WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO HIRE An Insurance Bad Faith LAWYER
Insurance company claims adjusters are professional negotiators who have extensive experience in dealing with claimants who are not represented by attorneys. These adjusters use an array of techniques that include intimidation, befriending you and a number of other psychological methods designed to get you to accept the least amount of money possible for your claim.
Claims adjusters know that if they can keep the injured party negotiating there is a very great chance that a favorable settlement will be obtained in favor of the insurance company. Claims adjusters know that in almost every case an injured party will not file a lawsuit on his or her own because they do not possess the required level of skill, expertise or experience and therefore the only option they feel they might have is to obtain some type of settlement from the insurance company.
In many instances, claims adjusters will dissuade and discourage injured parties from hiring a lawyer by telling them that lawyer’s fee will cost a great deal of money leading the claimant to believe why pay a lawyer to do something he can do for himself.
Studies have shown that experienced lawyers can negotiate settlements and/or obtain verdicts that are many times higher than what the injured parties can negotiate for themselves. In other words, in most cases you will make out better after paying the lawyer than you would if you did not hire a lawyer and negotiated your own settlement.
If you have a serious injury, wrongful death or medical malpractice case, you should contact us so we can find you an experienced lawyer before dealing with the other party’s insurance company to avoid creating problems for yourself.
In addition to the above considerations, there are a great number of complicated issues that arise in a personal injury or medical malpractice case. These legal issues are fraught with potential problems and can sometimes be the subject of a malpractice action against an attorney who improperly handles a case.
1. STATUES OF LIMITATIONS
The statute of limitation (sometimes call statutes of repose or other similar names) is the time period specified by law within which an action must be filed. If you do not file within the applicable statute of limitations period your claim would be subject to dismissal that would prevent you from pursuing the claim regardless of the merit of the case.
Statute of limitations dates vary from state to state. Some states provide that the action be filed within the applicable time period from the date of the injury while other states allow for a tolling or extension of the filing period from the date of discovery of the injury.
Certain states allow for a tolling of the statute of limitations if the person is incompetent or is a minor until the person becomes competent or reaches their majority, under certain circumstances.
2. NOTICE PROVISIONS
There are also certain notice provisions that have very short limitation periods that deal with such issues as state, local or federal governmental entities. In certain circumstances, if you do not comply with the statutory notice provisions you might be precluded from filing a lawsuit even though it was filed within the applicable statute of limitations period.
The statute of limitations in any particular case may be somewhat difficult to calculate because a claim may involve different causes of action against different defendants. Once you miscalculate when the statute has run or if you fail to properly provide statutory notice you claim may be forever barred despite the validity of the claim or the extent of your damages.
3. JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY
The doctrine of joint and several liability holds that when a number of defendants who engaged in separate and independent acts of negligence that combined to cause a single injury are held to be jointly and severally liable. In other words, if one party was 1% at fault and the other parties were 99% at fault, the party who was 1% at fault could be responsible for 100% of the damages suffered by the injured party.
The law of joint and several liability varies from state to state and a number of states have somewhat complicated variations or modifications of this rule.
4. VICARIOUS LIABILITY
Vicarious liability deals with the ability to hold institutions or companies liable for the acts of their non-employees. For example, in some states a hospital may be liable for the negligence of a physician acknowledged to be an independent contractor while in other states hospitals may not be liable for the acts of non-employee members of the medical staff.
5. EXPERT TESTIMONY
In certain states, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit must file a certificate of good faith, or other similar type document, that states that a medical expert has reviewed the file and has determined that there is a good faith basis for a malpractice claim.
6. THRESHOLD LIMITS
In some states, one’s injuries must exceed a minimum threshold of seriousness before being allowed to file suit. Some states define “serious injury” as an injury that results in death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement, a fracture, permanent loss of use of a body function or other significant permanent disability.
In other states, your medical bills must exceed a certain dollar figure or you must be out of work for a certain number of days before a person can file suit.
7. DAMAGE CAPS
A growing number of states have placed artificial caps on the amount of money an injured party is able to obtain for his or her injuries. In certain states, this cap applies whether the claim is for an injury or a death.
8. COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE
In certain states, the negligent party is allowed to offer evidence of certain collateral or other payments that the injured party received which would then be used to reduce the award that the responsible party would have to pay.
9. LAST CLEAR CHANCE
This legal theory holds that if a plaintiff has the last opportunity to avoid an accident or injury and fails to do so then that party will be held solely responsible for his/her injuries regardless of the negligence of the person who caused the accident.
10. PRE-JUDGEMENT INTEREST
Certain states allow for the court or jury to provide interest on the award that is made the plaintiff. The interest rates and commencement period for the running of interest vary from state to state.
11. ASSUMPTION OF RISK
This legal doctrine provide that a plaintiff who knowingly and voluntarily exposes himself/herself to a dangerous condition or situation which results in some type of injury may not be entitled to compensation due to the fact that the plaintiff has assumed the risk and agrees to accept the consequences.
A number of states provide immunities in specific cases, generally to governmental entities and their employees. Certain states provide for abbreviated notice provisions which mean that you have a much shorter period of time in which to provide a required notice to a governmental agency or employee, that must be made to a state agency or claims commissioner before a claim can be reviewed.
13. CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE
Certain states follow the doctrine of contributory negligence which states that a plaintiff is prevented from recovering for damages caused by someone else’s negligence if he or she contributed or was in any way responsible for the negligence or injury.
14. COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE
Certain states follow the doctrine of comparative negligence which states that a plaintiff’s damages may be reduced if the plaintiff is in any was at fault for the accident. In some states, if the plaintiff is found to be fifty percent at fault for the injury or accident then no damages will be awarded. In other states, regardless of the plaintiff’s percentage fault in the accident, the award will be reduced by the same percentage.
15. OVER TREATMENT
Claims adjusters, in many instances, allege that the injured party over treated for the injuries that he or she sustained as a result of the negligence of another. In yet other instances, the insurance adjuster will claim that excessive tests were ordered or that the injured party was over charged for treatment that he/she received.
This partial list of potentially problematic legal issues is only the tip of the iceberg as far as matters that must be investigated before proceeding with a claim are concerned. If one of these issues is overlooked or not dealt with properly, it could result in very serious negative consequences for your case not the least of which could result in the dismissal of your case without a prospect of recovering anything at any point in time.
The above information is only a brief summary of some of the basic items which should be addressed in a personal injury case. There are a great number of other instructions which should be followed in such a case. Not knowing your rights or proceeding without the proper representation could severely prejudice your case.
It is very important that you contact us at the earliest possible moment, so we can arrange to get you one of the lawyers in your area to protect your rights and to help maximize the amount of money you may recover.