Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Insurance Offer Three Days Post Crash

An Allstate Lawyer took my clients deposition last week.  My client was asked about who communicated with her after the crash.  Turns out that an Allstate adjuster called my client a couple of days post crash and offered her $500 for her injuries in exchange for closing out her claim.  My client has an injury that is going to last a lifetime.  The notion that an Allstate Adjuster would call her up a few days post crash and try to resolve her claim is offensive to me.  Here is a person involved in a big crash with serious injuries and Allstate is doing its best to screw the injured person over by resolving it quickly and for less than what the case is worth.

Lets pretend for a minute that my client is in a financial bind and $500 sounds pretty good.  They accept.  From that minute forward they are prevented from further compensation to pay medical bills.  What if my client needed a surgery and didn't have health insurance?  I can see a scenario where the client goes bankrupt on account of the medical expenses.  And all of this because of an Allstate "pop out" adjuster.

There are rules in place that prevent lawyers from communicating with injured persons post crash.  There should be a similar rule for insurance companies.  I might be ok with a rule that allows Allstate to pay 500 bucks up front but preserves the right of the injured party to re-open the claim at any point within the statute of limitations, but allowing unfettered communication to an unrepresented party by a sophisticated insurance company is absurd. 

Nobody ever hears about this stuff and it happens on a daily basis.

Lawyer Rant & Advertising Material by Brian Dettman www.louisville-injury-lawyer.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Legal Inefficiency and Pro Bono Lawyering

Every once in a while somebody calls me with a criminal case and asks me to defend them.  Three years ago I stopped taking criminal defense cases, but a few months ago a hockey friend called and asked for help.  He was in the passenger back seat of a car that was stopped for illegal tint.  There was a stolen gun without a magazine under the front passenger seat.  There wasn't anyone in the front passenger seat, but the driver of the vehicle had the matching magazine in his jacket pocket.  Let me repeat that, the driver had the MATCHING GUN MAGAZINE IN HIS POCKET.  The driver denied it was his gun so the cops arrested everyone in the car and charged them with possession of a stolen gun.   The penalty for this is one to five years.  

As a prosecutor you never really think about the fact that defendants need to hire a lawyer.  If I was charging a stranger to defend this case my fee would be $10,000.00.  Catch is my friend doesn't have that type of money.  I'm not writing this because I'm a martyr, but this is a case that needs to be prosecuted against the driver with the magazine.  Its an interesting inefficiency because I can see why they don't want to let my guy out, but at the same time its not a case I would want to prosecute if I was on the other side.  One would hope the driver with the gun in his pocket (who was subsequently picked up on another stolen gun charge) takes this and lets everyone move forward.  We shall see.  If not I'll try it.

Side Note: the arresting officer looks like he belongs in the Sabotage Beastie Boys music video.  Amazing mustache.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Allstate Insurance, Again.

I'm headed to Court this morning because Allstate Insurance has decided they want to try to go around the law.  The Kentucky Supreme Court (KYSCT) decided in Adams v. State Farm (Aaron Murphy argued this case.  He is brilliant.) that an insurance company, when questioning personal injury protection benefits, is allowed to question their insured about the facts of an accident.  All of the medical bills and medical records are submitted to the insurance company for review of treatment.  In making the Adams ruling the KYSCT held that the insurance companies don't get to question about medical treatment/bills.  This makes sense because injured parties aren't medical professionals.  The reason this is important is that nobody remembers whether or not the massage therapist six months ago at the physical therapy clinic massaged them for twelve minutes or fifteen minutes.  In the past insurance companies were allowed to question about injuries/treatment which inevitably led to their clever lawyers trying to trick my clients and make a big issue out of something a lay person stated about medical treatment or something innocuous like whether or not an ultrasound was provided (I had one case where my client thought it was pregnancy ultrasound).  The KYSCT held that if there are questions about medicine that the law provides the insurance companies a means to investigate.  The means is an "independent" medical examination.  The problem from the insurance companies perspective is that the doctors performing these "independent" medical examinations are expensive and that the insurance company also has to prove to the court (aka hire lawyers) to show there is "good cause." This costs the insurance companies money and is more expensive than what they are currently trying to do.

Side note: I've spoken to my clients medical providers and they are willing to answer Allstate's questions about treatment.  Allstate refuses.  I've also had my clients in this case go over all of their medical bills and records.  They did so and submitted an affidavit to the court stating they received the medical treatment submitted to Allstate.  Nonetheless, Allstate won't hassling my clients.

What is really happening behind the scenes is defense lawyers are trying to strum up business and save insurance companies money they ought to pay out.  The way to do that is to hassle insureds and hope they will find a plaintiff's lawyer that won't fight them; or a judge that will allow them to disregard the law.  The worst part is that the insurance companies are fighting their own insureds and attempting to stick them with thousands in medical bills.  The way the insurance companies do this is to sensationalize their pleadings.  This particular insurance company has a lawyer (who I really like) that alleges Allstate has a duty to investigate fraud and that because they have a duty he must put my client through ANOTHER deposition (he already asked about what happened in the wreck).  The issue is that the insurance company lawyer puts nothing of substance in his pleadings.  It is all hunches and speculation.  The law requires fraud to be plead with specificity.  As a result my response is always put your money where your mouth is show us the proof.   I have hunches and speculations about whether or not Allstate insurance underpays minorities on bodily injury claims, but I don't get to put in a pleading and have a judge grant me depositions based on theories.  The issue we run into is that when a judge hears fraud they get understandably apprehensive about not granting the insurance company requests.

I think we can all agree that fraud is something that should be investigated.  The question is by who....should it be insurance companies and their lawyers trying to make a buck?  Or should it be the government authorities?  As a former prosecutor, I believe it should be the latter.

The request Allstate has made today is really on account of my clients traveling twenty minutes to get to a chiropractor for treatment.  My clients are hardworking, responsible people who already told Allstate under sworn statement that they decided to drive twenty minutes for treatment because a family member recommended the chiropractor.  I've driven an hour and a half to doctors in Cincinnati for treatment, but twenty minutes is too much for Allstate.  Its absurd and from my perspective really dishonorable corporate behavior from Allstate.  My guess is some MBA decided this is good corporate policy from a financial standpoint.  It's not good policy for their insureds.

Lets see what the Judge does.