Don’t Believe Everything Your Insurance Company Tells You
By Sean Lally, Staff Writer
Dealing with insurance adjusters as you attempt to obtain compensation for a head injury can be a long and frustrating process. And, to make matters worse, insurance adjusters are often looking to save money, leaving your interests aside. For this reason, there are a number of precautions to consider when negotiating claims.
You should, for instance, refuse to accept a low settlement, as this is one of the more common missteps in negotiating without an attorney. Additionally, you should be skeptical if an insurance company advises against retaining an attorney. Insurance companies often fabricate dubious fictions to weaken your position in negotiations. Thus, it’s important to keep a few things in mind as you move forward with your claims.
Knowing Your Injury
To begin with, insurance companies may allege that your head injury could not have been caused by a slip and fall accident. This is demonstrably false. According to mayoclinic.org, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result from any number of accidents, including slipping in the tub and falling out of bed. Take, as an example, the NPR report on Brian Arling, a doctor who didn’t think to check for a TBI after hitting his head on the eaves in his attic while looking for some files. He was eventually diagnosed with a severe TBI. So, it would appear, normal everyday bumps can lead to head injuries.
Relatedly, you might be told by an insurance company representative that head injuries (and TBIs in particular) always present symptoms right away. They may say this in order to get out of covering your medical expenses. Don’t fall for it. Arling felt back pain for weeks while never noticing any pain in his head. But after he started feeling “so weak” that he “couldn’t carry [his] plate out to the back deck,” he went to the doctor where he discovered that blood was putting immense pressure on his brain. In short, TBIs are not always immediately apparent, so don’t let your insurance company tell you otherwise.
Making the Right Choice
An insurance company might tell you that “any lawyer will do.” The falsity of this claim cannot be emphasized enough. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a lawyer. For one, personal injury lawyers tend to specialize in certain areas, so in the case of a head injury, you want to find an attorney who has handled similar cases before. If you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), then someone who has a history with TBIs would be ideal. He or she will be better suited to negotiate with your insurance company because they’ve gone through it before. It’s also best to track down several lawyers before choosing one, as not every attorney is as skilled as the next. To this end, you might want to use sites like Yelp, Martindale-Hubbell, Avvo or PersonalInjury.com in order to compare and contrast different lawyers. Also, personal injury consultations cost nothing, so you can meet with a lawyer before making a final decision.
Not Every Case
There are certain situations where a personal injury lawyer may not be necessary. If an attorney realizes that an insurance company’s initial offer is sufficient, he or she will communicate this to you and reject the case. Or if you live in a no-fault state, your right to sue is probably limited, meaning, no matter who is at fault, your expenses must reach a certain threshold before you can seek remuneration from the responsible party. For example, in Kentucky, medical expenses for broken bones, permanent injury, disfigurement or death, must exceed $1,000 before a lawsuit can commence. An attorney might not be necessary in a no-fault situation, but once again, he or she will tell you if this is the case.
In sum, it’s best not to believe everything an insurance company tells you because, more often than not, they’re looking out for their own interests. It’s better to consult with several attorneys to learn more about your options as you attempt to obtain remuneration for your head injury.