How Long Will My Car Accident Case Take? Answers from a NY & PA Car Accident Lawyer

Don't let insurance adjusters mislead you about the comparative negligence rule in New York State.

Immediately seek medical assistance and consult an attorney after a car accident.

Jessica Whitton, a freelance writer and paralegal, has written a good summary of the major steps in a personal injury lawsuit.

Before I summarize what she wrote, I want to point out one important factor:

Time is of the essence in IMMEDIATELY consulting a lawyer. There are many insurance companies who are training their employees to immediately contact an injured person with hopes that the can get that injured person to sign off on their claims before that person has a chance to learn the true severity of their injuries or the full extent of their possible claims.

Many times, these claims adjusters will mislead the vulnerable injured person, and accordingly, it is critically important that an injured person hire a lawyer to protect their interests.

Please remember the time for bringing a negligence claim in New York state is three years and two years in Pennsylvania.

Here is Jessica’s step-by-step approach to understanding the typical steps in a personal-injury lawsuit:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Immediately. Go to your doctor or closest hospital and get checked out. Immediately. As Jessica points out, it will give you an edge if your insurance company tries to prove that there was no injury and an immediate hospital visit shows the jury you were hurt.
  • Talk To A Lawyer: Call or email me if you have an accident, 24 hours a day, seven days a week: (607) 733-8866 or [email protected].  If I am not immediately available, I will get back to you ASAP.
  • Commencement Of Investigations: Starts immediately after your lawyer agrees to accept your case. Make sure to provide all pertinent information and be honest about the accident and your medical condition to avoid surprises in the courtroom.
  • Attorney Files An Insurance Claim: Jessica correctly writes that most personal injury cases get settled out of court but to be safe and well-prepared, at ZiffLaw we assume every case will go to trial. We have learned that if you are ready to go to trial, you have substantial leverage to achieve the best results for our clients.  In car accident cases, we submit a comprehensive settlement package to the at-fault driver’s insurance company detailing important information about your claim:  your injuries, lost wages, medical treatment, and any permanent limitations.
  • Attorney Files A Lawsuit: If the insurance company does not settle your claim out of court, your attorney may see no other option than to file a lawsuit.
  • Discovery: The plaintiff and defendant investigate one another using the documents and evidence submitted.
  • Mediation: Following the completion of discovery and before trial, the parties may agree to mediate the case with a trained mediator who attempts to broker a mutually acceptable settlement.
  • Trial: All parties are present as the jury hears the evidence in the case. Most car crash trials are relatively short– 3-4 days– but some more complex cases can take weeks or even months.

At ZiffLaw, we do everything in our power to keep our cases moving as quickly as possible.  With that said, we will not rush any case as we know achieving maximum recovery for our clients often requires us to do things the hard way, not the easy and fast way.  We truly believe our willingness to go the extra mile distinguishes us from other lawyers who are willing to accept an easy and fast settlement rather than do the hard work necessary to get the very best result.

Thanks for reading! Leave me a message below if you have any questions.

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Does Your Car Insurance Carrier Penalize You When You Were Not At Fault?

accident-frustration1

The Consumer Federation of America recently released new research that shows that safe drivers often see car insurance increases when they are involved in accidents  caused by other drivers.

car_insuranceAccording to the news release, in this new trend, some insurance carriers are penalizing their own customers when their customer did nothing wrong. It used to be that if you were involved in a collision that was not your fault, your own insurance company would not raise your rates. Makes perfect sense. Why should you be penalized when you did nothing wrong?

However, recently, a number of insurance companies decided to increase their profits by hitting their customers with significantly increased premiums when they had the misfortune to be involved in a crash that was not their fault. Two of the biggest New York carriers, Progressive and GEICO, were among the worst offenders of this new policy.

imagesInnocent drivers who don’t cause accidents should not be charged more because someone else hit them, J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and the former insurance commissioner of Texas, said in the news release. “Most people know that if they cause an accident or get a ticket they could face a premium increase, but they don’t expect to be punished if a reckless driver careens into them.”

