Below is a guest article regarding insurance and personal injury claims. Further guest blog posts welcome – hit the blue button to begin.
All the reassuring advertising means nothing when you file a claim with a major insurance company. Attempting to negotiate for an equitable settlement, you are in the hands of nasty companions, and mayhem rules. You need a skilled, experienced attorney’s professional assistance.
Medical, accident and worker’s compensation insurance should pay all reasonable costs of treatment and recovery regardless of people’s recklessness, negligence, or legal responsibility. Accident insurance usually covers lost wages and “loss of the enjoyment of life,” and worker’s compensation should provide income protection and pay the costs of retraining if you cannot resume your regular job duties. Note the qualifiers “usually” and “should.” In disputes over claims, insurance companies become their policy holders’ bitter, brutal adversaries. In fact, generating settlement offers, the biggest insurance companies feed numbers into their “actuarial calculation” software, which runs a few algorithms and spits-out the lowest possible offer. The process works efficiently but not equitably.
Of course, insurance companies employ legions of accountants and attorneys. If you attempt to negotiate on your own, the company has you considerably out-manned and out-gunned. Insurance industry analyses routinely show only one in five claimants successfully negotiates on his or her own behalf, winning compensation up to legal and policy limits. The converse also applies. Nearly 80 percent of claimants who retain legal counsel win compensation up to, and sometimes beyond, policy limits.
Retain an attorney who knows insurance.
In their practice of the law, attorneys draw a subtle but important distinction between personal-injury practice and practice focused on insurance law. Personal injury lawyers file civil actions against people who behave recklessly or negligently; insurance lawyers focus on collecting fair settlements from large carriers, forcing them to comply with statutes regulating insurance coverage and compensation. Personal injury law focuses on people’s bad deeds; insurance law focuses on big companies’ cold, callous stinginess. You absolutely should contact an insurance law practitioner when…
• the insurance company denies a legitimate claim.
These cases typically defy all logic and common sense, because you and your symptoms clearly match the conditions described in your insurance, yet the company refuses to pay the costs of your treatment. Your attorney knows where, when, and how to work your leverage and win the payments you deserve.
• the insurance company tenders a “low-ball” settlement offer.
The more pressure you feel from the insurance company, the more you must understand the urgency originates in the offer’s inadequacy. People who represents themselves in insurance negotiations generally cave under the pressure, settling way too soon and for way too little. If your attorney exerts similar pressure for you to settle on a first or second offer, he may feel more eager to earn his contingency fee than represent your interests. A skilled insurance lawyer will demonstrate to you and the insurance company just exactly what you should receive, advising you not to settle for less.
• insurance companies claim conflicts between accident and personal injury policies.
This, too, defies most common sense, prompting the question, “What’s the difference between a personal injury and an accident?” In the law, the difference turns on fault. Personal injury coverage pays only when the insured clearly bears responsibility for your injuries; accident insurance covers you regardless of who must take responsibility. Some people carry both kinds of insurance, and some states mandate personal injury insurance only. A skilled attorney guides you out of this thick gray fog.
• you have a worker’s compensation dispute.
Worker’s compensation cases do not depend on proving that your employer failed to protect you; instead, they depend on proving that your treatment, recovery, and retraining genuinely will cost as much as you claim. Your attorney knows precisely how to assemble evidence and forecast expenses so that she can force the insurance company to honor its contract with you and comply with the laws in your state. Disputes usually focus on rehabilitation and retraining costs rather than payments for medical treatment, and the money you already have received matters little by comparison with the money you may receive in future payments. Your attorney knows the laws and formulas, and she speaks the language of insurance, so she takes away the company’s natural advantages.
• you feel overwhelmed, intimidated, and desperate.
Conscienceless and extremely cost-conscious, the insurance company gleefully will exploit your pain, fatigue, and stress. Skilled negotiation requires both knowledge and painstaking preparation, usually as much or more than going to trial. As you recover from your injuries, you naturally lack energy and stamina to do all the work you should. Your attorney relieves the burden and anguish, building your case as “zealous representation” demands.
A reputable, reliable insurance attorney will charge you nothing unless she prevails in your case. An excellent attorney even will dedicate part of her case evaluation to helping you assess whether or not the benefits of her advice and counsel justify the costs, because she understands as well as you do how her fees can wipe-out your gains from a relatively small settlement. Before you decide how to wage your legal war for just compensation, discuss your situation with a qualified insurance attorney.
Andrew Greene is a freelance insurance writer who blogs for ppiclaims.org.uk, a site he recommends if you’re looking to claim back your ppi.