If you are injured in an auto accident in Mississippi, the at-fault driver’s insurance company typically will handle the defense of the claim. Insurance companies routinely engage in a range of strategies that are designed to discourage injury victims. The objective of the insurer is to persuade an injury victim to abandon the claim or accept a lowball settlement. Insurance companies rely on a number of strategies that are effective against individuals who do not understand their legal rights and who do not have an experienced Mississippi personal injury attorney advocating for their interests. Said tactics are as follows:
- Blaming the Injury Victim: Insurance companies routinely blame the plaintiff for causing the accident. This allegation might amount to an attempt to shift blame entirely to the injury victim or to contend that the plaintiff was partially responsible for causing the collision. While the injury victim might allege that he or she was T-boned by the other driver in an intersection, for example, the insurance company might argue that its insured had right of way. Because Mississippi is a “pure comparative negligence” state, the insurance company can reduce the amount of damages paid to an injury victim based on the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff. However, the comparative fault of the plaintiff will not bar recovery as long as the defendant is also at-fault.
- Stalling Settlement to Impose Financial Distress: Insurance adjusters recognize that injury victims face significant financial pressure from mounting medical bills and time off work. Because an injury victim’s mortgage payments, auto payments, and other living expenses do not disappear following a serious car accident, families often experience increasing financial pressure the longer a personal injury claim drags on without resolution. The insurance company facing an unrepresented injury victim might bury a plaintiff in discovery requests and motions to force the plaintiff to settle for less than the value of the claim. The insurance company has deep pockets and increases its profits by keeping the money that would be paid out invested and earning a return. In other words, delay hurts an injury victim while benefiting the insurance company.
- Reliance on Lack of Knowledge of Deadlines and Procedures: The legal process is governed by many technical evidentiary, procedural and substantive rules and standards. Insurance companies recognize that a party without legal representation has virtually no chance to navigate all of these rules without a critical misstep. Deadlines alone can pose a serious challenge for an unrepresented party. The statute of limitations requires a plaintiff to file a complaint within a certain period to avoid having his or her claim permanently barred. Since there is no “hardship exception” to the statute of limitations, failure to comply with this deadline will usually be a permanent bar to recovery regardless of the merits of the claim.
- Reliance on Pre-Existing Medical Conditions: When liability of the insurance company’s insured is fairly obvious, the insurer will scour medical records for evidence of a pre-existing condition that might be blamed for any serious long-term disability or chronic pain. The insurance company might ask an injury victim to sign a medical release in an attempt to obtain evidence to dispute whether a serious injury was caused by the accident.
These are just a few strategies that insurance companies use to reduce the amount they pay when settling a car accident claim. These tactics are much less effective against individuals represented by an experienced Mississippi personal injury attorney who will be familiar with these strategies and appropriate countermeasures. If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto collision, the compassionate and knowledgeable Mississippi auto accident accident lawyers at Porter & Malouf, P.A. are here to help. Call our office today at (601) 957-1173 to schedule your free initial consultation.