CFA urged lawmakers around the country to prohibit penalties on innocent drivers. “Penalizing safe drivers hit by another car is not only very unfair; it also discourages them from filing legitimate claims,” Hunter said. “Lawmakers and regulators need to protect consumers from being punished when they’ve done nothing more than use the policy they have already paid for.”

CFA compared two good drivers – the only differences reflected in their socio-economic circumstances rather than their driving records – and found the following:

  • Higher-income drivers paid $78 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers paid $208 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Higher-income drivers faced a 6.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers faced a 9.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Excluding State Farm customers, who were never penalized, the average surcharges jumped to $99 (8.3%) for higher-income drivers and $264 (12.1%) for moderate-income drivers.

My suggestion: Contact your insurance agent and ask if your carrier has a policy of increasing premiums in not-at-fault crashes?

If so, I recommend you contact other insurance carriers as there are many carriers who do not increase premiums in this situation.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


Doctors Struggle To Curb Patients Who Pose Serious Danger To Other Drivers On The Road, Says NY and PA Medical Malpractice Lawyer

539w

Doctors face a daunting challenge when they are treating a patient who is impaired or has a disability that makes that patient an unsafe driver.

the-information-age-has-enabled-doctors-to-view-patient-data-on-laptops-_1508_608708_0_14091474_500Many doctors will want to get the patients’ keys away from them quickly and without incident, but they have to take great care not to breach that patient’s confidentiality.

Doctors shouldn’t notify the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles without talking with the patient, and with the patient’s permission, notify their family and the DMV, unless the patient has already done so.

Those are some of the key conclusions discussed in a story in the Spring 2016 Dateline newsletter published by the Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co.

According to Donnaline Richmond, counsel to the company, doctors need to document every step they take to protect themselves and their employer.

Doctors know patients will rarely do what’s required and report a disabling condition to the DMV, Richmond said. So doctors need to inform and warn patients of the risk of their medical condition – and fully document those warnings.

According to Richmond, among the steps doctors should document:

  • How medication or a medical condition make it unsafe for the patient to drive.
  • All attempts to communicate doctors’ concerns to the patients and their families, and their attempts to gain consent from patients.
  • All DMV paperwork completed for the patient, once the doctor has the patient’s written authorization.
  • All phone records from calls to patients and their family members regarding the patients’ inability to drive.
  • Patients’ written authorization to release medical information.
  • Reports to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, if it applies.

Thanks for reading.

Christina Sonsire
[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tracy Morgan Accident Puts Spotlight On Fatigued Truckers Who Pose Real Danger To Other Drivers, Says NY and PA Truck Accident Lawsuit Lawyer

Actor Tracy Morgan is recovering in a New Jersey hospital after almost being killed in a highway accident involving a tractor-trailer.

Actor Tracy Morgan is recovering in a New Jersey hospital after almost being killed in a highway accident involving a tractor-trailer.

The tragic June 7 accident that critically injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan has led to a renewed focus on the danger on our highways from fatigued truck drivers working too many hours without taking a break.

A friend of Morgan’s was killed when a Walmart tractor-trailer driven by Kevin Roper rear-ended Morgan’s Mercedes limousine at 1 a.m. June 7 on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan is now in fair condition in a New Jersey hospital.

The truck driver, charged with Vehicular Manslaughter By Operating A Vehicle Recklessly and Recklessly Causing Serious Bodily Injury, remains free on $50,000 bail. Prosecutors claim Roper went more than 24 hours without sleep before the fatal wreck. The Jonesboro, Ga., man pleaded innocent last week to the charges in the crash.

In a recent Law Talk segment on WETM-TV News at Noon, I talked about the accident and the charges faced by the truck driver.

Q&A 1Question: Who is held responsible when a truck driver is driving for a company?

Answer: The driver and the owner of the truck are both responsible. The driver has the responsibility of driving safely, and if he is not safe, he can be held liable.

If the truck driver works for Walmart and is operating the truck in the course of his employment, then the company is responsible, too.

In this case, there is an allegation that the driver had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the crash. That would be a major violation of federal trucking regulations.

Federal regulations are very specific. Drivers are not supposed to operate a truck for more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period, and after those 11 hours, they are supposed to rest for at least 10 hours. They cannot drive more than 70 hours in a week.

