Categorized | Opinion

Chance to be Fair

By David PeelDavid Peel

As an injury attorney with many good Christian clients, I have heard so many times the story of injured victims “letting the insurance company have a chance to be fair.”  While I’m all for the sentiment of trying to give them a chance, I cannot ignore the reality of the unpredictable results of doing that.
Certainly, now and then, injured victims might be fairly compensated for what they went through buying insurance company without much of a fight. In my view I have seen this so rarely, it’s hardly worth mentioning.  More often, I see the insurance company be pretty fair and prompt on the property damage settlement for the totaled car, and that gives the injured victim some belief and hope that they’ll be just as reasonable when it comes to the compensation for their injuries.  Of course, that is not usually the case.
The most common result I see of “letting the insurance company have a chance to be fair” is months of delay, a very low settlement offer, a lot of frustration, and sometimes an even worse result. You may or may not know this, but in Tennessee you only have one year to file a lawsuit. I have seen a very seriously injured person be led along by talking with an insurance company who unscrupulously waits until after the statute of limitations saying “sorry, there’s nothing you can do now.” On a couple occasions, I’ve even seen injured clients sign a release to get the Car paid for that actually released all their injury claims too.  Several times I have seen adjusters go to the house and settle a case for $500.00 before the person even goes back to the doctor to find out what was really wrong with them. Thankfully, these unethical behaviors are not the norm.  However, the making lowball offers after stretching it out for months and hope that you go away cheaply is quite common.
And there’s another problem with trying to let the insurance company be fair sometimes. And that is the setting of reserves by the insurance company.
You may never have heard of “reserves” but it’s one of the most important parts of getting a case resolved promptly and fairly. A claims adjuster initially reserves and amount of money that they believe will fairly compensate the victim of an accident.
Many factors can go into a general reserve setting for an accident.  Some that are usually included would be the severity of the impact, the number of people involved, the severity of the injuries on the scene, whether people were transported from the scene by ambulance or airlift, and whether or not the liable person was intoxicated. This may seem like common sense. But another factor that I suggest is often used is whether the person sought representation. If that attorney sends a letter early on, and brings up the relevant issues to help set up fair reserve, there is a much better chance that the case can be resolved fairly and promptly. This brings up one of the myths of attorney representation: some people think that hiring an attorney means that you go for a long time and wind up in court. The reality is that about 98% of all cases settle at some point.
In summary, it is always a nice surprise when I hear that someone worked out their case with an adjuster without representation and were compensated in a fair manner. But, for me, it is a nice surprise. It is not the norm. The norm is to be strung along and after a lot of frustration and a lot of phone calls and hassle, to get a lowball offer or a complete denial. That is where many of my cases come from. And I have to go back and rebuild the case from day one, by getting the reserves reset appropriately to begin with.
I’ll co-op another’s slogan and say it this way: “if you’re seriously injured and you don’t get help with me, get help with someone.”
Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.

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