You have been injured and you need to be paid for lost wages, damaged property, pain, loss of enjoyment of life and other harms. The first step is filing an insurance claim. When you file a claim you are entering a danger zone known as the “Adversarial System” of law. Don’t go in alone. Make no mistake, the name means just what it sounds like. Insurance companies are your adversaries and you are theirs. They have the money you need and they won’t give it up without a fight. Beware of their tactics.
Call Chicopee and Northampton Atty. Robert W. Shute Now any time of day or evening, 413-592-0999 or 413-437-7788.
Insurance Company Scheme #1: “Recorded Statements”
As soon as insurance companies are notified that you say one of their customers injured you they assign claim adjusters to investigate your claim. They investigate how the incident happened and they investigate the extent of your injuries. Insurance adjusters who are assigned to investigate your claim act very quickly at the start, hoping they can talk to you before you call your lawyer. They are hoping to set you up so they can later deny your claim completely or pay you very little.
Avoiding their traps is one of the main reasons that as soon as you have received your emergency medical care your next call should be to Attorney Robert W. Shute.
One of the tactics claim investigators use is to tell you that “We need to get a recorded statement” from you. You have no obligation to let them record you and it is almost never in your interest to let them because they are trained to ask questions in a way that even the most honest answers can be used against you. When they tell you they “need” a recorded statement they can’t outright lie and tell you that you have to let them record you, so they don’t say whether you have to comply or not. They just hope that you will think their sternness when they say they “need” a recorded statement means that you have to comply. Unfortunately, their tactic often works because most people are too polite or afraid to say no. Don’t fall for it.
Clever questions and innocent comments can sabotage the most honest people with legitimate claims. For example, an investigator calls you a few days after a car crash and asks how you are feeling. If you were seriously injured and just out of the hospital you might answer “I’m Okay” meaning you are in excruciating pain but feeling lucky just to be alive. You can be sure, however, that they will interpret “Okay” differently, as if you meant you were back to normal. Then, later on during settlement negotiations you will hear something like “A few days after the crash you, yourself told us that you were Okay so you must not have been hurt very badly.”
Another tactic insurance investigators use is obtaining incomplete information on purpose and later using it to “prove” that you are faking some of your injuries. For example, they will ask you what kinds of injuries you have. You may tell them you have a broken wrist and then they ask if you have any other injury. You tell them you have fractured ribs. Then they say something like: “Thank you, now let’s talk about how the accident happened.” You may have sustained additional serious injuries such as a concussion or a ruptured disc in your spine but they didn’t give you the opportunity to mention those. You assume they have the information they need and you don’t want to interrupt them so the recorded statement doesn’t mention anything about your concussion or ruptured disc. Again, you can be sure that later on during settlement negotiations you will hear something like “You never mentioned the concussion or ruptured disc in your recorded statement a few days after your claimed injury, so how do we know you didn’t get those injuries somewhere else?”
A close “cousin” of the recorded statement is the non-recorded statement. The risk with non-recorded statements is that your statements can be misconstrued or you can be misquoted completely with no way to prove it. It becomes your word against the insurance examiner’s word and you know which side the insurance company will take. For example, you are driving someone else’s car and you are not a listed operator on their insurance. You get into a crash, and the question of what insurance coverage is available can depend upon whether you are a “customary” user of that car. There have been cases where the non-owner driver says she has driven the car only a total of three times, ever, but the insurance investigator’s notes say that the non-owner driver is a “customary” user because she said she drove the car three times a month and, therefore, there is no insurance coverage.
Atty. Robert Shute understands the confusion and frustration you are going through and understands how to avoid insurance company traps. Call Now, day or evening, for your Free Consultation. Your consultation will be with Atty. Shute, personally. 413-592-0999 or 413-437-7788
Insurance Company Scheme #2: The Examination Under Oath
Having Atty. Shute at your side at your Examination Under Oath will ease your mind and level the playing field for you. Call now, any time of day or evening. There is no cost or obligation for your personal consultation with Atty. Robert Shute. 413-592-0999 or 413-437-7788.
The Examination Under Oath, also known as an “EUO” is another close cousin of the Recorded Statement and the Non-Recorded Statement. Again, you are in the midst of your treatment and you get a notice from an insurance company, usually your own insurance company, to attend an Examination Under Oath. This notice is more ominous: you must attend the EUO or insurance coverage will be denied. You must bring your medical records. You will be sworn under oath by a certified court reporter. You will be questioned about your injuries, how they occurred, your medical treatment and, most likely, your medical history. The questioning will be conducted by the insurance company lawyer at his or her office. If you refuse to answer any of their questions, insurance coverage may be denied. This is the legal version of entering the “lion’s den.” Walking in alone, unprepared and not knowing what to expect is a recipe for disaster.
