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Do I Really Need a Lawyer?- The Insurance Adjuster Told Me How This Works

My wife, who is typically my worst juror or best devil’s advocate on cases, was appalled to hear about some of my more recent clients and how the insurance company was treating them. She said, “Well you never hear about those type cases in the news or on TV!”

I laughed and then felt overwhelmed with sadness because I realized that is very true and if most people knew or were privy to the things I experience on a daily basis they would:

  1. A) Call the South Carolina Department of Insuranceand ask how that is legal for an insurance company to do and then file a claim;
  2. B) Contact their state legislative representativeand/or congressional representativesseeking change, reform, or answers;
  3. C) Contact local media organizations (WYFF Channel 4WSPA Channel 7,  FOX CAROLINA)  asking them to do an “investigative analysis” to run on prime time; but then and more importantly;
  4. D) They would forget all about it and move on to another issue or concern because we are a fickle public almost immune to shocking news of being swindled out of our morality, justice, and legal rights.

Yet, I continue to see it every day and when I report it to the SC Department of Insurance I am crying wolf. When I blog about it or talk to friends, family, enemies, or strangers about it, they discount my opinion due to the obvious bias of my position as an advocate for the injured, harmed, and disenfranchised.

However, once an attorney gets wind or retains a client with one of “those cases” most times they are settled with the insurance company paying all the money available on the claim. However, that doesn’t mean the insurance company pays lots of money QUICKLY. Or in return doesn’t try to divert the injured party away from sound advice that is on their side versus working against them.  (See my article entitled: Would You Take Advice from the Devil on How to Get to Heaven?: Insurance Company Lies).  Insurance companies make money by keeping it out of the injured party’s hand as long as they can while still investing the premiums their insureds pay them to protect against harms they cause others. (See my article entitled: How Do Insurance Companies Make Money?)

In all of the cases the injured party was being ignored, getting the silent treatment, or being talked down to like they were money hungry panhandlers looking for a handout from Big Daddy. When in fact the people that the insurance company insured were:

1) drunk driving behind the wheel and could have harmed anyone reading this;

2) were high on drugs with stolen merchandise in their trunk trying to get out of state before the police caught up with them and could have harmed anyone reading this;

3) traveling 20 mph or more over the speed limit through a busy intersection trying to get to their plane for a vacation to some tropical paradise and could have harmed anyone reading this;

4) had just left the strip club drunk and ran through a stop sign striking a client working their second job to provide for a family and could have…….

I know, I know bad things happen and you just have to deal with it. Well, that is true but insurance (health and auto now) is mandated by state and federal laws so everyone has to have some form of it. Thus, when insurance companies come into pay and should be reimbursing the injured party for the wrongs, harms, loses, and injuries their insured has caused another innocent party that s*&& doesn’t always work the way it is suppose to. Insurance companies deny, delay, and defend money from injured parties. Wake the f*& up people. WTFU!

Why do you think I am in that trial in front of a jury? It’s not to take money from that poor person that just had an accident and I am trying to take their home. Or some business made a simple mistake and I am trying to close down someone’s American Dream. Really!? It’s to get that person’s insurance company to pay a reasonable amount to my client. 

If you have “one of those cases” give us a call and at least run it by someone first before you walk like a cow to slaughter down that line to sign a check for little bit over your out of pocket medical bills thinking that is all you are entitled to because that is what the insurance adjuster told you. When you do that you are forever and ever releasing the insurance company from any wrongs their insured caused you for the rest of your life. If nothing else remember this, “It’s not what the insurance adjuster says that matters, it’s what they pay.”

Give us a call at 1-800-483-0880 or 864-231-7171 and visit us online at Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC or I85lawyers.com

 

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Don’t Listen to Insurance Adjusters or Friends When It Comes to Legal Advice

You have just been involved in a traumatic incident of some kind and now your world is turned upside down. You never planned on being:

  • injured;
  • unable to work;
  • permanently disfigured;
  • without an avenue for medical treatment;
  • no knowledge on how to get out of the hole someone, something, or some event has put you into; or
  • what steps to take to get back before your world stopped.

