Articles Tagged with insurance companies

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Blackwell Law Firm - Alabama Personal Injury LawyersYou are injured from an accident. You are pursuing a claim for damages or compensation. Suddenly, the insurance carrier wants you to see its doctor for an examination. If your case involves a car accident or work comp claim, you may face this request. Sometimes, the insurance carrier even calls its request an “independent medical exam.” Yet, these exams are neither independent nor fair.

Before I talk about the biased insurance company doctor, let me say that these biased doctors are small in number. Lawyers who frequently prepare and try cases will tell you they see the same few bad ones repeatedly. Doctors are like any other profession. Almost all of them are dedicated to serving their patients. The same rule applies to lawyers, accountants, and any other professional. But, a few bad apples exist.

With lawyers, the bad apples are those settlement mill lawyers making promises while refusing to do the work really needed to help clients. When it comes to automobile accident, workers’ compensation or disability claims, we see a few doctors who seemingly make their living issuing misleading reports so claims can be denied. In both the legal and medical professions, the bad ones want to make money pushing paper instead of getting to the heart of their clients’ stories and losses. One sure sign of biased doctors is that many of them have little or no medical practice outside insurance company evaluations. Good doctors actually treat patients. Good doctors don’t make their living generating claims reports.

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Many lawyers advertise for personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. One group of Huntsville DUI lawyers recently put their names on billboards and began claiming specialties as varied as personal injury and elder law. Anyone can advertise. Any attorney can say they handle personal injury cases. While many lawyers advertise, few have real expertise in court.

It’s different with defense attorneys. Insurance companies hire good attorneys with trial skills. Insurance company lawyers regularly handle cases through trial and appeal. Does your injury attorney have similar skills? If you hire a billboard lawyer, you may get a lawyer who is quickly in over his head. And, you will suffer as a result.

A local advertising lawyer (who has a billboard) recently called me and started asking questions about distracted driving. A person hurt in a car accident had hired him. He did not know how to handle the case. While answering his questions, I kept thinking about the person hurt in the wreck. Was this person getting an attorney with experience handling these serious claims? No. This advertising lawyer marketed himself as a personal injury attorney but did not know how to handle a basic claim. And, this advertising lawyer had no intention of fighting for his client at trial if needed. He just wanted information needed to speak intelligently with the insurance adjuster.

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You were a passenger in a car. The driver of that car caused an accident. You suffered personal injury. Now, the insurance company has denied your claim. Why? The insurance company says you cannot make a claim because of Alabama’s Guest Passenger Statute.

Many people are not familiar with this Alabama law. It is an old law. Most other states repealed similar laws long ago. Many people learn of this law only when the insurance company denies their car accident injury claim. What should you do? First, do not accept the insurance company denial without consulting an attorney. It’s important you consult an attorney who specializes in personal injury claims. And, it’s important that attorney has actual trial experience. Many of the lawyers advertising on billboards and television for personal injury claims only want cases they can easily settle.

While the Guest Passenger Statute does bar many claims, it is not absolute. A skilled attorney will understand this law and whether it truly applies to your claim.

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A recent article I read tells the story of a bad Illinois workers’ compensation attorney. This bad attorney tried to make a bad settlement for his client. And, the bad attorney then tried to bully his client into accepting it. Although the article discusses an attorney in another state, it is not a unique story. It happens in Alabama as well. Too many attorneys fail to prepare their cases or go to trial when needed.

The story reminds me of a work comp case several years ago. I received a call from a man in nearby Athens who had suffered a very bad back injury. He had required spinal surgery for his injury and was now a chronic pain patient. He had not been able to work since the surgery. However, he already had a lawyer. His problem with that lawyer? His lawyer was trying to force him into accepting a settlement for an amount less than the defendant’s own expert concluded. This was not just a low offer. It was below what he would have received at trial if the court believed everything the employer argued. It was an unrealistically low offer. And, it should have been declined immediately.

When I heard the full story, I was shocked. Why was a lawyer trying to convince this clearly injured person to accept such a small amount? The injured worker had a good case. Why was a lawyer, any lawyer, trying to convince this clearly injured person to accept an offer below any reasonable expectation at trial? As I investigated the case, I learned the truth — that work comp lawyer was unwilling to fight for his clients in court. That lawyer had a track record of not preparing his cases. And, the insurance company offered a lower amount because it knew that lawyer’s track record. Make no mistake — insurance companies know which lawyers fight for their clients and which lawyers do not. It’s not just workers’ compensation cases. It also applies to car accidents. Insurance companies know the attorneys who accept far less than the full case value.

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In the article “Getting Back on the Bike:  My Insurance-Driven Recovery,” a brain injury patient tells his recovery story. The patient, David, was riding his bicycle when a car struck him. In the years following his accident, David has healed from his physical injuries. Yet, he continues to suffer problems from his brain injury.

David’s story involves a life forever changed following a traumatic brain injury. It’s a story other head injury patients will understand.

Traumatic brain injuries affect many families. Many families have a loved one who suffers head injury problems from an automobile accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident or workplace accident. David’s story of healing reveals several common truths for brain injury patients. What are these common truths? They are:

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We’ve all seen the advertisements. We’ve all heard the catchy jingles. The ads promise lots of money, quick settlements, huge recoveries or fast checks. Yet, the results often leave clients without justice and without full recovery. While promises are made to get the cases, most of these lawyers fail to help their clients to the fullest.

I’ve written about personal injury and workers’ compensation settlement mills previously. Good attorneys rarely make promises of huge settlements or quick recoveries. That’s because good attorneys know the best results come with hard work, preparation and a constant study of trial practices. And, unlike most television attorneys, good lawyers have actually seen the inside of a courtroom. If you are seeking legal counsel after suffering an injury, you should always ask potential attorneys whether they have actually tried (and will try) a case. The insurance companies know which lawyers will go to trial. It can make a big difference for your recovery.

Settlement mills are interested in case volumes. They are not interested in individual justice. They are certainly not interested in fighting to get you maximum compensation. Over the years, I’ve received many phone calls from individuals who hired a settlement mill attorney and were left without justice. What are some of the ways volume settlement mill attorneys fail their injured clients?

  • They do not advise their clients concerning proper medical treatment.
  • They do not warn their clients against signing insurance company releases or giving interviews to insurance adjusters. Sometimes, these settlement mill attorneys even agree to insurance company requests just to get a quick (even if too low) settlement.
  • They do not defend clients against false denials of claims by insurance companies.
  • They do not research or investigate difficult injuries suffered by clients.
  • They do not aggressively represent clients.
  • They do not file cases or take cases to trial when settlement offers are unfair.
  • They do not advise or help clients with often complex issues of health insurance subrogation or reimbursement after case settlement. Good attorneys can often save clients tremendous amounts of money by helping with these issues. Yet, settlement mill attorneys often pay the full claims from the settlement proceeds without advocating for their clients.

Justice is always personal. Settlement mills that treat people as parts on an assembly line leave us all short of justice. If you have suffered a significant injury, you and your family deserve better. Continue reading →