Insurance Company Scheme #3: The Independent MEDICAL Examination
You have been injured. Perhaps you’ve been to the emergency room and now you’re in the middle of getting medical treatment with your physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon, neurologist or other appropriate medical specialist. Next thing you know you get a letter in the mail from an insurance company telling you that you must attend an “Independent Medical Examination,” also know as an IME. They tell you that if you do not attend your claim will be denied because of “non-cooperation.” To be clear, there is nothing “independent” about these examinations. They are performed by doctors carefully selected by insurance companies. They often are doctors who have retired from treating patients but who can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year performing so-called “independent exams.” These examinations are not for treatment purposes or for your benefit in any way. The goal of the insurance companies is to find doctors who will say that your injuries are minimal or non-existent so that the insurance company can then stop paying for any more medical treatment. The doctors know the insurance company’s goal and the doctors want to get hired to perform more examinations in the future, so as you can imagine, most of the “independent” medical reports sabotage the injured person and their injury claim.
Know what to expect when you get a notice to attend an Independent Medical Examination. Atty. Robert Shute is available to speak to you now, during or after normal business hours. 413-592-0999 or 413-437-7788.
Insurance Company Scheme #4: Withholding Insurance Coverage Information
When you get injured there may be more than one source of insurance coverage to pay you. For example, many people do not realize that when they buy car insurance in Massachusetts the insurance policy actually is divided into twelve separate parts. Some of those parts are compulsory, meaning that Massachusetts law requires them for all vehicles. One of the compulsory parts is Bodily Injury to Others which pays someone else if you injure them. Examples of Optional insurance include Medical Payments and Bodily Injury Caused by an Underinsured Auto. When you file your injury claim against the insurance company for the driver who injured you, you may not know or you may have forgotten that you purchased Medical Payment coverage to pay your own medical bills. If you don’t ask about it your insurance company may “forget” to mention it.
Another example of this problem is with “Underinsured” motorist coverage since many car owners might not know whether they have it. This is an Optional part of your own auto insurance that pays you for your injuries if you are injured by someone who does not have enough insurance to fully compensate you. Again, if you do not know to ask about it, you might never hear about it. If you happen to be reading this before you get injured, it is advisable that you talk to a local insurance agent and ask for their recommendations as to each of the twelve Parts of the Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Policy.
If you have been injured and you settle your case on your own you may never find out, or you may find out to late, that there was more insurance available to pay you. Chicopee and Northampton Atty. Robert W. Shute knows the Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Policy. Don’t risk getting shortchanged. Call Now, any time of day or evening to talk to Atty. Shute about your injury. 413-592-0999 or 413-437-7788
Insurance Company Scheme #5: Quick Settlement Offers
There are many important factors that determine the monetary value of your injury case. Two of the factors are: the seriousness of you injury; and, the duration of your injury. For example, if your back gets injured, your doctor may suggest that you try physical therapy for six weeks and if that doesn’t help the doctor will send you for an MRI to better diagnose the problem. The insurance company may call you around week three of your physical therapy and offer you money to settle your case. The problem is that three weeks into your therapy you have no idea how soon you will be healed of if an MRI might later show a serious injury that may never heal. You can be sure that the insurance company offer will be a very low offer. They may think that since you are out of work you might be desperate for money and will take whatever they offer. If you settle your injury claim early and without the advice of a personal injury attorney you risk being shortchanged.
Atty. Robert W. Shute has strategized successfully with many clients as to when to make a “settlement demand,” the amount of the settlement demand, and the evidence needed to support the settlement demand.
Put Atty. Shute’s experience to work for you. Call Atty. Robert W. Shute, 24/7, including weekends, at 413-592-0999 or 413-437-7788.
Insurance Company Scheme #6: Deny and Delay
“Deny and delay” is a tactic used by insurance companies to convince you to drop your case or settle it for very little money. This tactic often has nothing to do with the merits of your case; it is simply a method for insurance companies to wear you down and frustrate you to the point that you just give up or settle you case for a small fraction of what they should pay you. This tactic may seem contradictory to Scheme # 5, Quick Settlement Offers, but it is just the next in a series of roadblocks. If you don’t accept their low Quick Settlement Offer, they switch tactics to Deny and Delay.
Atty. Robert Shute has seen and dealt with these tactics for over 25 years. Don’t let them get away with these unfair claim settlement practices. Call now, days, evenings or weekends for your free injury consultation. 413-592-0999 or 413-437-7788
Insurance Company Scheme #7: Insisting on “Releases” You Don’t Understand
When you agree to a settlement amount with an insurance company, you logically would think the battle is over- but it’s not. The insurance company then will insist that you sign a contract called a “Release.” A Release is a contract which basically should say that in return for the insurance company’s paying you the agreed-upon settlement amount, you understand that you cannot come back to them later for more money. Insurance companies each write their own releases that can range from one to seven or more pages. These releases contain terms like “hold harmless” and “inclusive of medical bills over $2000.” and other confusing legalese that can expose you to future financial responsibility.
In addition to negotiating the value of injury claims, Atty. Shute has years of experience reviewing insurance company Releases and negotiating Release modifications that protect his clients. Make sure you have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side from beginning to end. Call Chicopee and Northampton Atty. Robert W. Shute now: days, evenings or weekends at 413-592-0999 or 413-437-7788.
Injury cases are resolved with the insurance company for the person or business that injured you. Attorney Shute will gather the medical records and other documents that support your claim and will resolve your case through one of four main methods: Negotiated Settlement, Mediation, Arbitration or Court Trial.
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