Insurance companies are happy to settle your claim for much less than it’s worth. Don’t be fooled and don’t cash that check (yet).
You’re on the way to work when, suddenly, a teenager texting on his phone doesn’t see the giant red light in front of him until after the BMW his parents bought him slams into your work truck. Your arm is broken. Your back is killing you. You can’t turn your head. And your means of earning a living (your truck!) have just been destroyed in a matter of seconds. This day is not going well.
The police show up. By some miracle, you’re able to get the rich kid’s insurance information. You’re carted away in an ambulance to the hospital to make sure that you don’t have any internal injuries or bleeding. Your wife calls the general contractor to let him know that his electrician won’t be coming into work today. Now what?
You call the kid’s insurance company. They give you a claim number. They send you all of this paperwork to sign including asking you to provide your written version of events. They might send you a check or they might tell you that they cannot process your claim until they get your signature on the documents that they have sent you first.
STOP RIGHT THERE. Rule #1: Never sign anything for an insurance company before speaking to a Denver personal injury attorney first. BUT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NEVER SIGN A RELEASE OF LIABILITY OR FILL OUT “YOUR VERSION OF EVENTS” FOR THE OTHER GUY’S INSURANCE COMPANY OR YOUR OWN INSURANCE COMPANY FOR THAT MATTER.
You see, the trick that insurance companies will often try to pull is to send you a check for the property portion of your claim along with a nominal sum for the bodily injury portion of your claim with language that says, “by accepting this check, you agree to waive any and all claims against our insured.” Or they’ll try to force you into making a statement before they’ll even write you a check.
You’re desperate. You’re not an employee with sick leave; you’re an independent contractor. If you don’t have a work truck, you don’t work. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. Desperate, you just want to do whatever it takes to get the money you need to replace your truck. SLOW DOWN.
First of all, the third party insurance company is likely to accept liability and give you a rental car allowance for a truck that is similar to yours. Of course, it’s not ideal and you’ve gotta be more careful loading and unloading your gear into the rental truck than you normally would, but if you insist on working, you’ll at least have a truck. (This assumes that your tools weren’t destroyed on the way to work as well and that you can work with that cast on your arm.)
Second, the insurance company is NOT going to pay you the full value of your truck. For instance, right now as I write this post, a 2011 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD Extended Cab with a V8 Turbo Diesel (6.6L), 2WD from a dealer costs between 27,000 and 29,000 dollars on Kelly Blue Book.
Now, everybody knows that this is a scam. Case in point: I go to AutoTrader.com (who owns Kelly Blue Book) and type in the same exact specs as above and the cheapest Chevy Silverado 3500 HD that I can buy is priced at $31,000.00 all the way up to $43,000.00.
Unfortunately, if you owe more than the “truck is worth,” you’re not only going to be stuck with paying the difference every month, but you are not going to be able to replace the truck for anything near what the insurance company is going to pay you. In other words, you are not likely to get any more out of your property claim than what the Kelly Blue Book value is showing.
Most Denver personal injury attorneys are not going to push this point too much with the insurance companies. Not because they don’t care about the loss you’re taking. But because they know that the Kelly Blue Book value is going to hold up in court and in front of a jury (if it goes that far) and that his/her energies as a personal injury lawyer are better spent pursuing your bodily injury claim where there is more wiggle room in terms of value.
If you’re reading this now and you have NOT been in a car accident AND you are still paying your car off, stop and call car your auto financing company or your insurance company to inquire about GAP insurance which is an insurance policy that covers you for the difference between the “market value” of your car and the actual amount you still owe on the car in the event of an accident. I think it’s worth it. Just be sure to shop around first and get a policy that makes sense for your situation.
However, if you are reading this and you’re going through a seemingly endless nightmare dealing with the insurance company over just getting paid what’s fair, call Denver personal injury attorney Jeffry Dougan at 303-704-1222. It’s FREE. You’ll be glad you did.
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