As a Seattle personal injury lawyer representing people who are injured in car accidents in Seattle, there are many things I have picked up about insurance companies that they don’t want you to know. Here are a few:
You don’t need to take their offer right now: Insurance companies like to pressure people injured in car accidents to settle now. They will say things like you need to take this offer now or it is going away. This could not be further from the truth. They want to settle your case now and may appear desperate if they pressure you to settle before your injuries have healed. They want you to settle now so you don’t collect more medical bills that they will have to compensate you for. Get the treatment that you need now and ignore their phone calls after you tell them that you will wait until you are healed to start negotiating the settlement of your car accident injury case. However, you have three years to settle or file a lawsuit on your car accident injury case in Washington State or you lose the right to make a claim. This is a long time but not forever.
Insurance companies base their value on your case by the amount of your medical bills, diagnosis, lost wages, and the time it takes you to heal: This may sound controversial but two people injured in a car accident will not have the same case value if one person seeks treatment for their injuries and the other does not by toughing it out. The insurance company seeks proof that you are injured and this is proven by medical records, medical bills, and diagnosis by medical professionals. Going to the chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist is necessary when you are injured and your body and your doctor tells you to. If you don’t go, it will hurt your case and your body by not getting the treatment that you need. This is not milking it but it is foolish to tough it out without the treatment.
You will get more money in your pocket if you hire an attorney: Insurance companies will tell you that you will not get an increase in your offer by hiring an attorney to represent you for your car accident injury case. An attorney will often bring forward a much more sound and thorough description of your injuries and your case, making your case worth much more money. Additionally, a personal injury lawyer can find things you may have over looked like lost wages, vacation time used, sick leave used for your car accident injuries that you are entitled to compensation for. Moreover, your personal injury lawyer will often be able to negotiate down the amount owed back for medical bills paid by your medical insurance or personal injury protection plan.
Use your own insurance to repair your car and don’t accept the defendant insurance’s version of the case to accept 20% fault: Often times insurance companies will try to say that their insured is only 80% at fault because of some bogus reason that somewhat makes sense but doesn’t. This is their way of bullying and throwing their weight around at you. The best thing to do in these situations if you don’t have an attorney is to get your car repaired through your insurance so your insurance can argue the other insurance company is 100% at fault, through inter insurance company arbitration hearings if they are truly set on 80% liability designation. Not a lot of people know this and not a people like to use their own insurance to repair their car because they think it won’t go on their record if they use the other company, which is false. Insurance companies know of every car accident whether you use your insurance or theirs to repair your car. Get your car repaired with your insurance. It will save you the hassle of dealing with situations like this and they will even collect your deductible back for you.
Pre-existing injuries cannot be used against you in a car accident: Pre-existing injuries cannot be used against you in a car accident injury case where you were not actively treating them and they were not giving you pain. The insurance company loves to point out pre-existing injuries in medical records and prior treatment right before a car accident. However, they are not valid arguments unless you were actively treating right before the car accident and continued to treat at the same rate after the car accident. An old injury that flares up or is worsened by a car accident that didn’t require treatment before but does now is a new injury in the eyes of the court. Had it not been for the car accident, you would not have been in so much pain or had to seek the treatment you are seeking now. This is 100% compensable but you may need a lawyer to argue this for you.
I hope you have found these tips useful and enlightening. If you have been injured in a car accident, I would encourage you to hire a personal injury lawyer whether it be myself or someone else. If you know of someone who is going through this right now, please pass along my contact information and this article.