We are often contacted by injury victims after they have dealt with the auto insurance adjuster for the party at fault and have been unsuccessful in negotiating a settlement because they realize the amount being offered is ridiculously low, or they are told things they are suspicious about whether they are true or not.
Auto Insurance Adjuster Example
For example, we recently talked to a 43-year-old lady who was dealing with an insurance company on her 17-year-old daughter’s personal injury claim from an auto accident in which her daughter suffered a fracture of the spine at the C4-C5 level. The fracture did not result in paralysis but she was nevertheless left with a permanent impairment.
In the course of discussing the claim with the insurance adjuster, our new client, who has now retained our firm, was told three separate and distinct misrepresentations by the auto insurance adjuster.
Specifically, the auto insurance adjuster told the 43-year-old mother that her minor child has a two-year-limitation period running from the day of the accident. The mother was aware that the two-year limitation period for a minor does not run from the accident, but instead runs from the time when the minor turns 18 years of age. Nevertheless, the auto insurance company insisted to our new client that, no, the limitation period expired within two years from the day of the accident and was thus pressuring her to settle the case as that two-year limitation period was approaching within two months. The fact of the matter is a minor’s limitation period in Alberta does not begin to run until the minor turns 18 years of age.
Secondly, the auto insurance adjuster told the mother that she did not need a lawyer. We classify this as a misrepresentation because the auto insurance adjuster, as a professionally trained auto adjuster, knows that her daughter’s claim with a fractured spine is a very serious and complex medical legal claim and that as an individual who works in a grocery store this mother and her daughter were completely incapable of determining what is a fair amount for settlement. Therefore, to tell someone with a serious claim like this (as our new client put it: “it’s not like my daughter broke her finger”), that she does not need a lawyer is misleading.
Finally, even more disturbingly, the auto insurance adjuster told our new client that when it comes to settling the amount it is all determined by legislation and it’s just a matter of determining the type of injury and then looking up the dollar amount. This is not the case at all for an injury claim which is based in negligence. The amount that a court awards is very much determined based upon the existing case law or precedents where you have to research and find similar injuries to the present case and then determine what judges awarded in those cases to arrive at a fair settlement amount. Even doing this you never find two injuries that are exactly the same and so a legal opinion must be obtained from an experienced injury lawyer to determine the distinction between the cases and whether the amount should be increased or decreased based upon the precedent.
Furthermore, determining a long-term future loss of income claim for a young woman is a complex exercise requiring numerous medical, legal, occupational therapy, and vocational experts to all consult and produce various opinions which are then analyzed by the injury lawyer who then requests a professional economist to prepare a report detailing the future loss of income claim, which ends up being a 40 page complex economic report. All of this is extremely difficult even for a lawyer to deal with who has been dealing with it for many, many years, let alone a person who has never dealt with a claim before.
Therefore, for the auto insurance company to say that the amount is determined just through legislation like “pigeon holing” the injury and that is what you get, is again misleading to an injury victim.
Handel Law Firm is a personal injury and fatal accident law firm serving all of Alberta with offices in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer. Contact our lawyers today for your personal injury and fatal accident cases in Alberta.