injuries to my neck, back and head.
As the injuries started to reveal themselves, as they do slowly after this type of accident, I was told by several friends and even a family member to absolutely go see an attorney to handle the claim. I was hesitant for several reasons. First because of my occupation as a consumer advocate where basically I deal with these types of cases all the time, and because I initially did not think the damages were going to last as long as they did and third because State Farm Insurance was for over a decade a client of mine and for some seemly insane reason I felt still connected or at least a sense of loyalty to the company. So with respect to “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there…” NOT IN MY CASE!
Well, ultimately I did interview two attorneys and both as they reviewed the details of the case said this should be a very easy matter to resolve… we just need to wait for your doctors and medical advisers finish their work and when you are feeling better we can submit the claim. One of the attorneys even called the adjuster for State Farm while I was in his office and inquired for me as to the status of the claim and the coverage of a rental car. During that call which was on speaker phone, the adjuster after pulling up the claim stated… “Yes sir, we have the claim here and we have accepted 100% liability for the accident and I will call the rental company to let them know it is covered.” Needless to say, these conversations did nothing but reassure me that I could handle this matter on my own and without need to pay 33% to an attorney…. since obviously I am a bright guy and can submit the bills on my own.
WELL that mind set became a nightmare for me over the next 2 months. As soon as the insurance company received a letter from the attorney telling them that I had cancelled the retention of their services, it was one delay, one promise after another, week after week. They even sent me a letter, after I complained about the delays, saying they were reassigning my claim to an adjuster “assumable” to get the claim back on track, however the first thing that adjuster told me “after apologizing for the delays I had received” was that she was pretty backed up on cases and would not be able to look at mine for a week.
Then after a month of delays with the “new” adjuster, I was pushed all the way to the point where I made mistake number two! I became so frustrated by the delays and the fact I even received a collection call from one of the medical providers, that I reached out to the State Farm adjuster and told her… ” I am now getting damaged by these delays and headed for collections!”
This was NOT the thing to tell an insurance company adjuster whose job is to minimize the amount they pay out on every claim possible. All of a sudden the claim status went from… We will have this all taken care of by tomorrow and get you a check directly into your bank account to….. we need more time to review the claim and it does not appear the damage to your car reflects enough damage where your injuries match up! REALLY!!! REALLY! I was now experiencing pain and suffering which was from the claims process… after I had already experienced the pain and suffering from the accident itself. The only problem is … the insurance company was creating this round of pain and suffering and in speaking with counsel this is what they do when they see the opportunity to exploit claimant’s financial situation caused by their loss of work, medical bills etc.
So… To Attorney, or not to Attorney – that is the question. And the answer is HECK yes…. get one the day you are in an accident and just let them do their job. 33%? It is well worth it when you consider the pain and suffering you will go through just talking with an adjuster that sounds like they want to help you when in reality they are just waiting for that moment where you disclose any weakness where they can use the weakness to force you into a position of settling for pennies on your claim vs actually receiving what you should from the injuries you incurred by their insured.
I am fortunate that I could resolve my medical bills and put this matter behind me. The attorneys also offered me a discount since my file was so well prepared and organized… so that will save me thousands in the process. However for those that are in accidents and do not know what to do next or how to document your claim and your injuries, well for you… email me. I am preparing a consumer report for accident victims that will keep you from making any of the top 10 mistakes when processing your claim and show you how to: identify bad faith issues with the insurance company, avoid delays from insurance claims, select an attorney and how NOT to allow the insurance company, whether it is State Farm or other, to take advantage of you when you are down and broken from an accident.
Wishing all my readers well and peace through any trials such as these. Your pain and suffering can be over before you know it… just do not allow an insurance company to deal with you in bad faith. BTW, do you know the legal definition of BAD FAITH or what constitutes bad faith by an insurance company? It may surprise you and it is covered in my consumer report. To receive a copy of my report for only $17.95, contact me through my CONTACT page link above. The report cost to regular clients, based upon the normal rates would be $1,250.00 … however I prepared this for all consumers wanting the answers so the cost is on the minimal published rate. I know you will benefit from it and it can save you thousands on your claim too.