The truck driver is also supposed to list the hours he spends on the road in a log book in his truck. There are many log requirements, but I know from handling many truck accident cases that often the log books are incomplete, and in some cases, falsified.

Sen. Schumer is calling for tougher monitoring of truck drivers.

Sen. Schumer is calling for tougher monitoring of truck drivers.

Drivers are trying to get in more hauls because they get paid by the number of miles they travel and so often, we see truck drivers who have broken the law.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, called for “black boxes” (electronic logging devices) in trucks yesterday so trucker hours can be monitored. He cited some startling statistics: 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 injured in accidents involving trucks, and 13 percent of serious accidents are cause by trucker fatigue.

Schumer also wants the federal Department of Transportation to study, and if necessary, increase the insurance coverage level that truck companies are required to cover so victims of accidents receive the compensation and coverage they deserve, he said.

As a lawyer who has handled many tractor trailer cases in N.Y. and PA, I strongly support Senator Schumer’s call for great safety action.

To submit a legal question you’d like answered here on one of our Ziff Law blogs, please send an email to me at [email protected]

Thanks for reading, and remember when you are sharing the road with tractor-trailers, use extreme caution.

Jim
_________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

 

 


Buckle Up Or Else! Twin Tiers Police Officers Join National Crackdown! Be Smart And Use Seat Belt At All Times, Says NY and PA Car Accident Lawyer

http://youtu.be/2jfUTIYHMvY

Police agencies across the nation — including the Twin Tiers — have launched a two-week “Click It or Ticket” high-visibility seat-belt enforcement drive this week, and are reminding motorists to wear seat belts on every trip, day or night.

Buckling up every time you get in a vehicle isn’t just important this month, or because you might get a ticket, but because it saves lives and prevents serious injuries.

We see the results of A LOT of car crashes – take it from us – you are much less likely to be seriously injured in a crash if you are wearing your seat belt. Otherwise, be prepared to meet your windshield face to face at 60 mph. 

0007H“We know seat belts save lives, and while we’re encouraged that national seat belt use is at an all-time high, we won’t stop our efforts until all motorists make the simple yet safe choice to buckle up on every trip,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “If you’re not buckled up, you’ll be ticketed.”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show that the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 12,174 lives in 2012. Seat belts have saved nearly 63,000 lives during the five-year-period from 2008 to 2012, according to an NHTSA news release.

Nationwide, seat belt use was at a record high of 87 percent in 2013. However, nighttime seat belt use continues to lag behind daytime use. More motorists who are killed in crashes at night are unrestrained at the time of the crashes (61 percent) than those killed in crashes during the day (43 percent), the news release said.

This year’s campaign includes the “Fake-A-Rooney” advertisement (above) that airs nationally through May 26. The advertisement conveys the message that driving without a seat belt is not a joking matter, and officers take seat-belt violations seriously and will issue a ticket if you’re caught without being buckled.

There are no acceptable excuses or exceptions. Always wear a seat belt!

Thanks for reading,

Adam
__________________________________________

Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY  14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: [email protected]

 

 


PA Traffic Deaths Down In 2013, But Could Be Much Better, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer

1599R-19050Great news for Pennsylvania drivers — traffic deaths on roads in the Keystone State were at an all-time low in 2013, state officials have reported here and here.

Motorists could achieve another all-time low in 2014, too, if everyone could take their responsibility to drive safely more seriously. The major causes of the fatalities are largely within our control and preventable – seat belt use, speeding, DUI, distracted driving and single vehicle crashes – often from falling asleep or inattentiveness.

Don’t drive if you haven’t had enough sleep, if you’ve been drinking alcohol, or you can’t put your phone down long enough to drive safely to your destination.

The total of 1,208 fatalities in 2013 was down from 1,310 the previous year and was the lowest number since traffic records began being logged in 1928.

By the numbers:

Deaths were down:

  • Among those not wearing seat belts (425, down from 503 the previous year).
  • Speeding accidents (193, down from 262).
  • Single-vehicle crashes (566, down from 648).
  • DUI-related fatalities dropped to 342, down 35 from the prior year and the lowest total since 1977, when the state started keeping records of drunken-driving deaths.

