I have wracked my brain thinking about my blog post today. So I hope you will really listen.
First, I’d like to clarify that attorneys are ethically bound to be honest. And I take that obligation very seriously. Besides, I cannot stand sales pitches, so instinctively have only ever given any of my clients or potential clients truthful, well-intended advice. In other words, you really should believe me when I tell you:
After An Accident, Call An Orlando Auto Accident Attorney Before Your Insurance Company
Any other Orlando personal injury attorney would give you this same advice. However, websites like this one, from insurance company insiders, try to counter with their message that your first and only important job after any accident should be contacting them. How lovely. They say they will treat and pay you fairly. After all, you are in good hands with Allstate, and State Farm is like a good neighbor, right?
Ugly Truth: Insurance Companies Want To Keep Their Money At Your Expense
But industry experts and former auto insurance company employees have revealed the ugly truth about the high profit-making strategies embraced by all insurance companies, which is something that plaintiffs’ auto accident lawyers have known for a long, long time. Insurance companies are businesses who must answer to their shareholders regarding their profits. Put simply, they profit more when they pay you less.
This Is Not The Good Old Days
In the days of old, so I’ve been told, insurance companies believed that they would get more customers if they paid claims promptly and fairly. In other words, they believed good customer service would drive more people back to them, and therefore raise their profits. I can tell you from first-hand experience their mindset has definitely changed.
Underpaying Auto Accident Claims = Billions in Profit
Fast forward to somewhere around the mid-1990’s, and, according to this Huffington Post article, a consulting giant named McKinsey & Company convinced Allstate and other major insurance companies that they had a better way. In short, they encouraged and ultimately convinced leading insurance companies to rely more heavily on computers, which, unlike human adjusters using their own judgment and general human compassion, would produce “purposefully low offers to claimants.” If customers or non-customers entitled to coverage did not want to accept these ridiculous, low ball offers, they were intentionally subjected to varying delay and frustration tactics.
“From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves”
One former Allstate agent said that the goal was to make the claims process so expensive and time-consuming that even lawyers would stop taking cases. These policies only came to light during a lawsuit and ultimately led another trial lawyer to write a book called “From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves: The Dark Side of Insurance.” And Allstate has undeniably reaped impressive profit rewards, to the tune of $4.6 billion in 2007, which doubled their earnings from the 90s, as a result of driving down payment on claims to an average of 30% below actual market costs. Further, Allstate’s incredible rise in profits led most of the industry to adopt the same approach.
You Cannot Even Trust Your Own Company On A Simple Vehicle Damage Claim
To give you just one of many examples, last week, when speaking with a claims adjuster from a major insurance company, he offered to pay my auto accident client literally half of the private party blue book value on a vehicle claim, and referenced his “computer model” as his justification for being completely unreasonable. That same adjuster had also regularly and extensively delayed returning my client’s and my own phone calls, all the while providing all sorts of excuses for his unconscionable (yet money-saving) delay. And he had previously dealt with my client far less fairly (when my client was acting alone, without my help) . Before I became involved, he offered my client less than 1/3 of the final settlement amount that I ultimately negotiated on the property damage claim. This was the tactic used by my client’s OWN insurance company. So, make no mistake, insurance companies routinely utilize these extremely unfair tactics to deny fair payment on legitimate claims. The fact that you are their customer means less than nothing to these money-grubbing large corporations. The sad reality is that you are a number for them to resolve for as little cash outlay as possible. Nothing more.
So What Should You Do After An Accident?
The obvious moral of the story is that if you have been involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, or pedestrian accident that involves any type of insurance coverage dispute, please contact an Orlando personal injury attorney before contacting any insurance company. Most Orlando auto accident attorneys (including myself) provide free consultations (although, I should also warn you to make sure you speak with an attorney, not a paralegal, case manager, or other non-lawyer intake person at any law firm.) I do everything within my power to either take new client calls immediately or return calls at my earliest possible opportunity. And you can call me anytime.
First Things First: Your Doctor, Then Your Orlando Accident Lawyer
First, after an accident, your absolute unquestionably top priority should be getting medical evaluation and treatment, even if your injuries do not seem serious, because sometimes the worst injuries from an accident are not apparent until much later. More importantly, from a legal standpoint, the value of your claim will generally be higher if you received medical treatment early. Additionally, if you can, you should report the accident to the police, collect insurance, vehicle identification, and contact information from the other driver, get the names of any and all witnesses (important), and take photos of any of your injuries, all vehicles, and the accident scene. Finally, save and do not wash or repair your clothing and any other evidence that shows the damage to you or your vehicle.
Dealing With Your Own Insurance Company
Next, some insurance policies require you to report any accident to your own insurance carrier within a fairly short time period (exact time period depends on policy, but 30 days is common). If you do not, then you could definitely lose any otherwise available coverage. You must also cooperate with your own insurance company. But you should speak with an Orlando accident attorney before you talk even to your own insurance company, if at all possible. Your insurance adjuster may tell you that your claim is not serious enough to involve an attorney. Please do not believe them without getting a second opinion from an actual attorney.
Dealing With The Bad Guy’s Insurance Company
Additionally, most of the time, you have no obligation to speak with the other drivers’ insurance company. The ONLY goal of a recorded statement is to get you to say things that can later be used to deny or greatly reduce your claim. I have NEVER seen an insurance company use a recorded statement in court for any other purpose. Ever. Not ever.
How Can You Ensure Your Rights Are Fully Protected?
If you hire an attorney, any insurance companies must deal directly with your attorney. So, once you hire an attorney, you can allow your attorney to guide whether and when you give a recorded statement, and to whom. The answer actually depends on the policy and the nature of the claims against you and is not always the same.
So, be smart, and call me. I’d be honored to serve as your Orlando accident attorney. I always strive to make sure my clients are paid the absolute maximum potential value on their accident claims. Although my office is located in Winter Garden (just West of Orlando), I accept injury and accident cases throughout Florida, including Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and all points above and below, and I give all of my clients the same level of highly personalized service designed to maximize the value of their accident claims.