Articles Posted in Insurance Claims

Gavel, law book, and paper with the text "personal injury"Maybe you’ve been in an accident and you’re hurting. It’s a difficult and harried time – doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, you’re missing work, and the bills are piling up. Unfortunately, many people struggle through instead of getting the help they need. A personal injury attorney can help you through this process and give you peace of mind so that you can focus on your recovery and your future. In this post, we’re going to discuss exactly how a lawyer can help you move forward.   

Claim Evaluation

The first thing a personal injury attorney can do is help you evaluate your claim. In some cases, it’s clear that your injury is the result of someone else’s negligence, but it can be difficult to sort out in most cases, especially when you’re in pain. In fact, many people don’t realize that they they should pursue a claim until it’s too late.  An experienced personal injury attorney can clarify the factors that caused your accident and determine whether or not someone else’s carelessness was the cause. From there, your lawyer can then determine the likelihood of success if you decide to pursue the at-fault party.

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Two books and a gavel resting on a desk.

“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”  But do good neighbors try to cheat you out of coverage that you paid for, and then rig the courts to avoid responsibility? This is the exact scenario that was alleged in some litigation filed on behalf of millions of policyholders. The litigation was settled last month for $250 million dollars. 

Round One: The Original Claim

Gavel, law book, and paper with the text "personal injury"One of the things we try to do here at Slappey & Sadd is remember what it’s like to be in the client’s shoes. It’s a good way to remember that things that may seem routine or unremarkable are actually unknown territory and fairly intimidating for the people we represent. As a result, we thought we’d use today’s post to walk you through the process in the event that you’ve been seriously injured.  

Seek Medical Treatment

If you’ve been injured, the first and most important step is to seek medical treatment. In some cases, you have no choice – you need to go to the emergency room. In other cases, you felt fine right after the accident, but two days later you were in a considerable amount of pain. Or maybe you did receive immediate medical attention, but now you’re presenting with different symptoms.  Whatever the case, you should listen to your body – if something isn’t right, go get checked out as soon as possible.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, your first priority is your health. Before anything else, you need to get examined by a doctor and seek the necessary treatment. Unfortunately, everything that comes after that – namely, paying your medical bills – can get fairly complicated. In this post, we hope to shed some light on how insurance plays a role in compensating you for your injuries.

For purposes of this post, we’ll assume that your injuries are serious and will require long-term treatment, loss of income, and a significant amount of pain and suffering. Let’s also assume that you wind up having to pursue legal action in order to get fair compensation for your injuries.     

Health Insurance

It’s no secret that ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have exploded in popularity in recent years. Ridesharing offers a number of attractive options over traditional taxi service such as shorter wait times, a tech-based system, and newer, cleaner cars. However, no one ever thinks about what happens if they are injured in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle. Taxi companies are heavily regulated and have strict insurance requirements in order to protect customers in the event that something goes wrong. Ridesharing, given that it is relatively new, is still developing these standards.  

Insurance

In the event of an accident, the first question that arises is who’s insurance is going to pay the claim. Interestingly, ridesharing companies are actually subject to more onerous insurance requirements than taxi companies. A taxi driver is not required to carry more than the minimum amount of insurance required of private drivers: $25,000 for injury or death of a single victim and $50,000 for all victims in a single accident. The situation for rideshare services changed dramatically in 2015 when Georgia enacted House Bill 225. That law specifically mandated that rideshare services carry the following policy minimums:

If you’ve never been in a car accident, you may be surprised at how quickly the insurance companies spring into action. It’s important to understand, however, that the insurance companies involved have different roles to play and different motivations. Your insurance company is working on your behalf because you pay your premiums and they are under contract.  The other driver’s insurance company, on the other hand, represents the interests of the other driver. Even if the other driver has admitted that the accident was his fault, the insurance company then wants to make sure that it pays no more than it absolutely has to in paying your claim.

As a result, the other insurance company is going to want to settle the claim as quickly as possible. That may sound very appealing, but understand that a settlement is going to require you to waive any other claims, whether you are aware of them or not. For example, if you later discover that you have nerve damage as a result of the accident, you won’t be able to bring a claim against them if you’ve already entered a settlement agreement. For these reasons and others we’ll get into below, it’s very important to understand how to talk to the other driver’s insurance company.

First Things First……..

It is a fact of life that accidents happen every day – at our jobs, on the roadways, and even when we’re on vacation. Thankfully, most of these accidents result in only minor injuries that require minimal medical attention. While we know that some accidents can result in very serious injuries, we don’t like to think about the fact the worst accidents can tragically result in death. If the accident was due to someone else’s negligence, we refer to these as “wrongful death” claims. In addition to being very serious, these cases are more complicated than your typical accident case.  We hope to shed some light on this topic in this post.

Wrongful Death Defined

Under Georgia law, wrongful death cases are when someone’s “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” actions cause an accident that results in the victim’s death. After giving this definition consideration, here are some details of note:

You’ve heard the jingle where a certain insurance company claims to be “on your side.” Even if they don’t say it, every insurance company wants you to believe that they are on your side: they’ll handle your claims quickly, provide top-notch customer service, and will be there whenever you need them, day or night. That may all be true if you’re paying the premiums, but sadly this is not the case if you are injured in an accident and have to make a claim against someone else’s insurance. A recent case out of Columbus, Georgia demonstrates exactly how difficult insurance companies can be when settling claims.  

Jury Finds Geico Acted in Bad Faith

The case discussed in the article involves a man who was injured while riding his bicycle in 2012 when he was struck by a vehicle. The driver was clearly at fault, and the victim did not have health insurance. The victim’s attorney offered to settle the matter for $30,000, which was the limit of the policy. Regardless of the driver’s obvious fault, Geico, who insured the driver, refused to settle the case for more than $12,000, just slightly more than the victim’s hospital bills. When the victim sued, he wound up with a default judgment because neither Geico nor the driver responded to the suit. Geico then tried to get the default judgment set aside, and later objected to the driver’s subsequent bankruptcy proceedings. When the case made it to Federal court, the jury awarded the victim $2.7 million dollars in damages, finding that Geico had acted in bad faith in refusing to settle the claim.  

No one wants to sue another person, especially when your injuries were caused by an accident – it’s not as if the at-fault person intended to harm you. However, you should understand that who you are really suing is the other person’s insurance company. In exchange for their premiums, the insurance company agrees to compensate accident victims and pay for any property damage that insured person may cause. In addition, the insurance company agrees to provide a legal defense if they are sued.  

It is important to understand this relationship between the at-fault party and the insurer because the insurance company’s primary focus is to reduce the amount of the claims it has to pay. As a result, you should assume that they do not have your best interests at heart.  Instead, they are likely to employ one of the tactics we describe below.

Quick Settlement

People most are familiar with car accidents, they are fairly common. Accidents involving buses, planes, cabs, trains, Uber or other ride-sharing services are less common and are referred to as “common carrier” accidents. These cases present some unique challenges when compared to accidents involving only personal vehicles.  

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a common carrier vehicle, it is important to understand these differences. You should first seek medical treatment, but you should also seek experienced legal counsel to help you understand your rights and the potential implications of how to proceed.  

The Role of Insurance

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