Mistake number one – They fail to give the other side the information necessary to settle the case.
Think about it. Imagine you’re an insurance adjuster. You know that before you pay any significant money, you are going to want to be sure of a number of things.
One is that the accident actually caused the injury – that the person making the claim for lumbar surgery hadn’t been going to doctors for his lower back for 15 years before the accident.
Another is that the victim actually lost work because of the accident, and not because of a dispute with his boss, or a worker’s comp injury. Another is the amount of the medical bills – and not just the amount of the bills, but what the victim’s insurance company actually paid on them.
And you look at 2000 claims every year, with nothing to set them apart from one other.
The victim’s lawyer writes you a letter. He sends you copies of some of the medical bills. He won’t give you a medical authorization, and claims the bills are obviously related to the accident, because they happened afterward. But he doesn’t send you copies of the medical records – only the bills.
He tells you what the victim was making before the accident, and that he lost three months of work, but doesn’t provide copies of the employment records. He does not provide any evidence of what the medical insurer paid on the bills.
And he doesn’t tell you anything about the victim – that he was an Eagle Scout, that he has a wife and three kids under 10, that he is a deacon in his church or that he was in line for a promotion when the accident happened.
That case is headed for court. At the very least, it’s headed for delay. Why? Because the adjuster doesn’t have what he needs to evaluate the case.
Insurance people these days are sophisticated. The worst thing you can do is try to fool them. I try to anticipate the insurance adjuster’s needs, and provide certified copies of every document he needs.
This means copies of the records not only of the treating doctor after the accident, but of all treatment from the family doctor before the accident. It means getting copies of the forms W-2 and all the employment records. And I get a copy of the payout records from the health insurance company.
If we have enough time, I write a demand letter that tells the adjuster about my client. It presents the adjuster with all the information I think he’ll want, and if he wants more – that is relevant – I will get it for him.
I do this for several reasons. The adjuster isn’t going to make a good offer until he has all the information. It is practically impossible to “hide” information any more, and when you are caught trying, it ruins your credibility.
Getting all the information first lets me learn the weak spots in my case, and focus the adjuster’s attention on what will help my client. And it saves a lot of time.
If I can provide the information to the adjuster as soon as I get it – when it comes in from the different doctors and hospitals – it makes it easy for him to prepare for his evaluation.
Three years ago a couple came to me. It was December 1, and we had to file suit or settle the case before New Year’s Eve because of the statute of limitations.
They’d been trying to handle the case themselves, and were already resolved they would not file suit.
In fact, they had first gone to a friend of mine, an excellent attorney – and he had turned down the case because he did not think he would have time to settle it without filing suit.
I got copies of all the medical records – really fast. (My secretary is still complaining.) I got the records to the insurance adjuster right away. The adjuster and I argued about some things, but we developed a relationship, and settled the case in a month.
My clients – very nice people – were ecstatic. The attorney who sent me the case was amazed.
I’ve learned that you can only negotiate if you can answer the other side’s questions with the proof they want to see. If you want to talk about your lawsuit, speak with an experienced Cincinnati injury attorney– call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775 in Cincinnati.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.