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Complaint 5 of 24 in "Offering Too Little Money"
Insurance Carrier: Geico
I was a pedestrian walking across the street in Napverville IL, when a large SUV struck me while I was in the street. The driver who struck me has Geico Insurance out of Georgia. As of yesterday, Feb. 10, 2009, the Supervisor from Geico verbally denied my claim. (I have yet to receive a written denial of liability from them, which the Supervisor claims they mailed to me back on January 30th, 2009.) It is unacceptable and deplorable that GEICO does not take ANY responsibility for ANY liability or payout for my medical expenses that were incurred as a result of this accident. AS I SAW IT WAS CLEAR TO CROSS THE STREET, I proceeded. I believe this driver was in a hurry to turn left from a busy street onto the street I was already walking in, and obviously not paying attention. THE PEDESTRIAN has the RIGHT OF WAY.
Insurance Expert Answer:
Assuming you were really injured -- not just a bruise that went away after a few days -- or incurred any meaningful medical expenses or missed any meaningful amount of work and/or were not able to enjoy normal activities for any stretch, you really should not have even attempted to deal with the driver's carrier on your own. Instead you should have seen a personal injury lawyer in your area. (Our www.AttorneyPages.com is a great place to locate them under Personal Injury or Auto Accidents). The lawyer would assess the facts and let you know if they present a case that is worthwhile to pursue, and if so would typically handle the matter on a contingency -- getting paid only from money the layer helps you recover in most instances.
Dealing with an insurance company yourself in a personal injury case makes little sense. You are an amateur, likely doing it for the first time. To the guilty driver's insurance company you are the enemy -- a potential claimant who, with a lawyer, could cause them to pay potentially significant dollars. They are pros, and do it thousands to tens of thousands of times a year. The insurance company's staff and adjusters know what to ask, how to assess how serious and anxious to settle you are, how to plant doubts in your own mind, how to get you to damage or destroy your potential case, how to get you to damage your credibility, and also damage your self-confidence, while keeping you away from professionals who could really help you without any upfront fee. If you contact the guilty driver's insurance company the first tactic they use is to get you to minimize or destroy your own case. One well known technique is minimizing or trivializing the event -- getting you to talk and having you say you were not injured seriously, you've fully recovered, there is no more pain, you didn't miss any meaningful work, your medical bills were paid for by the employer's carrier, etc. They record everything you say -- sometimes on tape and other times in their files. (Some companies put stuff in their files that you really didn't say -- but a year from now if the matter comes up they have their notes and you have only your memory.) Another tactic is to have you make what they could later claim were misleading statements, and as someone who is faking or exaggerating the facts or the extent of the injury, even as to trivia (was it raining or not? What color outfit were you wearing" It it's if dark and/or raining they then can say how could the car have seen you, at night, or if you say I can't remember then they say how come you're so sure of everything else). That can destroy your credibility before judge, arbitrator or jury. If the other side's insurance company can get you to ask for something to settle, they also are ahead. If you ask for a very small amount -- say $10 for the doctor's co-pay and $10 parking and $5 in gas, they might be willing to pay you $25 in exchange for you giving them a general release, even in circumstances they know you could get tens of thousands of dollars or more in damages for the permanent injury you suffered. Sometimes they will also claim that what you are asking is an outlandish demand when in fact it isn't. But if it is outlandish they know that if the case were ever heard by a jury you could be seen as greedy or cheat who is faking or exaggerating the facts or the extent of the injury. Get a lawyer. Review the facts with the lawyer. If the lawyer does not think you have a good enough case, or the damages are too small, the lawyer will tell you, free.