Why do I need a lawyer?
Unfortunately, when you are in an accident that is not your fault, many people (or their insurance company) will not take responsibility for their mistakes and do the right thing. Insurance companies are in business to make money. The longer it holds onto its money, the more it can make off of investing the money.
Thus, insurance companies like Allstate and State Farm routinely attempt to refuse to compensate victims, or offer them much less than what is right and fair. Insurance companies also know this: most people don’t know what legal rights they have, how much their injuries are worth, and how to settle for a fair amount. Many times, insurance companies are not opposed to take advantage of victims, and offer only the lowest possible settlement.
Consider the case in Missouri where State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is likely to be punished with punitive damages for unethical conduct. As reported in Daily Record and the Kansas City Daily News-Press – In 2000 Linda Grewell and James Kephart crashed their cars. After swapping insurance info they discovered they both were covered by State Farm.
Each insured was assigned their own claims consultant. Neressa Wilkins first found Grewell 20 percent at fault for the accident but changed the determination – for reasons unknown at this point – to 50 percent liability after Kephart was found 50 percent at fault and his claims adjuster assigned Grewell with an equal amount of blame.
Grewell’s attorney Bruce Brown said the case was a minor personal injury claim, but when the insurance adjuster changed her mind for no apparent reason, he got curious and started asking for claims documents. State Farm refused saying the files were a work product.
In 2003 the Missouri Supreme Court held that insurance claims file are analogous to the file of a client held by an attorney. So people should be provided free and open access to that file.
Yet State Farm still said you can look at the file and take notes but we won’t give you a copy. So another lawsuit was filed and the Court ruled that a copy of the file had to be given to the insured and pay attorney’s fees.
The court of appeals said the insurance company breached its fiduciary duty to Grewell by denying access to the file and found there are facts in evidence to infer that State Farm had an evil motive and displayed reckless conduct.
For a more complete view of the case, see http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4181/is_20050519/ai_n14634113.
Unfortunately, that’s why we’re here. The experienced personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael L. Neff know how insurance companies operate. We’ve seen the “evil motive”. We know how to build a case and negotiate with insurance companies to obtain the relief you are entitled to. And if that doesn’t work, we have the experience and expertise to take your case to trial. We’re in a good position to help you obtain a settlement that far exceeds one you might obtain alone. You can’t count on the insurance companies to be fair.