If you've been in a car or truck crash, you will experience a lot of pain. But who will pay for your medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and other expenses? Unfortunately, the insurance company for the driver who caused the wreck has clever ways to pay you as little money as possible. Here are a few of them.
Swoop and settle
The next day you may get a call or text from an insurance representative who says he or she wants to pay you money immediately. But usually the amount offered is only between $500 and $1,000. They might also make a vague promise to pay some of your medical bills - if their company decides they are reasonably priced.
Here is a typical story
of how this game is played: an 18-year-old woman in Frisco named Rayza was crashed into, had to give a recorded statement, and settled her claim for $1,000. But her pain increased and she had to seek medical treatment. The company refused to pay her any other money and personal injury lawyers could unfortunately not help her since she had signed a release.
The biggest problem is that you don't know how much your expenses are. You will be shocked when you see how much some providers charge car wreck victims and their health insurance companies. So if the ambulance, hospital, emergency room, radiology, chiropractors, physical therapists, pharmacies and other medical providers charge a total of $10,000, accepting a company's offer of maybe
$1,000 to 3,000 is not a good idea.
Our office gets calls from injured drivers like this several times a year. A man contacted us several weeks ago. It is almost impossible to rescind the release. We did this once when we proved our client could not fully understand English.
Warning: even an oral agreement can be enforced
The Dallas Court of Appeals held that a verbal offer to pay the injured driver $500 and some medical bills was a binding contract - even though the driver immediately changed his mind, hired a personal injury attorney, and returned the check.
In the case of Gilbert v. Fitz,
the GEICO adjuster representing Fitz admitted that Mr. Gilbert's medical bills would be $8,000 to treat his broken ribs and wrist and his other injuries. They ended up being $15,000. Gilbert sued Fitz for his damages. However, not only did he lose his case, he was ordered to pay $10,000 in attorney's fees.
New law would end these oral releases after a car wreck
State Representative Julie Johnson from Dallas introduced HB 2374
which allows a driver to revoke a verbal settlement agreement. All seven members of the House Insurance committee voted in favor of it and it awaits the vote of the House of Representatives.
Of course insurance companies will continue to swoop and settle, even if this law is passed. By asking the injured driver to sign a form acknowledging that they understand what is happening, this will keep people from making rush decisions. There should be a short cooling off period, as there is with the sales at conventions or door-to-door homes.
Texas Watch, a consumer organization, has urged Texans to contact their representatives to support HB 2374.
The other insurance company's representative will also demand a recorded statement. He won't tell you but his detailed questions are designed to deny or minimize (1) his driver's responsibility for causing the collision and (2) your bodily injuries, medical expenses, and other damages if you decide to pursue legal action. You are not required to give a statement and it is almost always a bad idea. Mr. Berenson rarely if ever agrees to one unless it is absolutely necessary. If he does, he first reviews the expected questions, police report, photographs and other evidence with his clients so they are prepared. He also makes sure the statement will not be used later in court.
Other tricks to expect
There are too many to list in one post. Take a look at this article which lists more ways
companies take money from you.
A good car accident lawyer can help you
The insurance representative will usually tell you that don't need to hire a car accident attorney since they are taking care of you. Don't believe it. The last thing he wants you to do is to hire a personal injury lawyer who can guide you what can be a confusing medical/legal process.
We have been written blog posts
for years about these insurance tactics guaranteed to result in small settlements or jury verdicts.
Texas Watch advises drivers not to speak to the at-fault driver's insurance company before consulting with a car accident lawyer.
The first consultation with Berenson Injury Law
is free. We can explain how we can help get you the results you want after your wreck. And there is no fee due until the case is won in court or settled.
Mr. Berenson has successfully represented injured Texans for over 40 years. He only handles vehicle crash cases (not medical malpractice, dangerous drugs and products, etc.).
Still not sure if you want to talk to us and let us answer your questions at no charge? See what some of Mr. Berenson's clients
have written about how satisfied they were with their results.
For more on this topic:
Recorded statements: why you need an attorney
Need help paying your medical bills?
Podcast about Rayza's claim