Secret one: Strict legal deadlines can prevent a victim from going to court. The insurance companies rely on these terms, the so-called limitation periods. Failure to act in a timely manner can completely hinder your right to compensation for damages suffered as a result of the negligent acts of another. In California, negligence claims against private entities must be filed in court within 2 years of discovery of the injury.
A special claim must be filed against government agencies within 180 days or the victim cannot even file a lawsuit. There are many agencies, such as hospitals and recreational facilities that may not appear to be associated with the government. However, if they are owned or operated by a government agency, a victim has only 180 days from the date of the injury to file a claim.
Secret two: Immediately after contacting the insurance company about an accident, they will appoint an experienced claims adjuster to investigate the accident and gather evidence that will give the insurance company a reason to dispute your claim and minimize your monetary loss.
Secret three: If you were injured by an uninsured motorist, your own insurance company will be your adversary, even though your policy requires you to work 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 predict the settlement value of claims. According to the program’s designer, Computer Science Corporation, it is used by more than 50 percent of the country’s claims adjusters and by more than 300 insurance companies. Of the 20 US property and casualty insurers, 13 use Colossus. Colossus is kept secret by the insurance companies that use it; the expert won’t tell you if the company uses the software.
The insurance industry insists it’s a useful tool. Personal injury lawyers know that the software benefits the insurance companies. First, the values one receives are by definition a function of the data input. One never knows what data the loss adjuster has entered. Also, the program does not take into account subjective elements of the case that are impossible to quantify, such as the interference with normal life activities that results from an injury. During the trial, these indications of pain and suffering are proved by the testimonies of the injured parties and witnesses. A computer program cannot quantify emotional stress or the loss of joy in life? A Colossus valuation is an inaccurate valuation because it attempts to reduce a victim’s injury to a dollar value based on certain facts only, which do not reflect the totality of the victim’s condition or accident events.
In a lawsuit, a jury determines the value of a claim, and juries listen to and consider many of the factors that Colossus ignores. Colossus can in no way judge the subjective elements that can increase the jury prize. Each victim is just a compilation of songs in the Colossus program. Hardly unlike thousands of other claimants.
Experienced personal injury attorneys know how Colossus works and how to get the best settlements when working against insurance companies that use the program. The key is to make sure the adjusters 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 experts should assume that your lawyer will take the case to court if necessary. Serious preparation for the process is the best way to ensure top settlements.
Secret Five: Insurance companies have huge legal advantages over the average person: great wealth, thousands of trained loss adjusters, sharp lawyers and experts, and over 20 legal defenses they use to minimize or deny victim compensation. Insurance companies are profit-driven companies. The goal is to make money. Insurance companies do everything they can to keep damage claims to a minimum.
Secret Six: The insurance companies don’t want you to hire a lawyer. The reason is simple. Except in minor cases, victims are getting more and more compensation when they are assisted by legal counsel. Auto insurance giant Allstate’s own documents show that accident victims who engaged attorneys received 2 to 3 times more than victims who were not represented.