More fatalities were linked to:

  • Distracted driving (64, up from 57).
  • Head-on collisions or sideswipes (178, up from 148).
  • Drivers 75 years old and older (142, up from 126).

Don’t relax and think Pennsylvania roads are safer. Accident records go up and down year to year. Just do your part to make the roads safer. Be alert, be sober and be vigilant. Watch for pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists and any other danger in the road, such as potholes.

Never let your guard down when you are driving.

Thanks for reading,

Adam
__________________________________________

Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY  14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: [email protected]

 


Q&A: Don’t Let Insurance Companies Twist State Law After Motor Vehicle Crashes, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer

Don't let insurance adjusters mislead you about the comparative negligence rule in New York State.

Don’t let insurance adjusters mislead you about the comparative negligence rule in New York State.

Welcome to the newest feature on our Ziff Law blogs, Questions & Answers.

If you have legal questions, we will try to provide answers here.

Q&A 1While we will answer questions about personal injury, medical malpractice and divorce law, our primary practice areas, we will also be glad to talk about car/motorcycle/truck insurance, medical bills, lost wages, property damage and any legal issue in the news.

If we can’t answer your question, we will refer you to a lawyer with expertise in that particular area.

Submit your questions by email to [email protected]

Today’s question is from a Twin Tiers resident who received misleading information from an insurance adjuster after a minor car accident.

Question: I was in a car accident yesterday evening. A woman failed to stop at a stop sign and pulled out in front of me, and I struck her vehicle on the front driver side.

I just spoke with my insurance adjuster and she indicated that New York State has a shared responsibility law, or something like that, and that the insurance adjusters determine who was at fault and how much fault each party has.

signThe officer at the scene indicated the woman driving the other vehicle was clearly at fault because she failed to stop at the stop sign and pulled out in front of me.

Why should I have to share responsibility in this accident? There was nothing I could do to avoid the accident. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but I still feel that since she was fully responsible for the accident, her insurance should pay for the repairs to my vehicle.

Why should I have to pay the deductible out of my pocket through my insurance and claim this on my insurance if I was not at fault?

Does New York State really have such a law of shared responsibility, even if one driver is clearly at fault?

Answer: N.Y. does have a comparative negligence rule, which basically means that each party is responsible for their percentage of fault. For instance, if the other driver was 100 percent at fault, the other driver is 100 percent responsible for all damages.

Jim Reed

Jim Reed

On the other hand, if a judge or jury determines that the other driver was 80 percent at fault and you were 20 percent at fault, the other driver (and their insurance company) would only have to pay 80 percent of your damages.

Because New York State is what is called a “pure” comparative negligence state, you can collect from the other driver in direct ratio to their percent of fault, even if they are less than 50 percent responsible. (However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, so I recommend consulting with a lawyer.)

This comparative negligence law makes sense and is logical, but the way in which the insurance carriers often try to apply this law to cases is horrible. Even in cases of absolutely clear liability, where the other driver is 100 percent at fault, the carriers will often try to claim that you were 20 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent at fault, and will refuse to pay 100 percent of your property damage. I have had them do this in rear-ender cases, drunken driving cases, and other clear cases, and they are betting that most people just want to get their property damage check and will not fight them on this.

My advice is to NOT let insurance companies get away with this nonsense. Go talk to a lawyer and see if they can help you with the insurance carrier. Sometimes just the threat of a possible lawsuit over the property damage or personal injury claim is enough to have the carriers not jerk you around regarding the property damage claim.

Depending on the amount of your property damage, you can also take the other driver to Small Claims Court, suing them for 100 percent of the damage they caused.

And finally, you can (and should) file a complaint with the New York State Department of Financial Services (used to be called the N.Y. Insurance Department) about the insurance company’s dirty tactics.

File a complaint here.

Good luck and I wish you the best in fighting the good fight!

Jim
_________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

You Have Legal Questions, We Have Answers! Welcome To The New Q&A Feature On Our Blogs

Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Welcome to the newest feature on our Ziff Law blogs, Q & A.

