Many people wonder whether they need a lawyer to help settle a Las Vegas personal injury claim with an insurance company. That all depends on the size and complexity of your claim, among other factors.
Regardless, it is likely in your best interest to schedule a free initial consultation so you can get some feedback from a lawyer about your legal options.
The Harsh Truth About Insurance Companies
Private insurance companies are for-profit enterprises, just as much as a used car dealership is. They are in business to make money by accepting premiums, not to lose money by paying claims. For this reason, insurance companies typically make it easy for you to pay your premium but difficult to collect on a claim.
Insurance companies love claimants who represent themselves because they usually have to pay out much less than they would if the claimant had hired a seasoned personal injury lawyer. If you represent yourself, you will need to try to settle your claim with an insurance adjuster. And insurance adjusters are professional negotiators. To deal with them, you need a professional negotiator on your side. Like, say, a personal injury lawyer.
How a Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
In addition to negotiating your claim for you, a personal injury lawyer can perform many other services. They can advise you, for example, on how to avoid the most common mistakes made by personal injury claimants. Make one of these mistakes, and you could destroy your own claim or drastically diminish its value.
Another way a lawyer can help arises if you need help to settle your claim for an acceptable amount. In that case, you may need to go to court. Your lawyer can help you file the necessary documents, collect admissible evidence, and act as your advocate during court hearings. If you lose, your lawyer can file an appeal for you.
Instead of waiting until the need to go to court arises to hire a lawyer, it is often best to get a lawyer involved right from the beginning. There are a few reasons why this is the case.
First, a good lawyer can dramatically reduce the odds that you will need to go to court in the first place. Insurance companies often experience miraculous “attitude adjustments” once they learn that a claimant has hired a reputable personal injury lawyer.
Second, since your lawyer will have been involved in your case from the start, they will understand it better than they would have if you had hired them only after negotiations stalled.
Insurance Company “Black Hat” Tactics
Below is a very abbreviated list of some of the “black hat” tactics that insurance companies use to deny or diminish claims.
Insurance companies “lowball” you by offering a ridiculously low sum to settle your claim. They do this in the hope that you will be so desperate to pay overdue bills that you will jump at any offer, no matter how inadequate.
Deliberately Delaying Settlement
An insurance company might pepper you with many small delays in the hope that you are unaware of the statute of limitations deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit (in Nevada, this is two years after the accident in most cases). If you miss the deadline, you will lose all bargaining power, and the insurance company will dismiss your claim.
Disputing the Severity of Your Injuries
The insurance company might claim that your injury pre-dated the accident (in other words, the accident did not cause your injury). They might also pressure you to accept an independent medical exam (IME) conducted by a doctor on their payroll. Such doctors are usually biased in favor of the party paying them.
Blaming You for the Accident
The insurance company might blame you for the accident or, more likely, attempt to pin part of the blame on you. They can reduce the amount of their payout if they can successfully claim that you were even partly responsible for the accident. They might also claim that you failed to mitigate your damages by, say, failing to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Using Recorded Statements Against You
Don’t ever agree to give a recorded statement to the insurance company. They will ask you trick questions and then use them against you later.
Insurance companies have private investigators working for them. If your claim is sizable, they will send one to spy on you and to otherwise investigate your claim. You are not being paranoid by assuming that these investigators are “out to get you.” Indeed they are.
Snooping on Your Social Media Accounts
Imagine uploading an old photo to Facebook that shows you enjoying yourself at a party. This wouldn’t be a good idea because you are likely to see that photo again later as evidence – either in settlement negotiations or court. It’s best to completely shut down your social media accounts while your claim is pending.
Misrepresenting the Law
It is easy for an insurance company representative to misrepresent the law to weaken your claim. Of course, a personal injury lawyer won’t be fooled.
Misrepresenting the Terms of the Insurance Policy
In addition to the law, your claim is also determined by the insurance policy’s terms. The insurance company will be in a position to interpret policy language in a manner that disadvantages you. A lawyer will know just how to read policy language.
Talking You Out of Hiring a Lawyer
This is the most dangerous trick of all. The right lawyer can save you from any of the other tactics mentioned above.
Bad-Faith Insurance Claims
Under Nevada law, insurance companies must deal with claimants in “good faith,” which means basic honesty. It doesn’t matter whether you are their customer or someone else asserting a third-party claim. Either way, the company has an obligation to deal with you in good faith.
Many of the “black hat” tactics discussed above are violations of the insurance company’s good faith obligation. If you hire a lawyer, under certain circumstances, you can sue them for “bad-faith insurance.” These claims can be hard to win. Nevertheless, the mere prospect of asserting one is enough to deter many insurance companies from using questionable tactics.
An Experienced Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer Will Know Every Trick in the Book (and Then Some!)
An experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer at Battle Born Injury Lawyers will be yawning when the insurance company tries its “black hat” tactics. Insurance companies know this, which is why most of them won’t even try to pull any of the foregoing tricks on you once they learn you have hired a lawyer. Why do you think they tried to discourage you from hiring a lawyer in the first place? Contact us today for a free consultation by calling (702) 570-9000.