I regularly get calls from people that are injured in a crash. The basic scenario is that the person is injured in the crash by a bad driver. The bad driver's insurance company calls the injured person and gets a recorded statement. The bad driver's insurance company then convinces the injured person to sign documents to permit the bad driver's insurance company to obtain the injured person's medical records. Then the bad driver's insurance company makes a low-ball offer and tells the injured person that is the best they can do. Usually, that is when the injured person gets suspicious and reaches out to a personal injury lawyer such as myself.
Some people take the offer and later regret it and then reach out to a personal injury lawyer. People can save themselves a lot of headaches, anxiety, and stress if they simply call a personal injury lawyer beforehand. However, some people don't want to deal with a lawyer. If that is the case the three tips below may assist you in trying to settle the case with the insurance company:
1) You Do Not Have to Give a Recorded Statement to the Bad Driver's Insurance Company: Many insurance companies hire pleasant sounding people to call you to get you to commit to a recorded statement. There are numerous reasons insurance companies do this, but one of the main reasons is they are sizing you up and trying to figure out how to get their insured off the hook with paying as little as possible. For example, insurers know that soft tissue damages may take a couple of days before the pain really intensifies. If they get a recorded statement the day of the crash or morning after, the injured person may say they are not really hurt. The insurance company will rely on that later when deciding what to offer the injured person. Click Here for more information. What do you do then? Simple, don't give a recorded statement. If you want to resolve your case you can use the Oregon Crash Report as the factual basis to inform the insurance company what occurred. You can forward the insurance the relevant crash-related medical records and bills as evidence of your crash-related injuries. That should give the insurance company sufficient information to make an offer.
2) You do Not Have to Sign a Medical Release Allowing the Bad Driver's Insurer Access to Your Medical Records: Insurance companies mine for dirt in medical records. They are looking for pre-existing injuries to the same body part, something that may cause the injured person embarrassment or other medical complications that they can rely on to justify making a low-ball offer. Insurance companies do this by having people sign medical releases and general releases and asking for a list of medical providers. Then they send out these releases to all of your medical records and scour them so they can justify their low-ball offer. What do you do? You can control the information the insurance company receives. You can get your crash-related medical bills and records from your medical providers (doctors, chiropractors, licensed massage therapist, etc.) or through other sources. Then you can forward them to the bad driver's insurance company.
3) The Insurance Company Can Make a Lousy Offer, Your Remedy Is to Sue the Bad Driver: I regularly get calls from people that are frustrated with dealing with the bad driver's insurer. The bad driver's insurer has deployed all sorts of tactics to inject as much anxiety and frustration into the settlement process. The bad driver's insurer often will switch adjusters, claim to have not received information, and claimed to not have received communications. These tactics are usually deployed once the negotiations begin and the insurer realizes they can't get the injured person to take their terrible low-ball offer. The insurer may also make outlandish claims or get grumpy and mean on the phone and refuse to engage in true settlement negotiations. What do you do? You sue the bad driver. You have that right. A lawsuit is a powerful tool, that is why lawyers can typically receive better pre-filing offers. Insurers know that the lawyer should have the knowledge and skill to file a lawsuit if negotiations break down. Many lay-people do not have the knowledge and skills to do that, so they don't have any leverage in negotiations.
Hopefully, these tips will help people that have been injured in a crash on Oregon's roads. Please remember it is advised to speak with an Oregon personal injury lawyer immediately after a crash to ensure your rights and remedies are protected. Ross Law PDX and Jeremiah Ross are happy to provide a free personal injury case evaluation. Please call Ross Law at 503.224.1658. Do NOT SIMPLY rely on this post in an effort to maximize the value of your case, there are many nuances, traps, and pitfalls that cannot be addressed in a blog post. Please remember the statute of limitations may preclude you from filing a personal injury lawsuit. Also, your rights and obligations are different when dealing with your own insurer, especially on a PIP claim. This post is not intended to be legal advice and is considered Attorney Advertising.