With most persons today living from paycheck to paycheck and under large debt burdens, waiting on a personal injury claim to settle can be a major life disruption. Because of this, the first two things potential auto accident clients want to know are who is going to pay for the medical bills and how am I going to get around if my car is not drivable.
If you think an insurance company for an at fault driver will pay your medical expenses as you go, you are sorely mistaken. If you think they will pay for your lost time from work while you are recovering from an auto accident, you are also mistaken. The game they play is to force you, the injured party, into a situation where you settle your case for pennies on the dollar because you need money today.
An initial call to an insurance company by an unrepresented client is likely to be met by the response that the insurance company is investigating the insurance claim. After they have finished their investigation, they will then be able to get to the matter of compensating you.
During the investigation, it is not uncommon for the insurance company to claim that they cannot get in touch with their insured driver to get a statement about how the accident happened. This same insurance company does not seem to have any trouble getting in touch with their insured when it comes time to collect their monthly or quarterly insurance payment.
Then, once the insurance company has talked to their insured, they will often state that they need to see a police report before they can decide who they believe to be at fault. It can take anywhere from seven to ten business days for a police report to be available and sometimes longer if it is turned back to the reporting officer for corrections.
People often seem surprised that an insurance company would delay paying a valid insurance claim for no apparent valid reason. Could it be that the other party’s insurance company is delaying payment to make the potential claimant’s claim worth less money? Are they attempting to discourage the potential claimant from pursuing a claim at all? Of course they could, and do. Another party’s insurance company is not there to hand out money to aggrieved parties no matter how much they owe them. Their interest is their bottom line which is at odds with the interests of the claimant.
Eventually, if things go smoothly, the insurance company may actually admit that their insured driver is at fault for the car accident.
You are excited! You ask about a rental car and payment of hospital bills and future medical expenses as you have been without transportation for several days, collection notices are coming in the mail, and you’re in much pain and unable to pay for any medical treatment out of pocket.
The insurance company response will tell you to ahead and rent a car and you will be reimbursed $25 a day. You think to yourself, “I don’t have the funds to rent a car right now, and what kind of car can be had for $25 a day?”
With regards to future medical bills, the insurance company states that they will reimburse you when the case settles. In other words, pay for thousands of dollars of medical bills out of pocket now and we will see about paying them in the future.
You did not cause this accident, and now it looks like the insurance company can get away without paying for your property damage, past medical bills, or future medical bills. How in the world are you, living paycheck to paycheck, going to pay these expenses and wait for reimbursement at some undefined time in the future?
You don’t think this is fair, and you are right. These are common tactics by the insurance company meant to discourage collection of claims.
This tactic is especially used with a major catastrophic injury with broken bones and the need for surgery and where there is a large insurance policy. The insurance company will not settle the case without a lawsuit because they want to extend the time they make the injured party financially suffer, making it more likely that the injured party will settle for less than what is fair. Also, the insurance company would prefer to keep the settlement money working in their bank account for another two years as a lawsuit slowly rolls on.
Commercial insurance companies are notorious for this, especially where their insured has a big deductible requiring them to pay a large amount of money before the insurance company has to pay.
Injured parties are often unaware of the lengths insurance companies will go to in order to avoid paying what they owe. While they accrue medical and personal bills waiting for the insurance company to pay them, companies are happy to delay as long as possible. The pressure to receive some kind of financial relief may cause claimants to settle for much less than they are owed and do more harm than good.
Don’t wait until your bills have piled up to seek help. Experienced personal injury attorneys have seen it all before. They are familiar with insurance company tactics designed to starve out claimants and can assist in getting you the money you are owed.