Learn about 3 common defenses used by insurance companies to devalue or kill car accident injury claims and how we defeat them.
Insurance companies and the lawyers who work for them have one goal – to pay as little as possible on a claim. That’s it. It’s not about “fairness” or paying you reasonable value on your legitimate injury claim. Instead, it’s about employing tactics to deny, delay and defend against paying you the reasonable compensation you deserve for your personal injuries caused by their insured’s irresponsible behavior.
Because the insurance companies’ strategies are largely the same, regardless of the facts of a particular case, personal injury trial lawyers see the same tactics used again and again. Here are three common ways the insurance company and its lawyers try to reduce or eliminate your legitimate personal injury claim:
They blame you for causing the accident
Texas is a comparative negligence state. This means that if a judge or jury finds you were partially at fault for an accident, the value of your injury award will be reduced by the percentage of your fault up to 50%. And if you are found to have the majority of the blame (51% or more) then you will recover nothing. For example:
Fault for the Accident
Amount of Award
Amount you Recover
Defendant 90% You 10% $100 $90 Defendant 60% You 40% $100 $60 Defendant 50% You 50% $100 $50 Defendant 49% You 51% $100 $0
Given the insurance company’s goal is to pay you as little money as possible, I’m sure you can see why this is the most common defense in car accident injury cases. Even in a rear-end collision case, the insurance lawyer can argue you swerved into the lane or stopped suddenly.
How We Overcome This Defense: Hard work.
First, we develop the case regarding who was at fault. In a motor vehicle accident case for example, we may obtain the police report, take recorded witness statements, visit the scene to take photographs and measurements, locate and secure video surveillance footage that may have captured the car wreck, obtain traffic light signal sequence data, analyze the damages to the vehicles to determine angles of impact, download data from the vehicles’ black box data recorders, and get certified weather station data if weather or the angle of the sun played a factor in the auto accident.
Next, we strategize how we can use the information we gathered to undermine the defense case and catch the at-fault defendant in lies and inconsistencies. Lastly, we spend a lot of time preparing our clients so they can withstand any cross-examination thrown at them. We don’t do this by “coaching” them or telling them what to say. Instead, we simply arm them with all of the facts of the case and organize their truth to make it powerful. As an experienced Dallas trial lawyer, I will tell you that juries can spot when someone is being truthful and authentic and when they’re not. We always work hard to make sure that whatever testimony our client gives is honest, authentic and powerful.
They deny causing you any injury
If they can’t avoid responsibility by pointing the finger at you for causing the auto accident, they’ll attempt to avoid responsibility by claiming they didn’t cause your injury. The first tactic is to claim that you were already injured before the crash. For example, say you’re rear-ended and begin having neck pain that isn’t going away. Your doctor sends you to get an MRI of your neck and it shows that you have a herniated disk. The insurance defense lawyers have paid medical experts who will testify that your herniated disk wasn’t caused by the accident but rather was a “pre-existing condition” caused by normal wear-and-tear over time. This is especially true if you’ve ever had neck pain in the past. Even if it was minor pain your briefly had years ago. They will pour over your past medical records to look for any little thing they can use to say, “see – she had neck pain before! She must have already been injured!” The second tactic they use to try to avoid responsibility for causing your injury is to claim that you injured your neck doing something else and are simply trying to “pin it on the defendant” so you can get money for it.
One way they do this is by exploiting delays or gaps in your medical treatment. Say you’re like many of us who don’t rush out to the doctor for every little thing. Yes, after the wreck your neck is hurting but you keep hoping it will go away on its own and it’s not until a month after the collision that you first see a doctor. You can bet that they’ll pound on the fact that it took you a whole month to even go to the doctor – if you were really injured you would have gotten treatment sooner – and will imply that you probably only went to a doctor because your attorney sent you there in an effort to drum up phony medical expenses for an injury case.
How We Overcome This Defense: Science
Not only will we obtain your medical records so we can document your health condition (and lack of complaints) before the collision in contrast to your complaints and the medical treatment you needed after the collision, but we will also use imaging studies and other objective diagnostic tests to prove that you were injured in the collision and will obtain expert medical testimony from your doctors and other experts who can explain the science to a jury.
They attack you
They attack your personal credibility and character. While the insurance company attorneys may not call you a liar outright, they are highly trained to imply in a variety of ways that you’re exaggerating your injuries, you’re simply motivated by money or are not being completely truthful.
How We Overcome This Defense: Aikido
You didn’t know that we could use Aikido in the courtroom? In the martial art of Aikido, one directs the attacker’s energy back on the attacker. We’re going to prove that it was the defendant’s choice to break important safety rules that caused the collision and your injuries. The jury’s job is then to assess how your injuries have affected your life, so we will present this evidence to them in an authentic, creative and powerful way.
We are going to make sure the jurors recognize that it’s the role of the jury to enforce the safety rules of our community and it does so by requiring the defendant to make up for all of the harm caused to you. Not some of the harm – all of it. And that brings us to Aikido. After we’ve proved all of this, how do you think a jury will view the defendant’s insinuations that you’re a greedy liar and a fraud? If the jury allows these tactics it’s giving the defendant a pass. And giving the defendant a pass does not enforce safety rules and keep our community safer. In this environment, the more forceful the defendant and his lawyers attack you, the worse it is for them. Courtroom Aikido.
The above defense lawyer tactics are straight out of the insurance company playbook we see used time and time again at trial. And why do you think they keep using them? Because they work. But they don’t work against an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows how to develop your case and present it in a powerful way. That’s the most important reason to hire the very best personal injury lawyer you can find. So please do your research. Not all injury lawyers are alike.
Jason Franklin is founder of The Franklin Law Firm, a Dallas Personal Injury law firm that specializes in providing Real Help for Real Injuries to North Texas accident victims injured in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accidents, or other personal injury cases. Because of his years of experience and record of success, Jason Franklin is frequently invited to speak to lawyer groups about Texas personal injury law. Franklin has been repeatedly recognized by Super Lawyers as being one of the best personal injury trial lawyers in the State of Texas.