Handling Insurance Companies After Virginia Beach Car Accidents
We’ve heard all the reasons why people sometimes choose not to hire an auto accident lawyer. They didn’t want to make it a big deal. They thought they could handle their case on their own. They wanted to avoid paying an attorney fee from the case. These considerations fail to take into account insurance company dirty tricks.
We’ve also heard people say they didn’t hire a lawyer because it’s not about the money and that they’re “not that type of person.”
However, you decide to handle your injury claim, or whatever your motives, it boils down to being treated fairly. After reading the information below, you’ll have serious doubts about whether you’ll be treated (or paid) fairly by an insurance company without the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
We were recently contacted by a person hit by a car while walking to work. He was kind enough to allow us to use his personal experience with the insurance company to allow you to avoid falling for some common insurance tricks.
Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers’ Client Highlighted Insurance Company Dirty Tricks
After the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company immediately admitted fault, leaving our client with a false sense that he would be treated fairly. He attempted to handle the case on his own until he reached out to us after receiving these e-mails from the at-fault driver’s insurance company:
- Dirty Trick #1: The insurance company will offer to pay only your copays and disregard write-offs.
In Virginia, You are entitled to payment for all reasonable medical bills. This means you are entitled to payment for the actual charge made by the hospital or healthcare provider. In the above e-mail, the client had a $22,506 emergency room bill, but the insurance company is offering to pay only $3,702!
The insurance company should have to pay the entire $22,506 bill, and should not attempt to benefit from your own health insurance, which you or your employer pay hard earned money for every month. We are aware of at least one instance in which an insurance company made a lowball offer and had the nerve to ask the injured person to ask his own doctors to lower their bills so it could get off cheaper.
Insistence upon full payment of this single bill alone is 2.5 times larger than the entire settlement offer made by the insurance company. An experienced personal injury lawyer will insist upon full payment of the bill. Most insurance companies don’t even attempt this dirty trick on lawyers.
Don’t be fooled by the polite tone of e-mails like this. The insurance company’s goal is to pay you as little as possible. There’s more. After the Client asked for clarification, the at-fault driver’s insurance company sent another e-mail:
- Dirty Trick #2: The insurance company wants to be done with you, and can’t be bothered to worry about your future exposure and liabilities.
The insurance company is dangling a $9,000 settlement offer in front of the client by telling him that it is “coming to you,” which is technically true in that a $9,000 check will be mailed to him in exchange for a full release- i.e., the case is closed and the insurance company will never pay you more.
The $9,000 may, however, not entirely belong to the client. Some health insurance plans are entitled to be repaid out of personal injury settlements. The insurance company is careful to mention that the client’s health insurance company could request payment of $4,801.07 after-the-fact. If the health insurance is owed part of the settlement, then suddenly that $9,000 settlement is more than cut in half, which is apparently of no concern to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
The insurance company is careful to admit that it does not know if the client’s health insurance has a right to repayment from the settlement, but shamefully nudges him toward accepting the settlement by suggesting that “they would have notified you” by now since six months have passed since the accident happened.
This is simply not true, and the suggestion otherwise is simply dishonest. It is true that some health insurances are not entitled to reimbursement, and sometimes a health insurance plan that is entitled to repayment never seeks it. His health insurance plan, however, through scanning diagnostic codes in your records, or through questionnaires, may contact him long after the accident, and possibly well after the settlement money is spent, and insist upon immediate payment of $4,801.07. If he does not have the money in-hand, the health insurance plan can pursue him for violating the terms of the health insurance plan.
The safest and best practice is to have an experienced personal injury law firm proactively contact your health insurance company to determine if it has reimbursement or subrogation rights. If there are no reimbursement rights, then you will have peace of mind in knowing that you won’t get a big bill after-the-fact.
If your health insurance does have reimbursement rights, then it can be handled on the front end, and the amount owed possibly negotiated to allow you to pocket a larger portion of the settlement.
- Dirty Trick #3: The insurance company “admitting fault” or “accepting liability” does not mean you’ll be paid fairly
Even if the insurance company “admits fault” or “accepts liability” it does not mean you will be paid fairly. It simply means that for the purposes of settlement discussion, the insurance company is not disputing that its driver was at fault.
They will still attempt to negotiate as low of a settlement as you will allow. Also, they can change their mind at any time, and in many instances if the case ends up in court the lawyers for the insurance company will dispute fault.
- Dirty Trick #4: If you happen to be dealing with your own insurance company, it doesn’t mean you will be treated more fairly
Sometimes, coincidently, the at-fault driver happens to have the same insurance company as you. There are also occasions where an uninsured motorist injuries you, so you’ll have to negotiate with your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist coverage. Don’t be lulled into thinking you will be taken care of simply because you are a loyal customer of the company and always make your payments on time. Your own insurance company will fight you just as hard as anyone else to pay you as little as possible.
- Dirty Trick #5: Radio silence and delay as deadlines approach
In Virginia, the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit is typically two years from the date of the accident. Often someone injured in an accident thinks he has plenty of time to attempt to handle the case himself. He thinks if he gets lowballed, then he can always hire a lawyer later. He feels confident because the insurance adjuster seemed sympathetic and caring, and “accepted responsibility.”
It is not uncommon for our law firm to receive calls from people 20+ months after the accident panicked that they can’t get the insurance company to call them back. Or upset that they waited all this time just to have the insurance company request five years of pre-accident medical records, so it can argue that your problems are from a pre-existing condition.
If you’ve reached this late state without an attorney, the insurance company has all the leverage. Some lawyers are often hesitant to undertake an injury case very close to the deadline to file a lawsuit, and insurance companies know this. An insurance company can then offer you an unfair settlement. Without a lawyer involved, you are simply not viewed as a legitimate threat to file a lawsuit to insist upon fair payment.
At the end of the case, our client, who was kind enough to share his e-mails with you ended up better off, avoided additional aggravation, and slept easier knowing the case was handled properly. His only regret was not involving Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers sooner.
These are just a few examples of dirty tricks insurance companies use to avoid paying unrepresented people fairly. These techniques are how they continue to take advantage of people for profit. While every case is different, and not all cases necessarily require the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you.
Contacting an Attorney
The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers have decades of experience in dealing with the insurance companies. We know all about their dirty tricks and how to counter them. Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers has a main office in downtown Norfolk and client meeting locations in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Suffolk, Portsmouth and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.