Whether you are trying to obtain benefits under your own policy or, are dealing with the insurance company for some other person or business - do not assume that the insurer has your best interests in mind.
Insurance companies are businesses and like almost all businesses with shareholders - their highest priority is to turn a profit. To do that, they sell policies and collect premiums. They then honor as few claims as possible and pay policyholders as little as they can get away with. And sometimes even less.
How are they able to do that? One of the primary weapons in their arsenal is the insurance contract itself. This works because the contracts are intentionally complex and difficult to understand even for many attorneys. Policyholders simply do not know what their coverage includes for before they call to make a claim. Instead, they assume that their insurer will either tell them or, automatically provide the coverage without being specifically asked.
In our experience, that just doesn't happen.
When negligence by an individual or business that they insure is alleged in a personal injury or wrongful death claim - insurance companies waste no time in trying to limit the damage. Often, they will send representatives to the scene of an accident within hours and try to make contact with victims within a few days.
In some instances, their approach may be overtly friendly and compassionate. They want to "help." They offer a quick settlement so that you can put this whole thing behind you as soon as possible. Why bother with a lawyer? Don't make things more complicated than they need to be. Move on with your life, they say.
In other situations, they may try to intimidate. Take it or leave it, they say. It's fair. You don't have a good case anyway and if you try to take them to court, you'll lose and get nothing.
Another insurance company trap you should be aware of is simply to get you talking, period. This is especially important to avoid because California is what is known as a "comparative negligence" state. What that means is that any legal recovery you might be entitled to can be reduced by the portion of fault you had in the accident. By getting people to talk before they've hired legal counsel, insurance companies are often able to significantly reduce their potential liability even before the case "officially" begins.
For more information, see:
Protect Your Rights After a Serious Accident in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara: (805) 962-2022
Our law firm handles personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Santa Barbara and all areas of Southern California. To talk with an experienced lawyer and receive a free case evaluation - call our offices directly or, contact us online.