Uninsured Motorist Claim Settles for Limits (But First the Insurer Tried to Get Away with Less)
This case was one of the more unusual insurance claims I’ve encountered. Our client came to us after he’d already settled his Pennsylvania uninsured motorist claim. That’s right, we didn’t get the case until after the Pennsylvania insurance settlement; after the insurance company had issued their check; and after our client had cashed the check. Still, we were able to help him and I’ll explain how. But first, this note of warning: We do NOT recommend waiting until after your settlement to seek counsel from a lawyer. Most times, the story won’t end as well as this one did.
The Accident and Injuries
The car accident and our client’s injuries can be quickly addressed in summary fashion because the details aren’t important. Our client was a passenger in a car and the driver carelessly caused a one car accident. Our client’s injuries were severe (he incurred over $80,000 in medical bills and $10,000 in lost wages), but fortunately they were not permanently disabling.
The Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The driver had no insurance and no assets. So, our client’s only source of recovery was his own Pennsylvania Uninsured Motorist Coverage (“UM Coverage”) that he’d purchased for his own vehicle. He had $100,000 in UM coverage.
How the Case Should Have Been Handled (If We’d Been Involved at the Beginning)
Had our client come to us at the outset, I probably would have told him something like this: “Your case is obviously worth the full amount of your coverage. It’s not even close. You shouldn’t require a lawyer (or a lawyer’s fee) to get what you deserve in this case. So, instead of hiring me now, you should give your insurance company your medical records, medical bills, and wage loss info — and then tell them that you’d like the full amount of your coverage, please. They should pay you the full amount. If they won’t pay you the full amount, come see me and I’ll take care of it.”*
What Happened to Our Client Because He Didn’t Get a Lawyer’s Advice
But our client didn’t come to us at the outset. Instead, he negotiated with his insurance company on his own. Guess what? His own insurance company told him that his case wasn’t worth the full $100,000. They had all sorts of reasons why. None of those reasons were valid, but our client didn’t know that. Ultimately, he agreed to accept what they offered him, even though it was way less than what the case was worth.
Our client’s insurance company issued the settlement check (for far less than the case was worth). The insurance company mailed the check to him. Our client cashed the check. And there the case might have ended, with no one the wiser about the dirty little trick that the insurance company had pulled — but for a lucky dispute with an out-of-state medical provider.
Our client came to us only because he had a dispute with an out-of-state medical provider over the amount of one of his bills. As we were digging into the facts of the case to help him with the medical bill dispute, we uncovered the bigger injustice that his own insurance company had committed.
We were worried, of course, that the settlement agreement and check would bar our client from pursuing the rest of his policy. But we suspected that we could find a way past this problem, we did our research, and we found a way.
We resolved the medical bill dispute and, even more importantly, got him the rest of his Pennsylvania car insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage. It didn’t take long. His insurance company didn’t immediately cave in. They put up a token defense. But within a few months, we had them rolling over and paying the rest of the policy limits as they should have at the outset.
Despite their reassuring advertising campaigns, you absolutely cannot trust insurance companies to look out for your best interests — not even your own insurance company. Erie injury lawyers and Pennsylvania insurance claim lawyers offer free consultations, almost universally. Before you attempt to resolve a Pennsylvania uninsured motorist insurance claim (or any other Pennsylvania injury case), you should at least accept the benefit of one free consultation with an experienced Erie insurance claim lawyer. In fact, we recommend that you take the time to visit with at least a couple of lawyers to size up the one you think is right for you.
In our experience, most Pennsylvania injury cases require the help of a good Erie injury lawyer to get the full value from the case. But not all cases necessarily require the assistance of a lawyer. A good lawyer should tell you when you can handle the case yourself.
We Will Help
If you’d like a free consultation with one of our experienced Pennsylvania insurance claim lawyers, call today 814-273-2010 or toll free 814-273-2010. We will be pleased to give you an honest and detailed review of your case and offer you our best advice.
*The advice would have been more detailed than this (it would have included information about the unpaid medical bills, for example), but for brevity’s sake we’ve boiled it down to the essentials in this case review.
Awarded: $100,000 (Policy Limits)