• Chris Marshall

Four reasons why you lost your personal injury case

An entire segment of the law industry is devoted to ‘insurance defense.’ Attorneys working in this field are the hired guns brought on by insurance companies to defend against personal injury, employment discrimination and other claims made by plaintiffs. Insurance defense lawyers are good at their job and if you have a claim you will need to be prepared.

Here are four of the most common reasons why your claim (or case) didn’t go as planned:

No Representation

When you decide to hire a personal injury attorney, one of the first things they will do is have you sign a letter of representation. This document will be distributed to the various parties involved in the claim and will direct all of them to contact your attorney for information rather than you. This is really important. Until that time, you will be called, emailed or even visited directly by insurance adjusters and representatives. What you say can hurt you. 

It is important to be honest, but it is equally as important to understand the motivation of insurance adjusters or investigators. They are not employed to help you discover the details about your own case. They are on the insurance company payroll because they are experts at poking holes in stories, finding inconsistencies and creating doubt about a case.

Expect to be contacted very quickly after an accident or claim. They are hoping that you have not yet signed an engagement agreement lawyer and that you will potentially spoil your own case. This is listed as the first thing on the list because it is the most important. Nearly all injury attorneys work on a ‘no fee unless you win’ basis so there is little reason not to associate with a reputable attorney sooner than later. 

Talked Too Much

There is literally almost nothing that you can personally say to an insurance adjuster or investigator that will help your case. At the very least, they won’t hear it that way anyway. Insurance representatives are involved in your case because they are looking to discredit your claim. The easiest and cheapest way for them to do this is to have you ruin your own case by talking too much. Here are some basics to keep in mind:

  • The insurance companies record every single phone call related to your case, whether incoming or outgoing. They are hoping you will say the wrong thing on tape.

  • Insurance investigators will monitor your publicly visible social media throughout the entirety of your case in an attempt to find inconsistencies.

  • You may be required to have a doctor’s visit with the insurance company’s preferred medical provider - be polite, honest and brief with your answers.

  • Don’t minimize your injuries because you feel like it shows a lack of toughness or grit.  

  • Speculation and misstatements are bad news and you should stick to facts only.

Insufficient Documentation

At some point before the two-year personal injury statute of limitations your personal injury attorney will prepare and submit a demand packet to your insurance company. The demand packet will include medical bills, evidence from your accident, legal arguments and other paperwork necessary to succeeding in court. Your attorney is going to want absolutely everything related to your injury so that the strongest possible case can be made. 

This demand packet is often submitted near the end of the two-year statute of limitations. Attorneys often delay this as long as possible so that we can discover the entirety of the long term effects of the injury. If you have a broken leg that seems simple it might heal in 3-6 months. You may find however that you are putting additional pressure on your other leg because of the injury and that you now have a new knee problem as a result. Tell your doctor about every possible ache and pain related to the injury and make sure they write it down. If it doesn’t get written down by a medical professional in a report then it basically didn’t happen. We have seen massive financial swings in cases because of one or two sentences mentioned in an otherwise regular medical checkup appointment.

Contributory Negligence

If you ask personal injury attorneys what the “best” kind of P.I. case is you will get similar answers. They are looking for an injured person who had no fault in causing the accident. Waiting at a red light and getting rear ended by a drunk driver, while horrifying, is a good example. 

On the other hand, last year in California there was a case filed where two drunk fraternity brothers were shooting BB guns at each other. One of them was seriously injured (of course) and sued the other. His ability to win in a lawsuit was severely limited because of contributory negligence. This is the concept that if something is partially your fault, you are not entitled to a full recovery. 

Most personal injury situations fall in between these two examples and it is important to talk with a thoughtful attorney about your specific case. Don’t think that because you feel you are partially at fault that you don’t have a case. Good lawyers know how to calculate and balance contributory negligence and can provide valuable guidance.

If you have been hurt and want to see if you might have a case call Christopher Marshall Law at (858) 964-2324.


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