In this video, I’m going to talk about five mistakes that can kill your personal injury case. I’m going to give some settlements and show you how these mistakes to believe what the adjuster tells you, specifically if the adjuster tells you the case is worth a certain amount, to believe him.
The adjuster’s duty is to his insured. Oftentimes you’re making a claim against someone else who caused your accident. The insurance company’s insured is that person and that is not you. The adjuster or insurance company’s duty is to that client, to act in good faith and protect that client if they can settle the case for that client without incurring the client additional exposure.
Do not listen to what the insurance adjuster tells you about the value of your case. They’re often wrong. If you’re making a claim against your own insurance company, such as Uninsured Motorist Insurance, keep in mind that, although they have a duty to act in good faith to you, their employee, the adjuster, is looking out for what’s best for his company, as well.
An example of the first mistake about that you should not listen to what the insurance adjuster tells you your case is worth is, this is a motorcycle here. A motorcycle rider was riding straight, a truck made a left-hand turn in front of him, they collided.
The motorcyclist had a tibial plateau fracture and had a rod inserted right there, which is the top of the lower knee. He ended up having surgery, also, on his finger. But the bottom line is the insurance adjuster initially said he had reserved the case at $100,000, meaning he felt the case was worth, essentially, no more than $100,000.
But had my client, the motorcyclist, had listened to the insurance adjuster and believed that his case was worth $100,000, he would’ve settled for that amount and not the $445,000 that we ultimately settled for.
The second mistake that you can make that would totally kill the value of your case is if you make a low settlement demand. In the example I just gave, the case settled for $445,000. My opening demand was one million dollars, which happened to be the insurance policy limits of the careless driver.
However, let’s say I only demanded $400,000. That would’ve set the cap on the amount that the insurance company was gonna pay me and likely, they try to pay you less than your settlement demand, in most cases.
So the same is true if I would’ve demanded 300,000. I would have set the cap at 300,000. They would likely have paid me less than that. So the fact that I made a high demand gave me room to negotiate the case down and we ultimately settled for $445,000.
So do not make too low of a demand. The third mistake that you can do to blow your case is if an insurance company tells you that their client or their insured did nothing wrong and you just say I don’t wanna pursue my case anymore.
It can be a very big mistake and I’m gonna give you an example of that in one second. This is the picture of a gentleman who is on the floor. He was shopping at a supermarket. He walked and he turned a corner and he claimed that he slipped on a substance and he fell down.
This is an actual photo that was taken immediately following his fall. He claimed that the fall aggravated or worsened his Achilles tendon tear, a preexisting tear that he had. The Achilles tendon in the back of the lower leg.
It’s a tendon that runs down, essentially, from the back of your knee to your ankle. And essentially, the supermarket, their third-party adjuster who handled the claim, said we deny liability, we did nothing wrong.
Now, if he would’ve made the mistake of just saying whoa, the supermarket’s probably right. Maybe they did do nothing wrong. He would’ve missed out on the ultimate $300,000 settlement that we ultimately achieved for him.
So mistake number three is just agreeing that the supermarket or wherever you’re injured or whichever insurance company you’re dealing with, mistake number three is just assuming that they are correct if they deny liability.
They are often wrong. The fourth mistake that can kill the value of your case is to not look for all the available insurance coverage that’s available. I’m gonna give you an example in a second about a pedestrian from another country who was in Miami, Florida.
He rented a car. While he was a pedestrian another car struck him and he fractured his lower leg bone, which is the tibia. He had a rod inserted into the tibia. The other car that hit him actually was a rental car, as well, had $100,000 of liability insurance.
That insurance company paid us the 100,000. When I asked my client if he had Uninsured Motorist Insurance, he said I didn’t purchase any. Well, we wrote to the rental car company. He actually did purchase 100,000 of Uninsured Motorist Insurance coverage, which is very rare, but they ultimately paid us the 100,000.
