Is your insurance company on your side? Oftentimes, yes – but not if it’s costing them money.
When you buy auto insurance, it’s with the assumption that you will have coverage in the event of an accident which causes you serious injury. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always fit in with the insurance companies profit margins. Insurance companies are businesses with and their shareholders are there to make money. Make no mistake; they will use every means legally possible to avoid paying claims if it helps their bottom line.
Basically, the insurance company wants to take in as much money as possible through premiums, while paying out as little as possible (but enough to avoid regulatory scrutiny). This way the business makes money and the shareholders are happy.
Real life example #1
In April of 2014, a Burleson woman was on her normal commute to the Fort Worth Stockyards to open her boutique, when an 11-pound piece of metal crashed through her windshield on northbound I-35W close to Downtown Fort Worth. The force was so strong that it crashed through the windshield, entered her cheek, severed her ear, and exited the back of her skull – according to the victim’s husband, a local police officer.
The couple had uninsured motorist coverage, and while the insurance company did pay for the property damage on the car, it refused to pay for the bodily injury because there had been “no physical contact with another vehicle,” just a part of another vehicle.
The insurance company in this case came to the conclusion that if the victim was hit by the truck (rather than part of it), and the truck then fled the scene, the incident would have been covered. The Texas insurance code says to qualify for benefits under uninsured motorist coverage, the victim has to have made “physical contact” with a vehicle. There’s nothing in the code about hitting fallen cargo or part of another vehicle, and so the wording leaves the law open to interpretation.
This is not the case in all states, however, but it is a “loophole” that insurance companies use in Texas and many other states to avoid paying out claims.
Real life example #2
In another case, an SUV struck and killed another driver at an intersection. The at-fault driver’s insurance company settled the claim for just $25,000, but the family claimed that the driver was underinsured and sought damages of an additional $75,000 through an underinsured claim – which her insurance company refused to pay. This left the family of the victim with only one option: to file a civil lawsuit against the driver of the SUV. When this case made it to trial, the victim’s family discovered that Progressive had actually entered the case to argue in support of the at-fault driver! During the trial, a Progressive spokesperson said the company was “defending our own interests.”
Only after the issue went viral (thanks to the victim’s brother’s social media post titled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court”), did Progressive finally settle with the family.
The problem and its solution.
While you may feel that your accident case is black and white, the insurance companies will always look for those gray areas; loopholes that will allow them to legally deny claims in order to save money for the insurance company. These two incidents are only two examples. Lawyers who handle lawsuits involving car accidents see these kinds of things every day. Fortunately, personal injury lawyers are on the side of the victim. It’s our job to fight the insurance companies in order to get you every penny you deserve.
One thing for victims and their families to keep in mind is the importance of not attempting to handle the case without consulting with a personal injury lawyer. Property damage claims are one thing, but if you have an injury claim, you will need a car accident lawyer.
The insurance company will try a variety of underhanded tactics in an effort to avoid paying the claim, but your lawyer will protect you and/or family from any unethical and invalid claims by the insurance company.
Our firm handles many of these types of cases on a regular basis. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 1-877-405-4313.