I met with a client today, and that was the very question we discussed. He was in a relatively minor accident but was feeling a little stiffness in his neck. Because there was very little visible damage to his vehicle (and not much to the other vehicle either), I was not inclined to represent him. I was very honest with this gentleman. I told him that his case wasn’t going to be worth much because of the minor damage. I explained that most insurance adjusters generally equate minor damage with minor injuries (or not at all). While I encouraged him to seek medical care for his condition, I explained that bringing a claim for personal injury requires work. You can’t just sit there at home and expect your claim will be successful. For this particular client, the incident was so minor that he decided it wasn’t “worth it” for him to bother. Bringing a personal injury case isn’t always warranted, and in some cases, may not be the best thing for the client to undergo. Bringing a claim requires active participation.
There seems to be a new approach being employed by some over-zealous insurance adjusters. They will offer to meet you at your home to “discuss” your case. Make no mistake…they are not interested in “discussing” your case. They are there to offer you a quick, low-ball settlement. Insurance adjusters are often rewarded for “closing” files and resolving them quickly. For some companies, the longer a file remains open, the more questions are asked by supervisors. So the adjuster will meet with you and convince you they have tons of experience with cases just like yours and that $500 should be enough settlement. They will have their checkbook for sure. Remember, insurance companies don’t make money by paying claims. They make money by taking in premiums. If the insurance adjuster wants to meet you, talk to a lawyer first. Never sign anything until you run it by an experienced lawyer. If you sign your rights away, and accept a low-ball settlement, then you cannot come back later and ask for more.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,