This is a video in our LawTok series: Straight Talk with a Personal Injury Lawyer
I explain to people on phone calls, how to get the best insurance claim from the adjusters, before they even hire me. Because a lot of times, and I don’t blame them, is their concern that an attorney’s just going to come in, take money that they were already going to get, and then they’re just out a third of whatever they would…. Cause we all charge a third of the gross recovery. I try to tell people, listen, this is what you have to do. You’ve got to get a copy of the police report. You’ve got to make sure you go to your medical exams. Every single one, the insurance company will be watching. They will get those records. If there’s a gap in treatment, they’re going to make an excuse. You’ve got to get a copy, once you reach MMI. Maximum medical improvement. I want people to be able to do this on their own, but I also know the insurance company is going to pay penny on the dollar, just by knowing that it’s someone who hasn’t been there before, and who doesn’t do this professionally.
They want to take advantage of that lack of information. Once you reach maximum medical improvement, you need to get a copy of your medical record, a copy of the medical billing, and a copy of all medical images, like MRIs, and x-rays. You send all that into the insurance adjuster, the liability adjuster, for the at fault driver. You send them a letter saying, “Hey, this is how the accident has impacted me. I can’t swim with my grand babies anymore without feeling pain in my lumbar. I can’t go hiking with my kids anymore. I can’t lift my grand babies anymore.” You want to explain how it has impacted you, and you send all that to the liability adjuster. One thing we also do, is to try to get an idea as to which claim should be paid what. What’s a $20,000 claim, versus a $100,000 claim?
One way we do that, is we go in, and we look at the past 20 years of jury verdicts. Kentucky trials, and we look at similar injuries, and we say, “Okay, well, this is what a jury awarded in this case.” We send that over to the adjuster. If you can do that, go ahead, and send that information to the adjuster. It’s about creating a paper record where the adjuster later can’t deny, “Hey, I didn’t have that information. So obviously, we only paid five bucks, when we should have paid $10,000, because I didn’t have that information.” Create a paper record, send the letter, send everything over, and make sure that you ask the adjuster, what is your best, and final offer? The reason I want to get this information out to everybody, is because one, if you don’t need me, and you can get a policy limit payment, I want you to get that.
You’re the one that’s injured, not me. If you need me, I’m here for hire, and I will help you. If you can do it without me, I’m all for it. Spend the time, go ahead, get the records, send it over. But one thing you need to ask for, is their best, and final offer, because that will put them in the position to say, this is what I think your claim is worth. If they don’t value that correctly, they can open themselves up to a Bad Faith claim. An additional claim where they can get paid.
Where my clients can get paid even more funds. It really is just about, making sure people are properly equipped with the information to go ahead, and take care of their own life, and try to get back on track. Now, one thing I do offer, is after you do that, you get that final and best offer, bring it back to me. Let me review it. Let me talk to you about it. For example, if it’s a $25,000 policy, and the adjuster says, “I’ll pay you $25,000.” I will tell you to go ahead, and move forward with that. Now, since you tapped out the policy limits, you need to be concerned about any UIM policy. That’s a policy you purchase on your own, through your own car insurance. Usually it’s an amount of 25 or $50,000. If you tap out the liability policy limits, you can then move on to UIM. There is a specific procedure, it’s called a Coots procedure.
You have to send a Coots letter. It’s pursuant to Allstate versus Coots, a Kentucky court case that says, you need to put the UIM provider on notice of any liability settlements. Otherwise, you lose the claim. This can be a difference between $25,000 for a lot of people, and you have to send it certified letter. You have to let them know the details of the liability settlement, and you have to give them a chance to either defend, or to go ahead and waive their rights, and allow you to settle the liability claim. I’m glad to talk to anybody about that, either as their attorney, or as just an advisor, and let them try to do it on their own. But, it’s definitely something you want to be careful of, because you can lose out on a lot of funds that way.