The next thing you do is communicate with family, friends, and/or co-workers. They know someone, read something, saw it on the Internet, watched “Judge Judy”,  or have a “friend” themselves that has been through the exact same thing and this is what you …….STOP THE MADNESS!

It’s great to have loved ones and I am sure they want nothing but the best for you but I don’t claim to know everything about everything. I hire real estate agents to move property and tax advisers (Patterson Tax Service) to do my taxes even though I have had Real Estate and Tax classes in law school (which means I know enough to be dangerous to myself, or absolutely nothing).

My common saying is, “You don’t listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven, so why listen to an insurance adjuster on how to settle a claim against them?”  They are going to lie, or mislead you. You don’t go to your opponent in the middle of the game and ask them how to beat them do you? NO! Stop listening to what an adjuster says about your claim. Talk to an attorney. You at least have recourse against an attorney if they give you incorrect legal advice. (You could have recourse against an adjuster but it is hard to prove).

Likewise, stop listening to your friends give you “arm chair” legal direction on your case. Go talk to a lawyer. It is free to consult with a lawyer on most civil cases and no fee is received by the lawyer unless a settlement is negotiated or trial verdict rendered. Tell me who else you know works 100% on performance pay? Defense attorneys and insurance adjusters work hourly or salary and may get some kind of bonus based on performance but I would imagine 75% of their income will come to them regardless of how well they perform.

I work 100% on performance and get close to 70% of my business from word of mouth based on clients, friends, family members, colleagues, and other professionals that are familiar with our firm’s performance. Seek out the help you need from the right professionals rather than receiving the wrong information. You may not hear what you like but at least it will be an honest, experienced, and informed response looking out for YOUR BEST INTEREST.

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South Carolina Property Arbitration: Your Weapon Against Insurance Adjusters

If insurance companies didn’t frustrate people over their property damage from a motor vehicle collision (that wasn’t their fault to being with), what good would they be doing the legal profession? I would estimate that sixty (60%) percent of clients we see are infuriated by the way the at fault driver’s insurance company has treated them on the evaluation and reimbursement of their mangled vehicle.

Consumers, you have options! Stop believing everything the insurance adjuster tells you to be the gospel truth. Start using the vast information at your finger tips and motivating these insurance companies to treat you fairly. Attorneys in South Carolina can not take contingency fees on property damage recovery amounts and insurance companies use this to their advantage by trying to strong arm you.

If you receive property damage from a motor vehicle collision in the State of South Carolina then you should be able to recover several things:

  1. the fair market valueof your vehicle if it is a total loss;
  2. the repairof your vehicle to its pre-collision state (if not a total loss);
  3. rental caor
  4. loss of use= $25.00 a day for every day you were unable to use your vehicle or not provided a rental;
  5. depreciationfor your vehicle now being worth less than it was before the collision as a result of having after market parts and being labeled as having been in a collision.

Of course they won’t. Insurance companies don’t make money giving it away. They make money paying you less than your claim is worth and thus maximizing their reserves and net income. What? They know they can tell you things that aren’t true because you really won’t do anything about it anyway. Or will you? Now that you understand what the law in South Carolina says and that they are obviously breaking the laws after all you have had to go through. Will you do something now?

YOU HAVE TWO CHOICES:

  1. Take the value they are trying to force feed you after some negotiation with knowing what you need to ask for and be done with it;
  2. File a Property Arbitrationclaim with the Clerk of Court in the county the collision happened or defendant lives. It routinely only costs five ($5.00) dollars. That’s it.

How do I do that?  Great question. Plus, insurance companies hate having to come explain themselves for trying to low ball you in front of the arbitration panel, which consists of three (3) lawyers in the county you filed. Most times you can get more negotiating done after you forward a copy of the arbitration to the adjuster you were working with.

I have posted the an excerpt below and highlighted important points for those too lazy to read the whole thing.

START FIGHTING BACK AND STOP TAKING IT ON THE CHIN FROM THOSE GREEDY INSURANCE COMPANIES 

 


SOUTH CAROLINA CODE OF LAWS

ARTICLE 7.

 

ARBITRATION OF PROPERTY DAMAGE LIABILITY CLAIMS

SECTION 38-77-710. Appointment of attorneys as arbitrators to hear and determine property damage liability claims; process and procedure.

