Of course just because the economy is in the tank doesn’t mean that people do not still get injured in car accidents. And people still have insurance. As with other states, insurance is required by law in order to operate a motor vehicle. But things have changed. I suppose the reason is that the insurance companies are under financial strain. There may not be less people buying insurance, but insurance companies are also involved in the investment of assets, which cannot be doing very well right now.
They have changed their behavior. For small injury/damage cases, a few years ago, they were willing to offer a fair settlement up front without much trouble, in almost every case. Now things have changed. They are denying a much larger percentage of claims. The ones that they do make pre-lawsuit offers of settlement on are laughable. They barely offer enough to pay the outstanding medical bills.
The result is this: we are forced to file lawsuits in almost every case. This also means that without a personal injury attorney, your chances of recovering a fair settlement are slim, because you do not have the ability to litigate the claim. It is generally much easier to deal with the attorneys defending the lawsuit than it is to deal with the adjustors. I have found that, especially lately, the adjustors have become arrogant jerks, who relish in denying and undervaluing claims. Real scumbags.
Only if we, as personal injury attorneys and injury victims, start filing suit on every claim, which forces the insurance company to incur defense litigation costs, can we help bring the pre-suit settlement values back to their proper level. For those of you speaking with the adjustors without an attorney representing you, beware of their tactics. They will lie to you, they will try and trick you. Their biggest lie is to dissuade you from contacting a personal injury attorney. They will tell you that you will be paying a share of your settlement to the attorney, and that you will not get any more than what they are currently offering you. This is a lie. Almost all personal injury attorneys will speak with you about your situation at no cost. If the particular attorney you have contacted will not, then call someone else. In some cases it may not be best to hire an attorney to prosecute the claim, but you certainly should at least talk to one before settling. Nationwide is not on your side. State Farm is not a good neighbor (just ask Floridians), and the rest of them are scoundrels too. Be informed, or represented, before talking with them.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.