This may come a surprise to some of you: A lot of insurance companies aren’t really in the business of helping people. Some certainly aren’t in the business of helping those who were injured due to the negligence of their insureds.
Did you know that in Oklahoma (and many other states), in a jury trial on a personal injury lawsuit, it is against the Court rules to even mention the fact that any judgment against the at-fault party, including his attorney fees and costs, will be paid by an insurance company? If the word ‘insurance’ even gets mentioned at trial, the judge can and often will declare a mistrial. Most insurance companies want everyone to think that the money is coming directly out of the pocket of the person who caused the accident. They want the jury to feel sorry for their insured. They don’t want the jury to know that often times, the defense attorney is actually an employee of the insurance company, who is paid a salary directly from Allstate or Farmers! Yes – In Oklahoma, an insurance company can own a law firm that it can use simply to minimize what it has to pay out for claims. This allows some insurers to make low-ball settlement offers because it costs them no more to take a case to trial. These insurance companies deny claims or offer ridiculously low settlements even when it is clear that their insured was at fault – they’ve already paid the attorney! They also do this because, particularly in smaller cases, they know how expensive it is to go to court, and the injured person may not be able to find an attorney willing to help them.
If you are insured by one of these companies, maybe it sounds good to you: “Hey, my insurance company owns its own law firm, so go ahead and sue me. I am in “good hands!” Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me give you an example I recently observed; Sweet little old lady gets into an accident – it is her fault. The other person sustained some minor injuries, incurred some reasonable medical treatment, and made a claim against sweet little lady’s insurance. The insurer gave the injured person a low-ball settlement offer that was much lower than her medical bills, and as her medical bills were piling up, she hired an attorney to sue the little old lady in order to recover. The insurer owns its own law firm, so they simply pass the file over to one of their attorneys to defend the little old lady in the lawsuit. Rather than resolve the matter early on by increasing their settlement offer to something more reasonable, they force the case to trial (which took well over a year to get to). Trial week arrives, and the little old lady is forced to come downtown to the courthouse, and sit for 8+ hours in an uncomfortable chair for 4 days in a row. The outcome? The injured party wins her case and is paid a reasonable amount. The same amount that the insurer should have paid on the claim to begin with. So essentially, the insurer got to hold on to the money they should have paid the injured party to begin with for over a year, and they forced their insured to come to the courthouse and sit as a defendant at an unnecessary trial.
Do you want your insurer to force you to go to trial in a situation like that above? Why do you pay insurance premiums? So that your insurer will take care of you when something bad happens. In the aforementioned example, the accident was their insured’s fault, the demand from the injured party was reasonable, and their insured wanted to settle. The insurance company ignored its insured’s requests to settle, and instead dragged her through a lengthy lawsuit.
Here’s another secret – do you know who the real ambulance chasers are? Not attorneys. Oklahoma forbids attorneys from directly calling or going to the homes or hospital rooms of people who have been injured in accidents unless the injured person reaches out to the attorney for help. Do you know who does call injured people almost immediately after an accident? Insurance adjusters. Some more unscrupulous insurance companies even have private investigators go to the homes or workplaces of injured people only a day or two after an accident. Many attempt to pressure an injured person to sign a liability waiver or other forms, and often insist on taking a recorded statement before the injured person has a chance to find out his or her legal rights.
After an accident, you do not have to talk to the other party’s insurance adjusters. You shouldn’t. Call the attorneys of Wandres Law, PC and talk to us before you do anything else. You have rights – don’t waive them! Put us in your corner and let us go to work for you.
Our attorneys help people throughout Oklahoma. We frequently handle personal injury cases arising out of the following counties: Creek, Washington, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers, Cleveland, Mayes, Wagoner Cherokee, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Payne, and Garfield. Of course, we also take on cases from the cities and towns in our own backyard, Including, Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Sapulpa, Jenks, Bixby, Bartlesville, Skiatook, Mannford, Sand Springs, Glenpool .