Insurance companies are infamous for performing due diligence when considering an insurance claim payout. In many cases, an immediate refusal to allow a claim is standard company policy. The process is legally termed as “bad faith” and, sadly, is understood within the legal profession as typical initial behavior. This and other possible negative scenarios make it important to retain an attorney immediately.
The insurance company could either balk at honoring an obvious claim, draw out the process purposely, or attempt to settle the case completely in quick fashion. Both situations can be problematic because both are aimed at limiting the final payout.
Do Not Handle the Claim Personally
Many insurance companies offer beginning coverage payouts soon, but will then be quick to request a full medical release for personal injuries after immediate treatment. This tactic is used when an injury victim may heal with some degree of success quickly, but have an injury that will surely return in the future. This is a common component of a back injury claim, as back injuries rarely heal to prior condition and will worsen over time.
The offer to settle quickly with a full medical release of future responsibilities is a common adjuster trick and an obvious red flag warranting legal advice because the claim has more value than the injured novice understands. Conversely, refusing an initial claim will probably result in the adjuster impeding a claim in an effort to wait the injured party out, which can establish a bad faith legal claim against the insurer.
Retain an Attorney and Let Him Negotiate
Insurance company adjusters are professional negotiators, and claimant legal representatives, whether Houston car accident attorneys or personal injury lawyers from Connecticut, are well aware of their mission. The adjuster is only obligated to the insurance company and the company client.
The actual respondent in any lawsuit is the client, unless the insurance company uses extensive and provable bad faith measures to avoid paying an obviously covered plaintiff. Bad faith suits can be filed separately, allowing an experienced accident attorney to demonstrate to the court that the insurance company knew they had a valid claim and were using bargaining methods that compromised the victim’s ability for a maximum award.
In particularly egregious negligence situations, this can mean that the insurance can be liable for punitive damages for bargaining in bad faith just as the respondent can be liable for normal punitive damages.
The Difference in Compensatory and Punitive Damages
Compensatory damages refer to actual documented financial expenses which the respondent must repay to the injured plaintiff. These include medical bills, property damage, and potential loss of income. Loss of income amounts can be based on the long-term injury prognosis for the injured party and are normally addressed at the primary respondent.
The insurance company is not always the respondent, but is legally bound to provide damage coverage for the them. The respondent carries a maximum coverage level. Additional awards must be provided by the respondent if the insurance company pays the coverage cap in good faith. An injured novice can rarely receive a punitive claim because this is the award that all respondents want to avoid, especially insurance companies. Insurance companies can only be liable for punitive payouts when they have acted in provable bad faith.
The ultimate reason for hiring an accident attorney is maximizing the financial value of a claim. The attorney’s fee can often be worth the investment, and then some. Accidents are evaluated for free and the attorney is not paid until the victim is paid.
Personal research of the law, one’s insurance policy, and other pertinent factors are a smart move and can definitely play a role in one’s case, but unlike an injured novice, personal injury attorneys can easily recognize all liable parties in an accident claim. They can ensure each respondent’s identification in the injury claim, and that the proper documents are obtained, filed, and presented to insurers and in court, resulting in a maximum financial award for the injured claimant.
Author Molly Pearce often addresses the subjects of the law and human rights in her work in the hopes of enlightening readers about ways to protect themselves in the midst of trying legal and financial situations. Research for this post and others was gathered from houston-accidentattorney(dot)com, a comprehensive source for legal information, blogs, and experienced Houston car accident attorneys, particularly in the area of dealing with insurance companies.