A famous United States Supreme Court case demonstrates the difficulties that people can have in dealing with insurance companies. In State Farm v. Campbell, Campbell caused a car accident that killed one person and permanently disabled another. State Farm was his automobile insurance carrier. Despite offers to settle from the family of the people Campbell injured, State Farm refused to settle for the policy limit of $50,000.
The company ignored its investigators’ advice and took the case to trial. Campbell had considered getting his own lawyer, but State Farm assured him that it would defend his best interests and that he would have no liability. At trial, Campbell ending up losing and the jury returned a judgment of nearly $200,000. State Farm at first refused to cover the amount over the $50,000 policy limit. A State Farm lawyer told Campbell he might want to put up “for sale” signs on his house to get things going.
Campbell consequently joined the victims’ family and sued State Farm for its bad faith acts. A Utah state jury awarded Campbell and the others $2.6 million in compensatory damages and $145 million in punitive damages. The US Supreme Court described the insurance company’s conduct as “reprehensible”. A Lufkin injury lawyer can help you fight for your rights if you have had difficulties with an insurance company following an accident or claim.
Guidelines to Deal with the Opposing Side’s Insurance Company
- The first guideline that you should remember is, if you have an attorney, simply direct the opposing insurance company to speak with your attorney. Let him or her handle all communications with the other side.
- Remember that the other side’s goal is to pay you as little as it can to make the problem go away. A settlement that the opposing insurance company offers you that seems reasonable may not in fact be reasonable. Consult with an experienced attorney before accepting it because acceptance may limit your legal options down the line.
- Avoid speaking with an opposing insurance company’s representatives, particularly their insurance adjustors. Though they may appear nice, remember that they do not work for you. They work for the insurance company, which is trying to minimize its costs. What you say to an insurance adjustor for the other side can significantly impact your case. Insurance adjustors usually record your statements too.
- Get all statements and agreements that the other side’s insurance company makes to you in writing. For example, in a car accident, there are typically many hoops to jump through for the other insurance company to authorize repairs. It has to find a car shop of which it approves, and it has to ensure that the work is cost effective. In some states, the company cannot force you to take your car to a specific shop. An experienced attorney can advise what your rights are.
- Do not give up hope if the other insurance company refuses to pay. The person at-fault may have told his or her company that you were the person to blame for the accident. Insurance companies use this as a tactic to avoid paying claims. They know that they can continue to drag their feet as long as you do not have a lawyer.