Disability Appeal

San Diego Personal Injury Attorney: What You Can Do if the Insurance Company Becomes Difficult to Work With?

If you have ever had to file a claim with your insurance company or the carrier for someone who has injured you, you’ve experienced the tactics that the insurance industry uses to force you to accept lowball settlement offers or to deny claims.

In a new article on our law firm website, San Diego, CA personal injury attorney tells you what you can do if the insurance company becomes difficult to work with.

Answers to Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Car Accident Questions

Q: What can I do if the insurance company becomes difficult to work with?

A: Even in cases where liability is straight forward, insurance companies regularly try the same tactics as when liability is contested.  They try to deny your claim, delay your claim, confuse you, or refuse you.  This is not a shock.  All lawyers for injured people know this and so do the state agencies, like the California Department of Insurance, who regulate the insurance industry.  Unfortunately, the DOI which is intended to be the watchdog for the insurance industry in California does not seem to care or have the will to address these tactics.

The American Association for Justice issued a report, “Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse and Refuse” which gives injured people some guidance and tips how to deal with the insurance companies.  To summarize, the Report provides the following tips:

  • Know What is Covered:  If you are making a claim to your own insurance company, know what types of coverage are contained in the insurance policy and how to go about appealing a denial.
  • Complete All Information Carefully:  A mistake, no matter how honest or trivial, can result in a denial.
  • Avoid Cashing a Premium Refund Check:  When your insurer decides to cancel your insurance coverage, one way it may do so is to send you a refund check for the premiums you have paid.  When you cash this check, it is saying that you agree to your insurance carrier canceling your coverage.
  • Put Everything in Writing:  Save all written correspondence and bills from the insurance company.
  • Contact the California Department of Insurance, if Necessary:  The DOI cannot represent you in a private complaint against your insurance company, but reporting the complaint may initiate a government investigation that leads to results.

If you follow these tips and the insurance company is still being difficult, you may want to consider consulting with an attorney who will be able to represent you against your insurance company.

Don’t Leave the Photos to the Insurance Company (and Their Photoshop Artists!)

Often times, people who have had their car damaged in an auto accident do not take pictures of their property damage, instead of leaving it to the insurance company (either theirs or the at-fault driver’s) to document.

Do not fall into this trap!

It is always important to maintain control over any and all evidence that will help your case. The reason why is because you do not want to risk the possibility that the insurance company, in an effort to dampen the evidence against their insured, will use a photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop to alter pictures of your vehicle thereby giving the impression that the traffic collision was not so severe.

Photoshop is a program that can not only reduce shadows, alter colors, but it can also distort images through elongation and airbrushing. Here is an example from an Ann Taylor catalog where the website retouched the photo to make the model look thinner:

If trained professionals can reduce the diameter of a woman’s stomach, torso, and legs, what do you think they can do to that dent in your car’s bumper? Photoshop is a very useful tool in the hands of the insurance company to make small, but significant collisions seem as if no property damage was incurred.

Now, the Courts are realizing that today’s digital images are not the old photographs of old–they can be altered on the fly and very easily. Recently in the criminal case People v. Khaled, the appellate court ruled that a red light traffic ticket must be overturned due to a conviction based upon unsubstantiated photographs taken by a camera at an intersection. The Court ruled that where the prosecution failed to lay the foundation for the photographs by submitting testimony establishing when and how the photographs were taken and that they were not altered. The Court ruled that the hearsay rule will exclude the evidence barring testimony laying out this foundation.

It is good that the courts are finally starting to recognize the ease to which photographic images can be altered and that the old business records exception to the hearsay rule cannot by itself allow for the introduction of photographs into evidence. However, what this should mean to you and to any other member of the public, is that it is better not to even give the insurance company an opportunity to alter photographs of your vehicle. The only way to do so is to make sure that you have taken pictures of your car so that you can keep the insurance company honest.