The court of common pleas, or any inferior courts having concurrent jurisdiction, in and for each county, shall by order of reference appoint an attorney or attorneys to hear and determine, by arbitration, property damage liability claims arising out of motor vehicle collisions or accidents and to award actual and punitive damagesThis order must be consistent with the provisions of this chapter and may not be inconsistent with the Rules of the Supreme Court of South Carolina. Process and procedure must be as summary and simple as may be reasonable and may provide for the taking of evidence in the form of reports, statements, or itemized bills or in any other manner without the procedural and evidentiary limitations which pertain in jury trials. The court may provide for the taking of depositions of a witness within or without the State.

HISTORY: Former 1976 Code Section 56-11-510 [1962 Code Section 47-750.135; 1974 (58) 2718] recodified as Section 38-77-710 by 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1.

SECTION 38-77-720. Number, qualifications, and compensation of arbitrators; fee paid by claimant.

(a) The order of reference shall establish a panel of arbitrators each of whom must be a member of the bar and the members must be selected for service in particular cases on some fair rotation basis. Three arbitrators shall hear and determine each case and the decision of two of the three arbitrators shall determine the issue. However, the parties to the dispute may, by agreement, provide for determination of the disputed claim by one arbitrator.

(b) Each arbitrator assigned to determine the claim may be compensated, not to exceed thirty-five dollars for his services and time, payable out of the funds of the court and which may not be taxable as costs to either party.

(c) The claimant who is the moving party in seeking arbitration shall pay to the clerk of court a fee of ten dollars. Five dollars must be retained by the clerk as the cost of filing the claim and final judgment and five dollars must be used to pay the cost of service on the other party or parties.

HISTORY: Former 1976 Code Section 56-11-520 [1962 Code Section 46-750.136; 1974 (58) 2718] recodified as Section 38-77-720 by 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1.

SECTION 38-77-730. Request for arbitration; no formal pleading and process; arbitration docket; filing of claim; service of summons to defendant.

(a) Any person who is a party to the disputed property damage liability claim may submit his claim for determination through arbitration. No formal pleading or process is required. The clerk of court of each county shall prepare and keep an arbitration docket and set the cases thereon for arbitration as provided by law for the settling of cases in the court of common pleas.

(b) The claim must be filed with the clerk of court in the county in which the cause of action arose or where the plaintiff or defendant resides. The claim must be filed in triplicate with the clerk of court on forms to be provided by him. The forms shall set forth the names of the parties, the date and place of the accident, and the amount of property damage claimed. The clerk shall file one copy in his office, and one copy must be served upon the defendant as provided by law for service of summons and complaints. The sheriff, or such other person, shall promptly serve the claim upon the defendant and shall receive the sum of five dollars to defray the cost of securing this service. The sheriff, or such other person, serving the process shall promptly file an affidavit of personal service with the clerk of court on forms to be provided by the clerk.

(c) There must be attached to, or made part of, the form a summons to the defendant named notifying him that he should file a response with the clerk of court within thirty days from the date of service and that failure to file a response within thirty days entitles the plaintiff to a default judgment. The form must be signed by the party filing it or his attorney, if any, and shall by order of reference show the address of the person signing it.

HISTORY: Former 1976 Code Section 56-11-530 [1962 Code Section 46-750.137; 1974 (58) 2718] recodified as Section 38-77-730 by 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1.

SECTION 38-77-740. Hearing; notice to parties; damages to be awarded; securing attendance of witnesses.

(a) The court, or the clerk acting for the court, shall assign the arbitrators to hear the matter at the courthouse, or other designated place in the county where the claim is filed, within sixty days after the date of filing, or as soon thereafter as is feasible. The clerk of court shall, on a form provided by him, advise the parties or their attorneys of record, if any, by mail as to the place, date, and time of hearing and shall advise the parties to bring all records which may pertain to the claim, including, but not limited to, the following:

(1) Two estimates of damage to the motor vehicle or its contents signed by the estimator.

(2) Signed receipts for car repairs.

(3) Bills or receipts for other property damages claimed.

The forms shall also contain notice to the parties that, if they cannot attend because of illness or otherwise, the clerk of court must be notified as soon as possible with the request that another date be set for the hearing.