While we will answer questions about personal injury, medical malpractice and divorce law, our primary practice areas, we will also be glad to talk about car/motorcycle/truck insurance, medical bills, lost wages, property damage and any legal issue in the news.

If we aren’t able to answer your question, we will refer you to a lawyer with expertise in that particular area.

Submit your questions by email to [email protected]

Our first question is adapted from my Feb. 12 appearance on “Law Talk,” a segment during the WETM News at Noon. In “Law Talk,” the Ziff Law lawyers talk about legal issues that come up with events in the news at about 12:20 p.m. Wednesdays.

Q: A Steuben County woman was recently sentenced to three years’ probation and 200 hours of community service in connection with a teenage drinking party that ended in the death of a 16-year-old boy, who was struck and killed by a tractor trailer. The mother was charged with first-degree Unlawfully Dealing With A Child and two counts of Endangering The Welfare Of A Child because police said she attended the party with her teenage daughter and provided alcohol to the children. The boy’s family said the sentence was too light. In general, how do courts decide sentencing in a case like this?

Q&A 1A: Unlawfully Dealing With A Child means you are providing alcohol to someone under 21 years old. It is a Class A misdemeanor that carries with it a sentence of up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine. The mother in this case received just probation and community service.

Given the fact that the sentence could have been up to a year in jail, many people may wonder, what happened?

Well, in sentencing, the judge gets a report from the county probation department called a Pre-Sentence Investigation (often called a PSI). The PSI reveals a lot of information about the defendant, including whether they have a past criminal record, and it goes into some of the circumstances in that person’s life.  The PSI also describes the victim of the crime and any damages suffered by the victim.

The judge reviews the report and he has a wide range of discretion to impose a sentence. It this case it could have been anything from probation to up to a year in jail. We call that “judicial discretion.”

There is also “prosecutorial discretion”, where prosecutors have a wide range of options on the charges. In this case, the prosecutor could have considered going for a felony, Criminally Negligent Homicide; that’s where the defendant is criminally negligent causing the death of another person. There is also a second-degree Manslaughter charge, where the defendant recklessly causes the death of another person. That is a higher-level felony.

There are a wide range of things that can happen in these types of cases.

People have to understand that when there are intoxicated minors, the consequences can be very, very serious.

People can go to jail for a long time, so my best advice is: never provide alcohol to minors!

Please appreciate that while we are happy to try to provide you some basic legal information, doing so does NOT create an attorney/client relationship (unless you formally retain us to represent you). The information provided is general information and should NOT be considered legal advice. Also appreciate that in order to give definitive legal answers, it is critically important that a lawyer meet with you to get all the necessary details to provide a definitive answer so we encourage you to review the information we are providing with your own lawyer.

Thanks for reading!

Jim
_________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


NY and PA Accident Lawyer: Do You Have Enough Car Insurance?

Be sure to check your car insurance policy to be sure you have enough coverage in case you have an accident.

The recent fight between Progressive Insurance and the family of a Progressive customer who was killed in a car accident has drivers everywhere dusting off their insurance policies, wondering whether they have enough insurance.  It is a great question to ask yourself and I generally recommend that most people carry at least $250,000 of both liability AND SUM (under-insured) coverage.

In a recent New York Times Your Money column,“How To Know If You Have Enough Car Insurance,” columnist Ron Lieber looked at drivers’ options from a financial vs. safety standpoint. His question to readers: Do you want to gamble on an inexpensive policy and leave yourself open to staggering bills from a car accident?

To refresh your memory, Matt Fisher, whose sister Katie was killed in a car accident, wrote in a blog post that Katie’s insurance company (Progressive) was defending the other driver in court in hopes of not having to pay a settlement to Katie’s family. The blog post went viral. We wrote about the Fishers’ story here.

Progressive tried to convince a jury that Katie Fisher caused the accident, but it lost and will now have to pay the claim and a settlement.

According to a new report in the Insurance Journal, consumers’ perception of Progressive is at its lowest point in four years after getting rightly trounced in the news media and court of public opinion.

In the Times article, the columnist challenged under-insured drivers to weigh the cost of buying better coverage vs. gambling that they will never have an accident. That’s a dangerous gamble.

