Every personal injury victim in Los Angeles County is unique. The same garden variety rear-end car accident can produce completely different consequences for people, depending on their past experiences, their natural predisposition, and even something as seemingly unrelated as their current family situation. A busy mother of four, who has never been in a car accident before, who exercises regularly, has no preexisting conditions, and has the care and support of her family and friends to fall back on may simply shake off the whole event, get her car repaired and not even feel any injuries. She may forget about the whole thing in about a month. This is the scenario that Los Angeles County insurance claims adjusters have in their minds when a claim comes through the door. And probably, the majority of all Los Angeles rear-end car accidents mimic this pattern, and get resolved amicably to the satisfaction of the claimant. The issues arise when the claimant deviates in some way from the standard textbook example.
Case Example of Personal Injury Victim with History of Prior Accidents
Take for instance Gertrude, a 50 year old swim instructor with extensive history of prior accidents. As a young girl, she's been assaulted, and suffered traumatic brain injury. Gertrude lives alone, and has no family or friends on whom she can rely. The car accident shook her to the core and brought back all of the memories of the pain and anxiety she suffered throughout her life. Although she's been symptom free for over ten years prior to her accident, this minor rear-end car accident caused her post-concussive symptoms to come back with a vengeance. Gertrude quit her job as a swim instructor and holed up in her apartment, suffering from excruciating psychosomatic pain. Gertrude is a classic example of an eggshell plaintiff. She is the outlier, an extremely fragile person who breaks a lot easier than most, and suffers debilitating consequences from a seemingly minor injury. But the insurance adjuster doesn't know this. Without an adequate explanation and diagnosis, they will think that Gertrude is exaggerating, trying to unfairly increase the value of her claim. She will lose credibility, and her claim may be rejected completely.
Fortunately, Gertrude hired our Los Angeles personal injury law firm early on in her case. Our attorneys were able to document her symptoms right from the start, and follow up with all of her treating physicians to ensure her diagnosis was consistent with the claim. Our law firm hired the experts to explain Gertrude's condition, and to establish a direct link between her current symptoms and the collision. We have anticipated all of the tricks that insurance companies use to minimize the value of victim's claims, and made sure that we had a ready response for defense's most common curve balls. See our related blog: How Insurance Companies Try to Limit Your Recovery.
What You Should Know When Dealing With Insurance Companies
One of the reasons self-represented litigants are frequently stonewalled by the insurance companies is leverage. The threat of litigation, the expense and potential exposure to the defendant are the driving forces behind any successful claim. The insurance companies know that the chances of someone without a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer bringing a lawsuit are minimal. They are therefore much more likely to simply ignore or lowball demands that come from victims without an attorney. One of the most complicated issues after a car accident is dealing with the insurance company. Typically after a few days of the car accident, an insurance claims adjuster will contact you in an effort to settle the claim as soon as possible. In order to help you avoid accepting a lowball settlement, there are several things you should be aware of when dealing with a California insurance company:
- Insurance claims adjusters are trained negotiators – Don't be fooled. In spite of their friendliness and apparent compassion about your injuries, they are not looking out for your best interest. The main job of an insurance adjuster is to protect the best interest of the insurance company. They are specifically trained to minimize the amount of money paid out on every claim. This includes your claim. They will often deny a claim or not recognize the full value of a personal injury case.
- Insurance companies are under no obligation to treat you fairly – This fact is especially true if you are involved in a car accident in Los Angeles where the other driver was clearly at fault, and you are attempting to file a claim against their insurance company. This applies even if the at-fault driver cooperates with the insurance company. They can still deny or delay paying your claim. Typically, this is why their first offer is a lowball offer.
- Don't automatically accept the first insurance settlement offer – In most car accident cases, it's not a fair offer. Insurance adjusters understand that most people need money right away to get their car repaired or pay medical expenses. They know Los Angeles car accident victims are vulnerable in these early stages and will almost always offer a lowball settlement soon after the accident.
- Insurance companies will try to avoid paying your medical expenses – As part of their effort to minimize your settlement offer, the claims adjuster might make a suggestion you are not being truthful about the extent of your injuries and might even suggest you are attempting to commit fraud. In some cases, like the example of our client Gertrude above, they might claim your injuries were part of a pre-existing condition. This is especially true if you did not go to the hospital emergency room immediately following your car accident.
- Statements you make to an insurance company will be used against you – Insurance claims adjusters in Los Angeles want you to agree with them on their version of the car accident. Don't make the mistake of giving statements to an adjuster. Don't agree to the questions they ask you. Never give a recorded statement or sign any settlement agreement until you have consulted with a personal injury attorney at our law firm.
The key factor to always remember when you are getting a lowball offer from an insurance company after a car accident is their main goal is to settle you claim for least amount possible. They are not your friend. It's in your best interest to consult with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to review the details of your car accident and to discuss legal options.
Contact a Los Angles Personal Injury Attorney
Having an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer on your side is essential. It not only gives you voice where you would otherwise be ignored, it helps you maximize the value of your case by structuring in a way that preserves and develops all of your potential claims. If you have been injured in a car accident due the negligence of another, let our personal injury attorneys review the details. Our lawyers are experienced in handling car accident cases and will deal with the insurance company to make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Call our office at 310-734-7974 for a free case evaluation.