BACK TO BLOG December 22, 2016

Insurance Companies Use New Way to Screw Injury Victims – Recorded Calls

Don’t Be a Victim Twice. Don’t Settle Your Claim Over The Phone.

You have no doubt heard lawyer advertisements tell you not to give a recorded statement to insurance companies. And they are right. But insurance companies are notorious for finding new ways to victimize people injured in an car wreck. And Geico recently won an appeal in a case that will open the door to a whole new tactic – recorded settlements.

Attached to this link is the Court’s Opinion in Windell Gilbert v. Cherish Fitz.

How It Works

Let’s say that you are injured in a car wreck. You are rushed to the hospital and is released that same day. He or she is feeling pain for the days following the wreck. There are no broken bones, but the pain is severe. But, it is assumed that some time and rest will heal the injuries.

During this time is when the insurance company representative calls you about the claim. You may be medicated. You may be in pain. But, the adjuster will try to tell you that they just want to find out what happened. The adjuster will ask a bunch of questions about the wreck and then make the offer– they will pay all of the medical bills for you and pay an extra $500 immediately if you will sign a release of all claims.

This sounds innocent. There is an assumption that your physical condition will improve. And $500 is a lot of money and all of the medical bills are taken care of. So, many people will accept that offer. And when they do, the insurance company will record a conversation that memorializes the settlement. This is what they are asking you to do.

The Problem

The insurance company wants you to take the $500 because they know that will save the insurance company’s money. Why? Because they know something they are not telling you. They know that the settlement offer is based on an assumption that is many times false– the assumption that you will get better in a few days.

If a back injury causes you to miss time from work, you are entitled to recover your lost wages. But if you settle now, you cannot recover any of those lost wages. If the back injury is worse than expected (such as a herniated disc or nerve impingement), the medical bills may be covered but what about the pain? What about the change in lifestyle? If you cannot play golf anymore, or you cannot pick up their kids because of the pain, is that really worth $500? Or is that worth more? If you have agreed to settle your claim over the phone, the Courts say that this is a valid settlement agreement and you have no further rights.

The problem with the offer to pay for medical treatment by the insurance company also comes with a catch. By agreeing that the insurance company will cover any medical costs, the insurance company now gets to dictate what treatment it thinks is reasonable. Do people really trust an insurance company with their medical care? What if the doctor says you need a surgery and the insurance company refuses to pay for a surgery? Since you have signed away your rights, you do not have much of an option.

The Solution

The first option is to tell the insurance company to pound sand. Tell them that you would prefer to speak with an attorney first.

The second option is to not settle your insurance claim over the phone. Just do not do it. Demand that the insurance company put into writing exactly what they are offering to you. Then have someone else read the offer. Call a lawyer and ask if you are getting a good deal or not.

Lastly, take your time. Take the time to learn the full extent of your injuries. I have a rule I use in my own personal life before I make a major decision — take 24 hours to think about it, pray about it, and get opinions about it. If after 24 hours I feel like the decision is right, I proceed.

Settling a personal injury claim is a major decision. Take the time to confer with people you trust. Call a Texas personal injury attorney or car accident lawyer. Many of us will give a free consultation.