Today, we’re talking about six ways insurance companies trick accident victims. I’m attorney David Dismuke, Florida Bar board-certified civil trial lawyer and Founder of Dismuke Law –1.800.ASK.DAVE.
1 – They tell you if you got the ticket you lose
The first way that insurance companies trick accident victims is by telling people: “If you got the ticket, then the deal is done. You are at fault, there’s nothing else to discuss.” That’s not true. In civil cases here in Florida, the ticket is not admissible. Whoever got the ticket is not going to be a part of your case for damages when you go to trial. Don’t let the insurance company trick you into thinking that, because someone got the ticket, it’s over. Even better yet, Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. You could be mostly at fault, but if the other side is 10% at fault, then you are still entitled to 10% of your damages. So, don’t let the insurance company trick you into thinking if you got the ticket, the deal is done. That’s not the way it works in Florida.
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2 – If you didn’t get treatment within 14 days you can’t make a claim
The second way insurance companies trick accident victims here in Florida is that they make you think if you didn’t get treatment within 14 days of the car crash, you can’t make a claim. This is confusing to people because they hear on the radio that you have to treat within 14 days to be entitled to personal injury protection. That’s true. You have to treat to get the PIP benefits. But, the PIP benefits are what we refer to as no-fault benefits, and it pays up to $10,000 of your medical bills. That doesn’t affect your claim against the person that causes your accident. You can start treating after 14 days and still have a legal right to bring a claim against the person that caused your crash. But insurance companies know that when they send the letter saying “You didn’t treat in 14 days, we’re not going to give you any benefits”, that it scares a lot of people off, people who have been putting off treatment but the symptoms haven’t gone away. If you’re still hurting, even if it’s longer than 14 days, you still might have a right to get a recovery against the people that caused your accident. Now, there has to be coverage, and it can get complicated, but don’t think you can’t recover just because the 14 days ran.
3 – If there’s not a lot of property damages, you wouldn’t have been hurt
The third way insurance companies trick accident victims in Florida is they make you think if there’s not a lot of property damage, you couldn’t have been hurt. That’s not true. I have deposed doctors over and over again here in Florida, who have agreed with me that there is no direct correlation between the amount of visible property damage and the amount of injuries in a car crash. People can be in huge car crashes and walk away relatively unscathed. By the same token, you can be in what appears to be a minor accident and have lots of problems. The human body is dynamic, car crashes are dynamic, and it depends on a lot of different factors. Don’t let the insurance company trick you into thinking if there’s not a lot of physical property damage; you can’t get a great settlement out of your case.
4 – Once PIP is exhausted you can’t get any more money for treatment
The fourth way insurance companies trick accident victims is they make you think once your personal injury protection is exhausted, that you can’t get any more recovery out of your case. That’s not true. Once your PIP is exhausted, you still have every right to pursue the person who caused your accident. So, don’t think that just because you’ve exhausted your PIP, you have to stop treating. You have every right to continue treating if you need it, and you still have every right to get whatever your medical needs are compensated from the person who caused your traffic crash.
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5 – All your symptoms are due to degenerative findings
The fifth way insurance companies trick accident victims is they blame all of their symptoms on degenerative findings. Insurance companies like to suggest that if you have degenerative findings, it must all be because of degenerative findings, and not because of your traffic crash. That’s not true. I’ve taken defendant’s doctor’s depositions, and they usually will agree with you that if you have degenerative findings before a traffic crash, you’re more likely to suffer pain and discomfort following a traffic crash. And if you have those degenerative findings, you’re probably going to need more treatment than someone who didn’t already have degenerative findings. The truth of the matter is, your degenerative findings are going to require you to need more treatment than someone who doesn’t have degenerative findings, and all of that treatment is because of the traffic crash. Don’t let them fool you.
6 – If you have pain it’s due to prior injuries
The sixth way insurance companies trick accident victims is they like to make them think that if you have problems, it must be because you had prior problems. Prior accidents, prior trip- and-falls, prior workers compensation cases, anything except for this accident. Don’t let them fool you into thinking because you had prior injuries, you can’t make a claim. That’s silly. A lot of times, people fall for this, and they do something even worse: they try to hide the fact that they’ve had prior problems. Own the fact that you’ve had prior problems. Be honest with your doctors about your prior problems, so your doctors can sort through what’s new versus what’s old.
One thing that’s most annoying about the insurance company playbook is that these are just arguments. Words are cheap. If they have medical evidence saying these things are true, you’ve got to think about the case differently. If they have accident reconstructionists saying there’s not enough force from the impact to cause your injury, you’ve got to think about the case differently. But, an adjuster sitting in an office arguing with you about this stuff is not evidence. The adjuster is not going to come to testify in your trial. Usually, you have superior evidence, by and through your treating healthcare providers. Your healthcare providers are writing records saying that your stuff is related, an adjuster is just throwing stones, 9 out of 10 times.
If you have questions about your car crash case, give us a buzz at1-800-ASK-DAVE. We’re here to help!