The one thing insurance companies don’t want is for you to be educated about your rights. An educated claimant knows what he has to say and what he can keep private. He knows what forms he has to sign and what forms can be discarded. An educated claimant cannot be bullied by the insurance companies, but someone who doesn’t know his rights can be intimidated into acting too quickly or settling for too little.
A new client came to see me some time ago looking for help with his auto claim. He had hoped to negotiate a settlement directly with the insurance company and save some money on the attorney fee. The accident was clearly the other driver’s fault, and Mike was clearly hurt. In fact, he was still hurt when he came to see me, and he was actively receiving treatment.
The client told me the insurance company had made him a “one-time offer.” It told him that if he didn’t accept its offer, it was going to “close the claim.” He didn’t want the claim to be closed, but he was nowhere near finished with his treatment, and he knew that what was being offered was too low. I explained to him that “closing the claim” really didn’t mean anything. In Washington, a claimant has three years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit, and the insurance company can “re-open” the claim at any time.
Regardless, he was convinced that the insurance company would neither be honest with him about his rights, nor negotiate his claim in good faith without a lawyer backing him up. He retained my services, and I immediately notified the insurance company that I was representing him. To date, the claim remains open, and when he is finished with his treatment and he and I know the full extent of his injuries and how they impacted his life, we will explore a negotiated settlement with the insurance company. If we can’t settle, we’ll take them to court. It is that threat that will keep the insurance company honest throughout the process and insure that his rights are protected.
Don’t be bullied by an insurance company. When you know your rights, you can’t be intimidated. If you have any questions about your claims, call a qualified personal injury attorney. You’ll be glad you did.