It is no secret that personal injury attorneys are not loved by all. “Ambulance chasers” are often seen as slimy opportunists taking advantage of the system and preying on people in need. Yet you can’t go two blocks without seeing one of their offices or advertisements.
How do they stay in business? Why do these creeps flourish so? The answer is a simple one: because they are significantly less “creepy” than the insurance companies. While a minority of the cases that come into Haire Law’s Denton office are people who just got in an auto accident and immediately want representation, an overwhelming part of the personal injury negligence business is people who, not being litigious in nature, have attempted to deal fairly with the insurance company and have subsequently discovered that when it comes to insurance companies, there is no such thing as fair dealings.
It is easy to see why people involved in an auto accident assume that the insurance company will treat them in a fair manner. They pay their insurance company just like the other driver. Sometimes they even have the same insurance. As a “service-based” business, the expectation is that the claims adjuster will attempt to get a fair resolution, especially when fault is clear. Well, luckily for us, that myth is quickly dispelled.
The fact is, in almost every case the insurance company will try to victimize and take advantage of the other driver. Even when their insured is 100% at fault and the damages are clear, adjusters will often present a disgustingly low offer hoping that the person is desperate for money and will settle for a pittance. Just this week we had a young lady hit from behind waiting at a stoplight by someone on their cell phone. She was taken to the hospital and accrued over $20,000 in medical bills. Within a week the adjuster had an offer for her medical bills and injuries: Six Hundred Dollars! Not sixty thousand, not six thousand, but six HUNDRED dollars.
The insurance company hoped and prayed that this young girl would be financially desperate enough to settle for six thousand dollars and live her life with $20,000 in medical bills hanging over her head. The girl might have taken it, too, if her mother hadn’t of stepped in to stop her from making a big mistake.
While this is a somewhat extreme example, it is not as uncommon as you think. Client after client comes into our office here at Haire Law and tells us of settlement offers well below half of medical bills. Why do the insurance companies do this?
First, because it works. Many people in financially desperate situations will take the quick cash and leave the medical bills to go to collections. Most people don’t know what a fair settlement is and don’t want to be litigious.
Second, because that’s what the insurance company has turned the system into: a adversarial process of insurance company vs. attorneys, and the people who don’t hire an attorney are seen as easy marks, unfortunate dupes ignorant of how things work.
Finally, and most importantly, the insurance company makes a LOT of money off this behavior. Even if the person doesn’t take the deal, by low balling the offers, they keep their client’s money in the bank longer, making millions in interest off the aggregate. Their job is supposed to be to safe-guard their client’s premiums until they get in an accident, at which point they are to pay off any damages caused by their client’s negligence. The problem is, they make a majority of their money off of the interest from the safe-guarded premiums. Therefore, they have a vested interest in keeping as much of the money as long as they can in the bank regardless of what the fair or right decisions would be. Ask yourself one thing: if you are responsible for an accident, and your insurance company gets away with paying $600 on a $60,000 claim, do you see a reduction in your rates? Do you get any benefit from this? No, your rates will actually go up!
So how do you get rid of all these “slimy” personal injury attorneys. That’s easy! All the insurance companies have to do is deal fairly with people. They’d just have to stop trying to take advantage of people, and worry a little more about serving the people they represent and the general public they are designed to protect and worry a little less about the bottom line. Until then, we here at Haire Law will continue to protect and represent anyone unfortunate to be involved in an motor vehicle accident that wasn’t their fault, and we will continue to punish the insurance companies for their greed and hubris.