September 2011 Archives

September 29, 2011

Secrets of Car Accident Insurance Adjusters

Many years ago, I worked as an adjuster for a major insurance company and since then I have been explaining on this blog and my website the many ways in which insurance companies attempt to devalue your personal injury claim and poke holes in your liability claim to make you appear at fault. I have used this personal experience to the benefit of my clients resulting in fantastic and quick personal injury settlements. Despite my previous writings, I was surprised to see an article about the "secrets of insurance adjusters" on a major website such as MSN.com. Nevertheless, there it was... This is a very interesting article covering many of the insurance industries tactics and tricks to ensure you do not receive what you are entitled to for your personal injury claim.

Although they are contractually obligated to protect their insured and pay for all reasonable damages, it is essential to note as this article points out that insurance companies did not become multi-billion dollars businesses by giving away their money!

Devalue the Case!!!

This is insurance adjusting 101. As soon as the accident is reported to the company an adjuster is on the phone talking to you. He or she may try a number of tactics to ensure that you do not get full value for your case:

1) The adjuster will tell you that you do not need an attorney because they value cases the same way with or without an attorney and that the attorney will just take your money. Ask my recent client about this strategy. She attempted to work with the insurance company directly until they offered her an insulting amount of money (less than $20,000). Just a few months after hiring me we settled the case for the at-fault drivers policy limits - $100,000. After hearing this you should understand why insurance adjusters want you to stay away from auto accident lawyers.

2) They will try to convince you to settle quickly. Releases are binding contracts and the insurance companies know that if they throw a few thousand dollars at you early on before you know the full extent of your injuries they can receive a binding Release which will prevent you from seeking any further damages in the future. Never settle early and without first speaking to a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer.

3) They will try to steer you to "preferred" auto body shops. Do not get me wrong, many "preferred" auto body shops do a wonderful job repairing your vehicle, but they do not press the insurance companies for certain repairs that other body shops might. This is because they receive a good amount of business referrals from the insurance companies. Go to the shop you want to go to and if it happens to be a "preferred" body shop then that is fine you can still be confident that they will do a great job!

4) They will look to take a recorded statement from you. Remember that you are under no obligation to give any kind of statement to the other driver's insurance company. They are taking the statement, in part, to confirm the facts of the accident, but also in hopes that you might trip up and say something damaging to your own case. If you make a statement against your own interest, they know have it on tape and will use it against you to offer you less than 100%. In Rhode Island, as I have discussed in the past, the insurance company can withhold any percentage of money that they feel you contributed to the accident. If they believe you were speeding do not be surprised to find out they are reducing your payout by 10-20%. Do not give a statement to the other driver's insurance company without first speaking to a car accident lawyer.
Do not confuse this with your own insurance company who you are contractually obligated to cooperate with.

5) Devalue your injury. The insurance adjuster will attempt to settle your case early, even if you are still seeking medical treatment. They will try to convince you that the injury is not very serious and that their offer is fair. They may even tell you that this is all the money you would receive even if an attorney were involved or if the case went to trial. If you think the offer is too low, it probably is.

As you can see the insurance companies set out early with a plan to cut costs and devalue your case. If you do not hire an experienced personal injury attorney they will use one or all of these tactics to ensure that you do not receive all the money you are entitled to. Don't fall into any of these traps... even MSN money wants to make sure you do not make bad financial decisions following an accident or injury, this is no longer just my office speaking. Call my office today for a free initial consultation. There is no fee unless we obtain money for you!

September 20, 2011

Attorney Joseph Lamy Secures Policy Limits Victory Just Months After Filing Suit

From time to time, I like to take this forum to share great results and this week has seen another personal injury victory for attorney Joseph Lamy. In this case, my client was T-boned by a drunk driver in downtown Providence suffering a fractured ankle. She did not immediately hire a car accident attorney and chose to work directly with the insurance company. After several months to a year of recovery and working directly with the insurance company, they extended an insultingly low offer that barely covered her medical bills. Of course, personal injury attorneys such as myself are not at all surprised by such tactics. Unfortunately, too many people accept these offers in the belief that it is all their case is worth. Particularly after the insurance company tells the victim that they will receive less money if they hire an attorney, etc.

