Secret One: Rigid legal timelines can prevent a victim from going to court. The insurance companies count on these time deadlines, known as statutes of limitations. The failure to act in a timely manner may be a complete barrier to your right to recover compensation for injuries suffered as a result of the negligent actions of another. In California negligence claims against private entities must be filed in court within 2 years of the date of the discovery of the injury.
A special claim must be filed against government entities within 180 days, or else the victim may be precluded from even filing a lawsuit.There are many entities, such as hospitals, and recreation facilities that may not appear to be associated with the government. However, if they are owned or operated by a government entity, a victim only has 180 days from the date of injury to file a claim.
Secret Two: Immediately after the insurance company is contacted about an accident, it will assign an experienced adjuster to investigate the accident and gather evidence that will provide the insurance company with grounds to dispute your claim and to minimize your money damages.
Secret Three: If you were injured by an uninsured motorist your own insurance company will be your opponent even though your policy requires you to cooperate with the insurance company.
Secret Four: Many auto insurance companies now use the Colossus computer program to evaluate the claims of accident victims. Colossus is software used by insurance companies to aid in predicting the settlement value of injury claims. According to the program’s designer, Computer Science Corporation, it is used by more than 50 percent of the nation’s claim adjusters and by more than 300 insurance companies. Out of the top 20 U.S. Property and Casualty Insurers, 13 are using Colossus. Colossus is kept secret by the insurance companies that use it; the adjuster will not tell you if the company uses the software.
The insurance industry maintains it is a useful tool. Personal injury attorneys know the software favors the insurance companies. First, the values one receives are by definition a function of the data input. One never knows what data the adjuster has input. Also, the program does not consider subjective elements of the case that are impossible to quantify such as the interference with normal life activities which result from an injury. At trial, these indications of pain and suffering are proven through the testimony of the injured parties and witnesses. A computer program cannot quantify emotional distress or the loss of enjoyment of life? A Colossus valuation is an inaccurate valuation because it attempts to reduce a victim’s injury to a dollar value based only on certain facts, which do not reflect the totality of the victim’s condition or the accident events.
In a trial, a jury determines the value of a claim, and juries listen to and consider many of the factors that Colossus ignores. Colossus has no way to evaluate any of the subjective elements that may increase the jury’s award. Each victim is merely a compilation of numbers in the Colossus program. Hardly different from thousands of other claimants.
Experienced personal injury attorneys know how Colossus works and how to obtain the best settlements when working against insurance companies that use the program. The key is to ensure the adjustors understand that you, the victim, are an individual, not a number and that your accident is unique, not one of thousands of identical events. The adjustors need to believe that your attorney will take the case to trial if necessary. Earnestly preparing for trial is the best way to ensure top settlements.
Secret Five: Insurance companies have enormous legal advantages over the average person: great wealth, thousands of trained adjusters, sharp lawyers and experts, and more than 20 legal defenses which they use to minimize or deny victim’s compensation. Insurance companies are profit-driven corporations. The goal is to make money. Insurance companies do everything they can to minimize claim payments.
Secret Six: The insurance companies do not want you to hire a lawyer. The reason is simple. Except for minor cases, victims are consistently awarded more compensation when they are represented by counsel. Auto insurance giant Allstate’s own documents show that accident victims who retained attorneys received 2 to 3 times more than victims that were not represented.