Here is how the columnist laid out the options:

“It’s worth looking at a couple of areas where vulnerability can be particularly high: liability insurance (in case you hurt or kill someone else) and the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that was at stake in the Fisher case. Then, we can see what our odds are of needing to make a claim and how comfortable we are making bets accordingly.”

He continues:

“The odds of running into people with no insurance at all to pay for your claims against them are probably higher than you think. The Insurance Research Council’s most recent estimate, from 2009, is that 13.8 percent of all United States drivers have no insurance at all.

“ISO, an insurance risk information service, estimates that about 20 percent of people who do have insurance purchase just the minimum liability coverage in case they hurt someone else. Their policies may pay out as little as $25,000 in many states.”

I know we have written about the need for SUM (Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists) coverage MANY times but I keep beating the drum about the need for EVERYONE to check their car insurance policy to have this very important coverage because every day I continue to encounter folks who don’t have this coverage.

Just last week I met with a very nice and very bright local businessman who had $500,000 of liability coverage to protect others should he have an accident, but only $25,000 to protect himself or his family in that very same accident. Needless to say, he was shocked to learn that his insurance coverage was so deficient but happy to learn that he could buy the SUM coverage he needed for less than $10 a month.

So PLEASE dig out your insurance policy and check your coverage.  If you are unsure if you have the proper types of coverage and the right amounts of coverage, feel free to email me the declaration pages listing your coverages and I will be happy to let you know what I think.  You many email me at [email protected]  Of course there is no fee for this review– I just want to make sure folks get the coverage they need.

If you find you don’t have enough coverage, contact your insurance company and invest more in your future, if necessary, to protect you and your family in the event of an accident.

For drivers in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers — thanks for reading, and stay safe!

Thanks, Jim

_________________________________
James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Report: Insurance Companies Cheat Many Consumers With ‘Lowball’ Claims Payments!

Download the new report about how insurance giants are "lowballing" accident claim payments.

The Consumer Federation of America issued a new report this month that says the nation’s largest insurance companies use computerized claims systems that can be easily “adjusted” to make “lowball” claim payments to many injured consumers, resulting in payments that are smaller than consumers are entitled to according to their insurance policies!

The primary author of the report is a former longtime insurance executive and an expert on insurance claims’ practices.

This is just another example of the big insurance companies robbing the very people who pay their hard-earned money to have coverage when they need it!

You can read the full report here.

Mark Romano, the Claims Project Director for the Consumer Federation of America, said he hopes the report will be a “wake-up call for consumers and regulators” about Colossus, the dominant claims systems in the marketplace, which is sold by Computer Sciences Corp.

“When CSC and its competitors talk publicly about computer-based claims systems, they stress that the programs allow insurers to more consistently evaluate bodily injury claims,” Romano told the Consumer Federation of America. “Consistency is a legitimate goal, but these companies tell a different story behind closed doors. Software marketing representatives acknowledge that the real reason insurance companies are willing to invest millions in these systems is that they can dial down claims payments to thousands of consumers at a time, regardless of whether these payouts are fair.”

According to the federation, the report also identifies specific techniques that insurers can use to directly and indirectly produce “lowball” claims:

  • Directly reduce payments by a predetermined amount across the board, without determining whether this will lead to unjustifiably low payments for individual claims.
  • Selectively remove higher-cost claims from data used to determine the acceptable range of payments for particular injuries. This has the effect of lowering payments for all claims of this type.
  • Require insurance adjusters without medical training or credentials to second-guess medical professionals by altering injury determinations, thus dictating lower payments for certain injuries.
  • Encourage adjusters to downplay or even ignore the likelihood that injured consumers will need future medical treatment or will be permanently impaired, thus lowering payouts.
  • Encourage adjusters to determine that drivers are partly at fault for the auto accident that injured them, even when they may not be.

All drivers should download a copy of the report and keep it handy in case they ever have an accident. Know your insurance policy and your rights. Read your policy and be vigilant if you ever have an accident.  Educated consumers may be the best defense against these despicable practices!

For drivers in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers — thanks for reading, and stay safe!

Thanks, Jim

_________________________________
James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com