3 Takeaways from Thousands of Baltimore Car Accidents.
Anyone who has been involved in a personal injury-causing accident or event no doubt has many pressing questions.
- Who pays my medical expenses?
- Who’s going to cover my lost wages if I miss work ?
- How will my car get fixed?
There are I have found also secondary questions that arise in the aftermath of any serious automobile accident. Those are questions such as:
- How much is my case worth?
- What is the value of my personal injury case?
At the same time, anyone who watches television has also been exposed to advertisements from massively profitable insurance companies, assuring us “you’re in good hands”, or you’ll get help from a company that behaves “like a good neighbor”. What I’ve seen over the years is that the experience of those hurt in an automobile accident, or another personal injury event, in which the at-fault party is insured by one of those massively profitable insurance companies, does not in any way leave them feeling that they are in the comfortable care of a trusted neighbor. Indeed, it is more often the case that I see anything ranging from disappointment to disbelief and outright outrage at the amounts being offered.
Insurance Companies Miminize Personal Injuries.
The ploy of the insurance company in my opinion, first and foremost, is to minimize the event and the aftermath. How I often see this play out is for an insurance company to repeatedly refer to a car accident as being one involving a “minimal impact” or “no property damage”. That same insurance company representative will likely also minimize the aftermath of the accident by trivializing the nature in the extent of the injuries. Telltale buzzwords here are things such as “only soft tissue injuries.” That same adjuster may ask the seemingly confirmatory question [to which they know the answer]: “there weren’t any broken bones were there” -as if broken bones are the only determining factor as to whether or not one has been really hurt in a car accident. It’s really a question of setting the dialogue. As in every other facet of life, where the tenor and tone of a dialogue is set initially, and repeated, and reinforced throughout the conversation, at some point, it’s almost as though the contents of that dialogue become established as fact. So, if an insurance company has set the tenor of the conversation by noting that we are dealing with only “soft tissue injuries” it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me when at the initiation of settlement discussions, the representative says we’re not putting a lot of value on this case, because really, these are only very minor injuries.
Many Insurance Companies Use Computers to Value Personal Injuries.
It does come as a surprise, sometimes, to those injured in a car accident, or otherwise, the insurance companies don’t really conduct an individualized particularized valuation of their claim. Many, if not most, of the large insurance companies, in fact, use settlement software to determine what they intend to offer to a personal injury claimant. The highest number in a range of numbers number that’s spat out by this computer software is typically the highest amount that would be offered. Although the approaches certainly vary from company to company and software to software, the general principle is that a claims adjuster will put in data, and the software will assign a number to that data. That number, or range of numbers, is what that software says that claim should be worth. In the routine case, that number will not be altered, amended or modified by any human agency or action.
Insurance Companies Will Use Your Lack of Knowledge Against You
What I also frequently see is some errors in judgment that can have a massive impact on the outcome of a case. I use the term “errors in judgment” advisedly, as of course someone who had not been involved in a car accident or personal injury claim would have no way to anticipate or apprehend that they’re making a mistake. When I say error in judgment, it is probably more appropriate and likely fairer to talk about “missteps”.
- A delay in medical treatment
- Failure to document all expenses, and all facets of the injury
- An assumption that personal injury law is designed to punish those causing the injury
My standard question and follow-up advice to anyone who calls me immediately after a Baltimore car accident, is, have you been injured, and if so, what is the plan to have that injury evaluated and treated if necessary, by a medical professional? I’ve seen countless injury victims over the years assume that their injury will get better, or that home remedies or over-the-counter medications will suffice, and return them to health. Sometimes, mother nature does heal. Sometimes, father time does not heal. A problem arises when that individual has waited two or three weeks before being seen by a doctor, while assuming they’re going to get better. Many insurance companies, perhaps most, and many jurors, perhaps most, view that delay in treatment with great skepticism. There’s no question that such a delay in medical can lead to a discounting or devaluing of a claim.
It’s not uncommon for a personal injury claim to take many months or potentially years to resolve. It’s not uncommon for a trial to occur two or three years after the event or accident. In those circumstances, an injured person will be called upon to recount the ways that their accident and injury have impacted the normal course and flow of their life. I’ve often found those injured people who keep contemporaneous records of each of the problems they have encountered are in a better position to fully recount their journey in court.