It is not a myth that insurance carriers look for any reason to deny or diminish the value of your claim—whether it be a policy exclusion, physical evidence, prior medical treatment (it may even be unrelated prior medical treatment!) or even the narrative of a Police Report. We have seen it all. To the untrained claimant, a denial seems like the end of the road. However, often times, it is not.
Unfortunately, most clients injured in an accident do not know how to file and litigate a lawsuit, and do not have the training, knowledge or skill to know what legal arguments to advance in order to shift an unfavorable liability determination. Insurance carriers are well aware of this fact and are hoping that after a denial, you give up. While I always believe hiring a personal injury attorney ASAP is critical to the success of a claim, if you have tried to navigate the claims process alone and receive a denial, at that point, more than ever, I definitely believe you need to hire an attorney. Understandably, by this time, many Law Firms may not accept your claim—the statements have already been given, the record has already been created and the attorney is now stuck to the “sins of the past”. It is not easy to flip a liability determination in general, and when you are brought on after a denial, you cannot take back or recreate what has already happened or been said in the claim. The adjuster may be tainted and when they “dig in”, it is hard to change their minds.
By way of example, I recently did an intake with a young lady who was in an accident 3-years prior. The insurance carrier completely denied her claim. She had already been represented by 2 prior law firms, the last one which eventually turned down her case (as I previously mentioned—it can be a lot of work to change a liability decision!!). It was a T-bone accident with crush damage so severe that both vehicles were unrecognizable. Our client suffered spinal disc injuries, had surgery, and also had permanent scarring from airbag deployment and the seatbelt. What was puzzling about this claim was that the Police Report noted an independent witness that stated that the other car (not our client) ran a red light. It seemed like, at worst, 50/50 liability should have been allocated, not a complete denial. We accepted the case, prepared to work hard for this sweet lady who deserved every bit of compensation. It would have been easy to turn her case down and focus on other, easier cases—however, the physical and medical evidence ignited a passion for justice and we knew it was wrong. After roundtabling the case with our staff, I recall Donald Smith, Esq., saying: “You can write it on the wall—we WILL get a settlement”. After speaking with the adjuster, who was initially jovial in reminding us that “you are the third Law Firm that has tried to change my mind”, the conversation ended very differently. After pointing out the overwhelming evidence supporting our position, and also informing the adjuster that we had already decided to put the case in suit, the adjuster asked us to send in our Demand package and she would reconsider her liability determination. She had never received a demand from either of the prior 2 Law Firms. This was a case that could have been lost, had we not agreed to fight. Although we are not certain how the cards will fall, we are certain that there will be a settlement.
The moral of the story is that personal injury litigation attorneys are equipped with the power of litigation, familiarity with legal arguments, the economics of litigation, and, depending on the reputation of the Firm and the attorneys, insurance carriers are well aware of which Firms litigate claims, and which Firms do not. It is, therefore, to every injured claimants benefit to have a reputable, experienced, well-respected Firm on board from the inception of the claim. However, if you are injured in an accident, and your claim is denied, please first speak with an experienced personal injury litigation attorney, prior to giving up. Research your Firm, do your due diligence and retain a personal injury litigation attorney that is prepared to fight for the compensation you deserve. Our motto in the Personal Injury Department at Smith, Gaskill & Shenkman, P.A., is “LEAVE NO MONEY ON THE TABLE”. This is more than a saying, it is our practice, our goal and our reputation, and our results speak for themselves.
If you have been injured in an accident, call us as soon as possible at (561) 622-2700 to confidentially discuss your personal injury claim.