I recently received a telephone call from a woman who was driving her 14 year old daughter home from school when they were rearended at high speed. The crash caused her car to go off the road and into a retaining wall. The woman’s new car was a total loss. The woman and her daughter were both injured and were taken to the hospital by ambulance. Everyone knows that an ambulance ride isn’t free. It was a hit and run.
At first, it would appear lucky that the man responsible for the crash returned to the scene 30 minutes later and provided his insurance information to the police. In an accident like this, things can change quickly and getting medical attention should be first and foremost.
The next day, an insurance adjuster for the man who caused the crash called the woman and said he wanted to meet with her so he could take care of her damages. She figured it was an open and shut case and she agreed to the meeting.
She had never been in an accident before and trusted that the insurance company would make things right, just like they do in their television ads. The adjuster came to her house and told her that she would have to go through her own insurance for the damage to her car as the man that hit her did not have enough coverage to pay off the loan. He handed her two checks totaling $2,500 and told her that the checks were a “courtesy” to her and her daughter. He asked her to sign some papers to acknowledge receipt of the checks.
I asked the woman to bring in copies of the paperwork she signed. It turns out the paperwork was really a Release of All Claims for both the woman and her daughter. The Release also covered the damage to the car. The woman released a $25,000 property damage claim and approximately $30,000 worth of bodily injury claims for $2,500. The woman and her daughter were still receiving treatment for their injuries. This isn’t the only trick adjusters use, check this story out on MSN about the Secrets of car insurance adjusters.
It is important to understand that insurance companies are in the business of making money. They train their claims handlers on ways to save money on claims as that results in increased profits. They process thousands of claims per year, so even a small savings per claim adds up to millions of dollars in profits. The insurance companies are motivated to settle your claim for as little as possible and as soon as possible. They are not interested in making sure that you are fairly compensated for your loss or that your medical bills get paid.
Insurance company claims people are usually very experienced and well trained while you likely have little or no experience with insurance claims. The claims examiners know that your car is wrecked, they know that you have mounting medical bills and that you are missing time from work. They have all the leverage. You shouldn’t have to worry about them cutting your claim to increase their profits.
If you or a family member have been injured in an auto accident or other incident that was not your fault you should contact an attorney experienced in personal injury cases as soon as possible and change the level of experience on your side of the table. An experienced attorney can help you through the process and make sure that the insurance company fairly compensates you for your damages as a result of the accident.
The attorneys at the Mastrangelo Law Offices have been assisting people in matters involving serious personal injury and wrongful death for more than 30 years. If you have been in an accident, call us for a free consultation and don’t sign anything that an insurance company gives you until you understand what it is.