A book is about to be published, over Allstate Insurance Company’s objections, entitled “From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves – How Allstate Changed Casualty Insurance in America.” This new book criticizing the insurance carrier is written by author David Berardinelli of New Mexico, who is a plaintiff’s lawyer. He and his co-author allege that Allstate started a policy in the early 1990s to “deliver either prompt payment or fair payment, but not both.” Allstate would either make people accept a low payout early or face agressive efforts to fight any recovery regardless of the merit of the case.
The description of this insurer in this book dovetails with my experience as a plaintiff’ lawyer over the last 18 years. Frequently, insurance companies will try to get an injured person to settle the case immediately following a car wreck before he even knows what is wrong with him. Allstate and the other major companies control a huge percentage of the auto insurance market. They frequently try to do whatever they can to prevent people involved in a car crash from going to see an attorney. Sometimes the insurers do this by being nice to the injured person. Other times, they do it by bullying and pressuring the injured person.
I strongly encourage anyone who is in an accident to contact an attorney early on. An attorney can tell you lots of things you need to know to make sure that you are not forced to take a lowball offer and that you get fair compensation for your case. One thing an attorney can explain is your right to get the medical help you need through your own health insurance company paying the bills, using your own medical payments coverage on your auto insurance policy, or going to a doctor who will treat you on credit waiting for the outcome of your case. If the client waits too long to get in the hands of a good doctor, then Allstate and the other insurers will say that there is a “gap in treatment.” The idea is if your injury was so bad, you would have seen a doctor more quickly or more consistently. In addition to avoiding this problem, getting good medical help early after an automobile crash injury will help you get better faster. The chiropractors, doctors and therapists are the real “good hands” people, not the insurers.
An attorney can also let you know that you have a certain period of time in which to bring your claim. There is no need to rush out and settle your case before you know the extent of your injury. Obviously, you do not want to settle a case for peanuts one day and then find out later you need a surgery from that car accident. In that event, the Allstates of the world will just tell you sorry, you already signed the release papers.
You should also contact an attorney to balance the power against all of the lawyers and experts working for the insurers. By having an expert on your side, you make sure that you will get justice for your injury. Most attorneys will talk to you for free as an initial consultation to see whether you have the kind of personal injury case they can help with. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not owe us anything for our time until we get a result for you.