(b) Property damages must be awarded as provided by law, including, but not limited to, actual damages, loss of use, depreciation, and any other property damages which are the direct and proximate result of the accident.

(c) The parties may secure the attendance of witnesses by their voluntary appearance or may secure their attendance by subpoenas prepared and issued in accordance with the laws of this State.

HISTORY: Former 1976 Code Section 56-11-540 [1962 Code Section 46-750.138; 1974 (58) 2718] recodified as Section 38-77-740 by 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1.

 

 

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Why Is the Insurance Adjuster Telling Me I Don’t Need a Lawyer?

New clients often convey to me that the insurance adjuster has told them they do not need an attorney to resolve their case. I always laugh at that statement because it reminds me of an analogy I use a good bit here in South Carolina:

Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why would you listen to an insurance adjuster about how to settle your claim AGAINST them?—Trey Mills

Of course the insurance adjuster that is employed by the insurance company that has to pay money out on an insurance claim would try and contain the amount of money that is paid out on claims. Do you think adjusters are given raises and/or bonuses at the end of the year for paying out lots of money on claims or for keeping payouts on claims low? That’s right your interest in resolving the claim and their interest in resolving claim are at opposite ends. The insurance adjuster does not have your best interest in mind.

When you hire an attorney on a contingency fee basis, meaning a percentage of the settlement amount-most commonly 33.33% or 1/3, your interest are aligned with the attorney’s interest. At the most basic level your interest and the attorney’s interest are symbiotic because of the mutual benefit in resolving for a higher value. However, if an attorney just works for money and doesn’t want to build upon a relationship with having you as a client to brag about them to your circle of influence, that attorney’s success will be limited.

Remember insurance adjusters cannot provide you with legal advice. All they can do is better their interest and the interest of their employer (insurance company) by saving money.  If they are saving money, then you are losing money. It’s just that simple.

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Collateral Source Rule: Why Your Personal Injury Settlement is Not Valued on Co-Pays

Inevitably I will have clients that  make the poor decision to try and work things out with the at fault party’s insurance adjuster, thinking the at fault insurance company would “do the right thing.”

As I have written in the past on “How Do Insurance Companies Make Money?” & since copyrighted my favorite quote:

“Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why do you listen to insurance companies on how to settle claims against them?” –Trey Mills

Having only practiced close to seven (7) years doing 100% personal injury,  it is hard not to be cynical and disbelieving of anything insurance companies do or say. As an attorney I am held to a higher standard legally and ethically but for some reason the insurance adjuster can dispense false “legal advice” with no consequences. Most times what you say, can not be proven. Always ask for what the insurance adjusters tell you in writing.

Therefore, when the insurance company offers to pay your medical bills at what you paid in co-pays or reduced costs because you are fortunate to have health or supplemental insurance THEY ARE TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU.

In South Carolina the law states: The collateral source rule provides “that compensation received by an injured party from a source wholly independent of the wrongdoer will not reduce the damages owed by the wrongdoer.” Citizens and S. Natl. Bank of South Carolina v. Gregory, 320 S.C. 90, 92, 463 S.E.2d 317, 318 (1995).  A tortfeasor (at fault party) cannot “take advantage of a contract between an injured party and a third person, no matter whether the source of the funds received is `an insurance company, an employer, a family member, or other source.’” Pustaver v. Gooden, 350 S.C. 409, 413, 566 S.E.2d 199, 201 (Ct.App.2002) (citations omitted).

Stop being scammed by the insurance companies and start seeking out legal advice from lawyers. It costs you nothing to sit down and talk with most personal injury lawyers about your issues. Yes, if they take the case it will most times be taken on a contingency fee basis whereby they receive a percentage of the settlement they achieve for you. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Do yourself a favor and ask these two questions before you settle your insurance claim:

  1. Would you rather have someone working for you, ie attorney, or someone working against you, ie insuranceadjuster?
  2. Do you think the insurance adjuster gets paid a bonus and/or receives a raise at the end of the year for paying out more money on claims, or paying out less money in claims?

To ensure the value of your settlement is reasonable and commensurate with your losses and harms, or damages, please consult with a personal injury attorney. You can contact us or find out more about us on Facebook.

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