So mistake number four for him would have been to not look for this additional insurance coverage. Likewise, I had a case where a woman fractured her wrist and she had a plate put in her wrist and the at-fault driver had $100,000 of insurance.
USAA responded to our letter, requesting their insurance information, saying they have 100,000 and it was only when I pressed USAA they told me that the employer, her employer, the other driver’s employer, the other driver caused the accident, had one million dollar policy with another insurance company.
Had I not pressed them and looked for additional insurance coverage, we would have missed out on $100,000. The entire case settled for $200,000. Prior to getting money from the employer’s insurance company, we had 100,000 from USAA, so we were able to discover another $100,000.
Now that’s just one example of discovering extra insurance coverage but there can be loads of places where that extra insurance coverage may be hiding. The fifth mistake that can kill your personal injury case is to not get an expert if you need one.
For certain types of cases, you need an expert to help prove your case. And without an expert, you can’t even get your case to trial, meaning the judge will dismiss your case before it gets to trial. Some cases where you need an expert are, for example, if you slip and fall on stairs.
You’re gonna need an expert to say what was wrong with the stairs. Were the risers too long, too high? Were there improper handrails? Was the wrong paint used, et cetera? Well, there was a claim where we, along with another law firm, represented a gentleman who ultimately had leg surgery and it settled for $195,000.
But fortunately, we got an expert and we got him out to the accident scene very quickly to inspect the stairs. Had we not have hired an expert, there’s a chance the condo could have repainted the stairs or fixed the handrails or, essentially, done other stuff to repair the stairs and we would’ve had a difficult, if not impossible, time proving our case.
Now experts cost money. If you hire an attorney, they normally advance the cost and then they’re repaid at the end of their claim. But understand, there are certain cases you need an expert.
In New York State if you are involved in an automobile accident you are entitled to personal injury protection (PIP) regardless of who may be at fault due to the state’s No-Fault law. In instances when another individual’s negligence was the cause of the accident you can make a bodily injury claim through the at-fault vehicle’s insurance to be compensated for your liability claim. There are times, however, when one may be struck by an individual with insufficient coverage. Read on to see the options available to you if ever faced with this scenario.
UNINSURED COVERAGE (UM)
All drivers in New York State are required to purchase liability insurance that meet the following standards:
- Bodily Injury minimum: Minimum $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident
- Property Damage minimum: Minimum $10,000 (does not apply to your own vehicle)
- Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury minimum: Minimum $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident (cannot exceed your BI liability limits)
- Basic Personal Injury Protection minimum: Minimum $50,000
Despite these requirements, there are about 5.3% of drivers in New York operate their vehicles without insurance. Though this places NY as 3rd lowest state (behind Massachusetts and Maine) with uninsured motorists, this still means that there are thousands of drivers out there with inadequate coverage.
The UM coverage helps you if you do not have access to an adverse vehicle’s liability insurance due to an accident caused by:
- Unidentified hit and run driver
- Uninsured out-of-state motor vehicle
- Uninsured NY motor vehicle
- Stolen motor vehicle
- Motor vehicle operated without the consent of the owner
- Unregistered motor vehicle
The Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC) while also providing protection in accidents involving uninsured motorists, only steps in as the last resort.
UNDERINSURED COVERAGE (UIM)
Unlike uninsured motorist BI coverage, underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is not required by New York State. It provides coverage if the at-fault driver in an accident has insufficient liability coverage to fully compensate you.
In both UM and UIM cases, a claim has to be filed against your own insurance to process bodily injury claims. UIM claims come into effect after the at-fault driver’s liability has been exhausted. If you find yourself seriously injured by an underinsured motorist, you may have a UIM claim if the injuries you sustain surpass the limits of the negligent driver’s policy.
SEEK AN ATTORNEY EXPERIENCED WITH UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED CLAIMS
Although most insurance companies will acknowledge and honor the UM/UIM provisions of your policy, there are some who may try to reject your UM/UIM claim or offer you very little compensation. It is thus very important to reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
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