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It’s not personal. It’s strictly business. You’ve seen the insurance company ads on TV. It seems like a laugh a minute—from the Geiko gecko to the magically appearing State Farm Agent to Flo from Progressive. Insurance company ads make you smile—and portray insurance company personnel as nice, friendly people you can trust.
Many insurance companies handle claims quickly and professionally. But when a serious accident exposes the insurance company to large potential damages, the relationship can turn adversarial. As Michael Corleone says to his brother in The Godfather, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” Insurance companies drop the smile and go about the business of protecting their company’s assets.
Insurance adjusters are assigned to determine facts and how much a case is worth. It is important to remember that adjusters work for the insurance company, not for you. The adjuster’s job is to settle claims as cheaply as possible.
An adjuster’s initial offer will often be a fraction of the fair settlement value of the case. An unrepresented accident victim may be inclined to accept the offer. If the offer to the unrepresented claimant is rejected, it may be sweetened, but not enough to make it fair.
According to a CNN investigation, Allstate and State Farm insurance companies developed a strategy in the mid-1990s to increase profits. The strategy consisted of “three D’s”—delay, deny, and defend. To this day, it is commonplace for insurance companies to delay the case as long as possible, deny liability in court, and then defend the denial in a trial. This strategy has proven especially effective when the collision results in minor damage to the vehicles and injuries to muscles and connective tissue (tendons and ligaments). It is premised on the fallacy that there is a necessary correlation between damage to a motor vehicle and injury to a person and that injuries to muscles and connective tissue (pejoratively referred to as “soft tissue injuries”), insofar as they do not appear on diagnostic images such as x-rays, are, by their very nature, minor.
Although television ads depict insurance companies as good guys and even miracle workers, the truth is much more stark. Accident victims must take care to make sure they receive fair compensation for their injuries and losses and if it is not, do what is necessary to obtain a fair result.
The playing field is not level between a claims adjuster and a self-represented person. Hiring an experienced trial lawyer is essential for getting the result that you deserve.
If you have been injured in an accident, don’t rely exclusively on your insurance company for guidance. Learn more by calling a New Haven personal injury lawyer at Jacobs & Jacobs at (203) 777-2300 for a free consultation about how to proceed with your claim.