Insurance companies play a critical role after one has suffered personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident (such as a car or motorcycle accident), slip and fall accident, or dog attack. The coverage provided by the insurance policies will determine how your medical bills will be paid and whether there is any “bodily injury” insurance coverage. In other words, compensation for the accident may cover your medical expenses (past, present, and future), lost earnings and income (and loss of earning capacity), pain and suffering, and other expenses in addition to covering the damage to your vehicle. If you or a loved one were seriously injured in an accident, the compensation you receive as “damages” for your injuries may your quality of life. A substantial or meaningful settlement may determine whether you are able to obtain the medical care required, and make you free of financial stress and worry.[Note: If the insurance claim does not settle out of court, you may need to go to court and have a jury award you the compensation you deserve.]
Experience Handling Personal Injury Claims
Pensacola Florida attorney Nick A. Ortiz has helped dozens of people injured in motor vehicle accidents (which include auto/car accidents, motorcycle accidents, large truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents) obtain just compensation – in the form of a fair settlement or jury verdict – for their injuries following an accident. We have also represented victims who were injured in slip-and-fall accidents, trip-and-fall accidents, falling objects, dog-bite attacks, and others who were injured due to the negligence of another.
We have negotiated maximum settlements for injured clients against virtually every major insurance company. We handle claims against all major insurance companies including, but not limited to:
- 21st Century Insurance
- AIG Insurance
- Allied Insurance
- Allstate Insurance
- Chartis Insurance
- Direct General Insurance
- Esurance Insurance
- Florida Farm Bureau Insurance
- GEICO Insurance / Government Employees Insurance Company
- Hartford Insurance
- Liberty Mutual Insurance
- Lincoln General Insurance
- Nationwide Insurance
- Progressive Insurance
- State Farm Insurance
We also handle claims against other insurance companies who do not issue as many car insurance policies in Florida but still have a presence in the state, including:
- AAA Interinsurance Exchange of the Automobile Club
- Allied Insurance / Depositors Insurance Company
- Assurance America Insurance
- Bristol West Insurance
- Explorer Insurance
- Farmers Insurance
- First Acceptance
- Infinity Auto Insurance Company
- Kingsway Amigo Insurance
- Mercury Insurance
- Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company
- MGA Insurance Company
- Ocean Harbor Casualty Insurance
- Reliant General Insurance
- Safeco Insurance
- Security National Insurance Company
- Seminole Casualty Insurance
- Titan Insurance
- Travelers Insurance
- Windhaven Insurance
The Insurance Claim Process
After an accident, the insurance claims process can seem simple enough … at first.
The claims representative representing the insurance company is trained to be friendly and accommodating. They act like they are on your side. However, you must always remember that the representative has only one goal in mind – to pay as little on the claim as possible in order to protect the insurance company’s pocketbook, or “bottom line”.
Don’t just take my word for it. In 2007, CNN conducted an investigation into insurance company claims practices and wrote an article entitled Insurance companies fight paying billions in claims. One of the claims they evaluated was a car accident involving a woman named Roxanne Martinez. Ms. Martinez’s car was hit in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her medical bills and lost wages added up to $25,000. Allstate offered a measly $15,000 to settle. If she accepted this settlement offer, Ms. Martinez would have still owed $10,000 in medical bills and would not have received anything to compensate her for her “pain and suffering”. After its investigation, CNN concluded:
“Martinez’s case represents what 10 of the top 12 auto insurance companies are doing to save money. And if you are in a minor impact crash and get hurt, former insurance industry insiders say, insurance companies will most likely try doing the same thing to you: delay handling your claim, deny you were hurt, and defend their decision in drawn-out court battles. It’s the three Ds: delay, deny, and defend.
That, in a nutshell, is the strategy adopted by several major auto insurance companies over the past ten years, a lot of lawyers, former insurance company insiders, and others tell CNN.
Although the insurance adjuster may quickly offer you a settlement, you may actually be entitled to two times, three times, or even more than that initial settlement offer. You should never accept any settlement before you know the full extent of your injuries and how they will affect you.”
According to the above CNN article, Roxanne Martinez didn’t accept Allstate’s “low ball” settlement offer. She sued and a jury awarded her over 10 times the settlement offer – $167,000 dollars. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the verdict took three years.