Fortunately, my client understood that the offer was far too low and contacted my office. We filed suit and quickly went to work proving my client's case. After depositions, expert testimony and aggressive discovery, the defense attorney has offered the policy limits in this case to the tune of $100,000.00. Not only is this offer more than FIVE TIMES what my client was initially offered but the offer was made only six months after my taking the case!

This is a fantastic result, particularly given the speed with which the offer was made. Litigation too often takes several years to end in a good result. Results like this, however, remind us that if an offer seems too low it probably is. Litigation while time consuming and at times, stress-inducing, is sometimes the only way to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your serious bodily injury.

If you have been seriously injured in an auto accident or other type of personal injury and are considering which attorney to hire for your representation, remember that most lawyers can settle a case, but only a few know how to win your case! Contact my office right away for a free consultation.

September 12, 2011

Rhode Island Supreme Court Upholds Dog Bite Law

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has upheld the contentious "One Bite" law that Rhode Island still adheres to regarding dog bites. Although the majority of other States have switched to strict liability regarding dog bites (i.e. the owner always must take responsibility for the actions of his dog) Rhode Island still continues to allow owners one "chance" before they are necessarily responsible to a dog bite victim. Dog bites often cause serious injury and under Rhode Island law, determining fault can be quite difficult so it is important to discuss your case with an experienced dog bite attorney.

In the opinion, Chief Justice Suttell explains the current law well:

If injuries are suffered within an owner's enclosed area, the strict-liability statute does not apply, but rather the common law continues to apply and dictates that the plaintiff first must prove that the defendant knew about the dog's vicious propensities, a ... requirement commonly known as the 'one-bite rule'....

In Rhode Island, a dog owner is always responsible for biting a victim IF AND ONLY IF the dog is outside of the home or his "enclosure". In those cases, the owner of the animal will be responsible for your medical bills, lost wages and pain suffering including the scar, if any. If, however, the accident happens inside the home or the animals "enclosure" then the common law applies. Rhode Island State law defines an "enclosure" as "a fence, physical obstruction or any other condition that gives reasonable notice to third parties that the area is private." This means that in order to collect damages you must be able to show that the dog owner KNEW the animal was dangerous and was negligent in allowing the dog around people it could potentially attack. Under Rhode Island law, the owner of the dog knows it is dangerous if it has ever bitten someone in the past (hence the name of the "One Bite" rule), or if it is of a particularly dangerous breed such as a pit bull or akita.

In this case, a State inspector went to the backyard of the homeowner to look at a pigeon coop. While in the backyard the homeowners dog attacked the inspector seriously injuring him. The defense moved to have the case dismissed citing that the dog had never previously attacked anyone. The defense motion was granted and the Supreme Court has upheld the decision pointing to the Rhode Island "One Bite" law. Justice Suttell pointed out that Rhode Island's dog bite laws are well settled and that any changes to the law should come from the State assembly rather than the Courts. (I always feel that when Judges include that language in their opinions that they believe the law might be wrong and are secretly nudging the State Assembly to make changes.)

Interestingly, Justice Robinson, who dissented from Justice Suttell's opinion, pointed out that the dog in question was almost three feet tall and that the jury could conclude the owner should have known that such a large dog was inherently dangerous by his size alone. In so doing, Judge Robinson was not trying to change Rhode Island law but instead offered that even under current law, the case could go to a jury. Instead, the case was thrown out because the dog in question, who has since been euthanized, had never previously attacked anyone.

Continue reading "Rhode Island Supreme Court Upholds Dog Bite Law" »

September 7, 2011

Providence is a Very Accident Prone City

According to a report from Allstate Insurance (I am willing to cite their reports under the assumption that they are accurate even though they are the worst insurance company in America) Providence, Rhode Island is the fifth most auto accident prone city in the country. According to the report, the 170,000 residents of Providence get into a car crash approximately once every six years on average. While Providence fell behind Washington DC which won the award for the most accident prone city in the Country, our residents are still 66% more likely than the average driver to be in an automobile accident. In case you were interested, Fort Collins, Colorado was the safest city to drive in.

If you were involved in a car accident in Providence you are entitled to financial compensation including past and future medical bills, lost wages and/or loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. Contact Joseph Lamy, your Rhode Island auto accident attorney right away for a free consultation.