Rabbits, Lions, Lawyers, and Insurance Companies
Trying to handle your personal injury or family’s wrongful death case without an experienced lawyer in your corner is like putting a baby rabbit into a cage with a hungry mountain lion. The outcome is predictable, and you wouldn’t want to be the rabbit.
Insurance is Big Business
Insurance companies are in business to make lots of money. Each year they earn billions of dollars in profits. Their claims adjusters earn substantial end-of-year bonuses to minimize what they pay out in claims and maximize how much money they help the company make in profits.
Many consumers do not know is that claims adjusters are highly trained professionals. Despite what they tell you or how they sound over the phone, many believe that it’s their job is to do what’s best for their company, not what’s best for you. They believe it’s their job to pay out as little money as legally possible on your claim.
As with any profession, you get the good with the bad. Just like lions, some are kind, while others are man eaters. The challenging part is figuring out which one is which.
Claims Adjusters Receive Hundreds of Hours of Education
Insurance claims adjusters are taught how to communicate with you and how to build rapport. They receive hundreds of hours of specialized education about how to handle the claims process. They are trained on interpreting claims against you and paying as little as possible on your case.
The worst claims adjusters pull out all the stops and know all the dirty tricks to avoid paying money on your case. They’re so good at manipulating the situation that most victims don’t even realize that the smiling claims adjuster is stabbing them in the back with a sharp knife while delaying or rejecting a claim.
Experienced and cagey adjusters use their training to get you to settle cases early during a claim before you know the extent of your injuries and for less than what you may be entitled to receive under the law.
Some claim adjusters are trained or instructed by their bosses to get an injured person or his family to sign a settlement release early in the case. These settlements are sought BEFORE all of your injuries are understood, BEFORE you have fully recovered, BEFORE all of your future medical treatment is known by you and your doctors, and BEFORE all of your past and future bills are calculated.
Insurance claims adjusters are highly trained to do whatever they can to settle claims early and for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, I’ve had accident victims call with questions after settling their case and before ever speaking with a lawyer. They’ve spent all of their settlement to pay for medical bills and now need more money. They continue to have medical problems and can’t afford expensive care or treatment.
Bad Settlements by Good People
Sometimes, victims have told me they entered into what they thought was a fair settlement only to discover later that their case was worth hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars more.
For obvious reasons, these stories make me sick to my stomach. I’ve heard about too many rabbits hopping into the cage with too many insurance adjuster lions. I’ve watched too many victims get taken advantage of over the years.
The low settlements forced victims to live the rest of their lives with a debilitating injury and no funds to pay for medical care or treatment. I also know that the insurance company did not negotiate in good faith with the injury victim and placed its own best financial interest before everyone else.
When this life-changing realization happens, and the victim reaches out for my help, nothing can be done because the written settlement agreement was signed and dated.
When you settle your case incorrectly and later discover later that you need more treatment, surgery, or money, it’s too late. You’re out of luck, and there’s probably nothing I can do.
If you are later fired because you couldn’t do your job, and you settled your case with this kind of written settlement agreement, it’s too late. Again, there’s usually nothing that can be done.
Experience Counts When it Comes to Settling Your Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Case.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 34 years of practicing law, it’s this:
HAVE AN EXPERIENCED LAWYER PROTECT YOUR LEGAL INTEREST. DO NOT TRY TO NEGOTIATE DIRECTLY WITH A CLAIMS ADJUSTER. DO NOT SIGN A SETTLEMENT RELEASE WITHOUT THE ADVICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL. DO NOT BE THE RABBIT JUMPING INTO THE CAGE WITH THE HUNGRY LION.
Look, my simple and straightforward recommendation is not to talk to any insurance representatives or investigators until you’ve found, interviewed, and hired an experienced personal injury and wrongful death lawyer to help you with your case. Here are my favorite three ways to find a good lawyer.
Until you’ve found a lawyer, DO NOT give an oral or written statement to anyone. Sign no documents until you know all the facts, options, and your legal rights.
I hope this post motivates you to take the time to find a good lawyer in your state to help you with your personal injury or wrongful death case. If you have any questions, please reach out.
PS- I guess there’s one exception to this story. If you’ve grown up with lions and know how they behave, the situation is doable. This is me back in the day saying hello to “George the Mountain Lion” 😉