Confronting Myths About Car Crashes, Insurance Companies, and Lawyers

Last night I was sitting at a bar waiting to meet a friend when I overheard a conversation.  The two guys next to me were discussing a car crash their friend had recently been involved in.  The guys discussed how the crash occurred and the subsequent events. 

The tall guy was animated in speaking about the crash.  He described Airbags deploying and it sounded as if their friend had been broadsided by another vehicle at an intersection.  The tall guy noted that his friend did not feel immediate pain, but that was normal because he was "all amped from the crash."  The friend went to the hospital the next day just to get checked out.  The tall guy said his friend was diagnosed with "whiplash" and may have to go through some "physical therapy or something."  The tall guy also went on to say the friend was worried about payment of medical bills.  The two guys continued to talk about expensive healthcare and then the subject switched to insurance.  

The tall guy also said the insurance lawyer called his friend and said they would offer $1,000.00 right away and that is all his friend would get.  The insurance "lawyer" said his friend couldn't have been hurt if he didn't go to the doctor right away,   Then the conversation  switched to greedy lawyers and that no lawyer is going to take his friends case because his friend doesn't want tens of thousands of dollars.  His friend basically just wants some money for medical bills and a little extra.  His friend can't pay a lawyer, so he is going to just deal with the insurance company "lawyer."  

The entire time I was biting my tongue because of all the misconceptions and wrong assumptions about his friend's case.   I wanted to interject, but I didn't because it was clear these guys were not fans of lawyers and probably would be a little annoyed with some pencil pusher interrupting their conversation.   After listening to these two young gentlemen it became apparent the insurance companies' propaganda machine has been doing a great job on conditioning these guys.    Insurance companies have confused people about their rights and obligations after a crash.  This blog article will address some of the confusion created by insurance companies:

1) The Friend Didn't Feel Immediate Pain After Crash:   The guy was right when he said his friend was "amped" so he didn't feel any pain.  I am not a medical professional, but my understanding is many soft tissue injuries  do not result in immediate pain.  Many times the injury will manifest a day or two later.  

2) The Friend Is Worried About Crash related Medical Bills:  Personal Injury Protection benefits are available to pay the friend's medical bills.  This means the friend has $15,000.00 of no fault insurance to pay all crash related medical bills incurred up to a year after the crash.   For more information read my blog post addressing PIP issues. 

3)  The Insurance Company's Lawyer Called His Friend:  It is rare in a case where a person has soft tissue injuries to have a lawyer contact the injured person.  Most likely the insurance company person was an insurance adjuster.  These adjusters sometimes like to think they are lawyers, but in reality they have little, if any, formal legal education.  Many adjusters have little formal education.  It is important to remember the insurance adjuster's sole mission is to ensure the insurance company pays out the minimal amount to any injured person that is making a claim.  Some are honorable and may make a fair offer, but many do not.  It is also important to remember there is no requirement that an injured person speaks to an insurance company adjuster or lawyer. For more information on insurance company phone calls read my blog article.  

4)  A thousand Dollars is The Most You Can Get for Soft Tissue Injuries:  Again, that is not true.  The insurance adjuster is trying to convince the friend that his case does not have any value in an attempt to hoodwink the friend into settling for pennies on the dollar.   The case may have substantial value if there are permanent soft tissue injuries or there are other injuries that have yet to be diagnosed.  Insurance Companies try to settle cases quickly in an attempt to prevent people from making large damage claims or speaking with a lawyer. If you have settled the case and realize you were hoodwinked you should call me at 503.224.1658.  There may be a way to set aside the settlement and pursue your claim for money damages.

5)  The Friend Couldn't Have Been Hurt Because He Didn't Go To The Doctor Right Away: Insurance companies often use this line, but I don't think people actually believe that.   They call this a "gap in treatment" or "delayed treatment." Most Oregonians are tough hard working folks that would rather be working or trying to get better on their own rather than going to the doctor over some pain in their neck.  However, once they realize the pain is worse than anticipated or is not going away, then they seek medical attention.  This is perfectly reasonable even if it is a few days or weeks after the crash.

6)  No Lawyer Is Going to Take the Case because It is Not Worth Tens of Thousands of Dollars:  There are numerous Oregon Personal Injury lawyers that are eager to take small cases valued at $10,000.00 or less.  I represent many people on these smaller soft tissue cases.  These cases are common and there is a way for the lawyer to make money on the case and the injured person to receive full compensation for their injury without the lawyer taking a cut of the settlement or award. If you have more questions about small cases then you should read my blog article on the issue.  If you think you have a case but are concerned it is too small call me at 503.224.1658.  It will not cost you anything as I provide free personal injury consultations.

7) His friend Can't Afford A Lawyer:  I take almost all personal injury cases on a contingent fee. What this means is I don't get paid an attorney fee unless we prevail.  My personal injury clients do not pay my hourly rate.   For more information on how attorneys get paid see my blog post on the issue.   

Hopefully this post will address many of the misconceptions that people have about personal injury cases.   People shoudl be informed when they are injured in a car crash.  They do not need to rely on the insurance companies to take care of the crash and make a "fair" offer.  Injured people should seek an attorney to assist them with their claim.  

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car crash please call me at 503.224.1658.  Ross Law is happy to provide free personal injury consultations.  I also work on a contingency fee in personal injury matters.   Legal Stuff:  This post is not to be considered legal advice and does not create an attorney client privilege.   This post, website, and blog may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.