CNN interviewed former claims adjusters for its report. One such interviewee was Shannon Kmatz, was a former claims adjuster for Allstate. She told CNN that she would offer as little as $50 dollars to settle some cases: “Poor people would take it, she said, fearing that if they didn’t, they’d get nothing at all.”
The Recorded Statement
After an accident, the insurance company representing the at-fault driver will likely call you and ask you to give a recorded statement over the phone. The request may seem harmless. The claims representative may say they “just need to know what happened” and that they “just need to get a few details.” They will tell you that they need the information to get your medical bills paid. Do not be mistaken. Insurance adjusters are specifically trained to ask questions that are designed to reduce the amount of money the insurance company needs to pay you for your injuries.
Obviously, once you give a recorded statement, you cannot change what you said. The adjuster has a lot more experience in the claims handling process and has the upper hand on you. Plus, you will be caught off guard. The insurance adjuster will take advantage of your lack of preparation and need for help, and will ask you dozens of detailed questions about the accident, your injuries, and your medical history to try and find an area of weakness. You may find that some of the questions are inappropriate or totally irrelevant to your claim. Just a few examples of questions that may be asked in a recorded statement following a car accident include:
- Where did the accident occur?
- How did the accident occur?
- Was your vehicle moving at the time of impact?
- If so, how fast were you going?
- What was the speed limit in the area where the accident occurred?
- How do you know how fast the other car was travelling?
- Who do you think was at-fault in causing the accident?
- What did our insured driver do that caused the accident?
- Do you think our insured driver is completely at fault in causing the accident, or do you think anyone else is partially responsible for causing the accident?
- If you could allocate percentage of fault, how much fault would you place on our insured driver (example, 50%, 60%, etc.)?
- How could our insured driver have avoided the accident?
- What could you or your driver have done to avoid the accident?
- What were the weather conditions at the time of the accident?
- Did you hear any tires squealing or braking?
- If so, what is the location and length of the skid marks?
- What happened to your vehicle after the impact?
- Were you involved in any motor vehicle accidents before this accident?
- Have you ever been party to a lawsuit before this accident?
- Did you ever suffer any injuries in an accident before this accident?
- Have you been in any other accidents since this accident?
- Were there any witnesses?
- What happened to you at the time of the impact?
- Did any part or parts of your body hit any part of the inside of your vehicle?
- Did you pass out or lose consciousness after the accident?
- What did you feel when you were struck?
- How did you feel immediately after the accident?
- Did you need an ambulance?
- When did you first seek medical treatment after the accident?
- What was the doctor’s diagnosis of your injuries?
- What kind of follow-up treatment did the doctor prescribe?
- What can you no longer do today that you could do before the accident?
- Have you had to change your daily activities since the accident? How so?
- Did you have any medical problems before this accident?
- What doctors were you seeing before this accident?
- Was anyone else injured?
- Did you miss time from work following the accident?
- What were your lost wages?
- Will you continue to miss work or have difficulty performing work activity?
- What is your rate of pay / annual salary?
- What is your condition today?
- Do you think you will require additional treatment?
There are many pitfalls in the above questions that could destroy your accident claim from the very beginning. In some instances, you may not need to give any statement at all. Before you give a recorded statement, also called an “examination under oath”, to the insurance company, always speak with an attorney first. Most attorneys, including Mr. Ortiz, offer free case evaluations and a free initial consultation.
Know Your Legal Rights
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover the maximum, full, and fair compensation you are entitled to recover for your injuries or for the wrongful death of a loved one. Nick A. Ortiz is an experienced accident and injury attorney with the Ortiz Law Firm in Pensacola, Florida. Mr. Ortiz offers a free consultation to evaluate your claim and to determine your legal rights, options, and responsibilities.
In your free case evaluation, Mr. Ortiz will give you his honest and professional opinion of the value of your claim, will answer any questions you have about your case and will educate you about your best course of action going forward. If you do not need an attorney in your claim, he will tell you why and give you advice on how to best handle the claim on your own.
About the Ortiz Law Firm
The Ortiz Law Firm is a well-reviewed and rated personal injury law firm in Pensacola, Florida. Since he was first licensed as an attorney in 2001, Mr. Ortiz has recovered millions of dollars in lawsuits and settlements for victims of serious injury and wrongful death. The Ortiz Law Firm handles all types of serious injury claims, including injury claims for traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, amputation injuries, and broken bones. We only represent plaintiffs (the victim injured due to the fault of another) and do not represent corporations or insurance companies.