Last month I defended a deposition of one of my injury clients. It was against one of the big insurance carriers that advertise all the time using gimmicks that make you laugh and apparently make you trust them. If you think about it, you pay for auto insurance to not only protect you if you hurt someone in an auto accident, but also to assure that you are taken care of if you are injured in an auto accident. So it comes as a big surprise when I tell my clients that they need to be prepared for a fight when they are injured…especially if it was a minor impact accident.
Have you ever driven by a huge crash on the side of the road? You’ve seen the type of accident where the cars are mangled and your first thought was “I sure hope no one was seriously injured”. Compare that to a minor car crash where someone is rear-ended and there is little damage to the vehicles. You probably don’t look twice at the latter accident, nor do you think that anyone was injured. In today’s world where everyone has a smart phone, you can’t drive for 10 minutes without seeing these people driving and playing on their phones. These people cause accidents every day. Usually they are rear-end collisions and the way cars are built today they generally don’t cause a lot of vehicle damage. But what they can, and often do cause, are soft tissue damage and whiplash that can leave a person with permanent injuries for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not care about your actual injuries. They care more about how much money they can save.
Minor impact, rear-end collisions happen every day. In some cases the victim does not think too much about it and goes home to sleep it off. They wake up the next day and are very sore and figure it will all go away within a day or two. Fast forward a week and they are no longer sore but have now developed daily headaches and mild pain in their neck, much like when you sleep on it wrong and wake up with a sore neck for a few days. Well at this point the victim decides to seek medical attention and ends up at a chiropractor’s office. They are diagnosed with a “sprain/strain of the neck” and are sent out for MRI’s. They continue to visit the chiropractor and the results of the MRI reveal that they have suffered a herniation to a disc in their neck. So they continue to treat, and they realize that with treatment the painful symptoms get better, but they have a disc herniation that is permanent and was caused by the sudden movement of getting hit from behind in the auto accident. They seek to have their medical bills paid by the insurance carrier and money for future medical treatment. They come to a full blown reality that the insurance company is not willing to pay the claim and some $15 dollar an hour adjuster is telling them that they couldn’t have been injured from the minor impact accident. So without any medical training or experience, without consulting any experts, this adjuster has somehow determined that the claim is not valid because he saw a picture of the cars and there wasn’t enough damage to the vehicles to herniate a disc. At this point the victim goes and seeks the advice of a personal injury attorney. They are now informed by the attorney that, based on the fact that there isn’t “enough” property damage to the cars, the insurance company will take this position on just about every single claim. We are talking about a client that has done what they are supposed to do. They have faithfully paid their insurance premiums month after month, and year after year. Now that they are asking for their insurance carrier to hold up its end of the bargain, they are basically being called a liar.
The reality is that cars in the United States have to meet a certain “standard”. One of these standards is that when they are rear-ended by a vehicle under a pre-determined speed, the cars cannot show any property damage, hence the advent of the shock absorbing bumpers that all cars have in order to meet this standard. Oddly enough this standard was pushed through legislation by the insurance companies themselves. They knew if the cars showed little to no damage to the bumpers they could defend these types of accidents much easier. They knew that if it comes down to it, and a jury has to sit for 2-3 days of testimony in a court house, that all they have to do is blow up the pictures of the cars and show the jury while they say “look at the property damage of the cars…Does it look like anyone could of been hurt in this accident”? This is in fact what they do. They win and get the jury to believe that they couldn’t have possibly been injured in such a minor accident. So years ago, the major insurance companies, with the cool and funny commercials, decided to not evaluate a claim based on the medical evidence, but rather just take the position that the accident was minor, and thus not enough to warrant them doing their jobs and paying for the injuries.
It has been proven time and time again that even minor accidents can herniate discs in the neck and back. In fact, all it takes is a sneeze to herniate a disc. Have you ever been at a pool when someone decides to push someone in the pool when they are not expecting it? That sudden movement of the body can easily herniate a disc. But insurance companies do not care. They basically force attorneys to file lawsuits against them and they will gladly spend many times over what the claim is worth to defend these cases all the way to trial. More often than not, they get favorable results from juries. They put victims and attorneys in a “take it or leave it” situation. So some attorneys do not even take minor impact accident because they know they will have to file a lawsuit and have the cards stacked against them. Years ago, I decided that I would not fold when it came to minor impact accidents. I decided that if the case had merit and the victim needed strong representation that I would fight the odds and meet the insurance giants head on. If you are involved in a minor impact accident make sure to ask your potential attorney how often he goes to trial and how many minor impact cases have they taken to trial. You must ask these strong questions before you engage someone to represent you. You need to know that they are willing and able to file a lawsuit on these type of cases because you can be assured that the insurance giants will fight your claim every time. If you have a question about your case, feel free to email me directly to discuss. Our consultations are always free.