Insurer Companies Play the Fender-Bender Game, Victims Put Through the Legal Wringer
Chris Welsh, Esq.
Have you ever been in a minor car crash and experienced the stress of getting medical bills paid by your insurance company afterwards? Truth is, you’re not alone. A new CNN investigation has found that insurance companies play hardball when it comes to minor crashes, even when you’re not at fault.
Minor car crashes are accidents in which there is little damage to your car and, at first glance, little personal injury to you. The trouble is that
minor crashes can bring about moderate to serious injuries that the eye doesn’t always see, such as herniated discs, muscle tears, or concussions. These types of injuries can rack up thousands of dollars in medical bills. Still, insurance companies point to your barely scraped car and deny your injuries, and offer you a tiny portion of what you need to cover your bills.
Sound unfair? Insurance companies don’t stop there. If you want to challenge them, they take you to court. Here, they successfully take advantage of their prior misdoing by exploiting the legal system. Fender-bender claims usually don’t belong court, even if you have been left with chronic back problems. This is because good faith mediation between parties should allow for a fair settlement to be reached. In other words, if you were left with $10,000 in medical bills from the accident, you should be granted a sum within that ballpark. Instead, insurance companies offer a scant sum in bad faith in order to put you, and your lawyer, between a rock and a hard place: either you take $1,000/$10,000 or they’ll take you to court. Here, they know that an attorney will be hesitant to take your case, because the cost of bringing it will outweigh the amount you are asking for. The result of this hardball is that you end up with one of two things: a fraction of what you deserve or debt from defending your case.
According to CNN, this has been the nature of the game since the mid-1990’s. After reviewing more than 6,000 documents and court records, and interviewing insurance insiders and accident victims, investigators found that leading insurance companies, like Allstate and State Farm, have made billions of dollars by charging high premiums and paying out less. At the same time, they vilify victims and their attorneys by characterizing them as deceptive, greedy, and most seriously, as trying to defraud insurers. An insurance insider claims that others are just upset that “the gravy train is over,” but evidence points that it is moving full speed–and insurers are the ones on it (CNN.com).
To read more about this issue and hear personal stories from victims of the insurance process, read CNN’s report here.