Are You Up Against One of the Top Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America? Find Out from this San Diego, CA Personal Injury Attorney

Ever wonder how your insurance company stacks up against others? Ever wonder how the insurance company for the other driver or property owner will act following an auto accident or slip and fall accident? Will they treat you fair or will they lowball you and play hardball?

In a free report issued by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) entitled, “The Top Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America”, the AAJ reveals how insurance companies put profits over people and policyholders. As the report reads, the insurance companies’ strategy is to “deny, delay, defend–do anything, in fact, to avoid paying claims.”

According to the report, the worst insurance companies in America are:

  1. Allstate
  2. Unum
  3. AIG
  4. State Farm
  5. Conseco
  6. WellPoint
  7. Farmers
  8. UnitedHealth
  9. Torchmark
  10. Liberty Mutual

These insurance companies insure and compensate for auto accidents, slip and fall accidents, life insurance claims, and health insurance claims. Allstate was named the worst insurance company in America–again–in a dubious honor that seems to repeat each and every single year. According to the report, Allstate heads the list because of “a combination of lowball offers and hardball litigation.” It is even reported that insurance adjustors are instructed by their supervisors to deceive claimants by lying.

If you are insured by one of these companies you should consider switching to a more reputable insurance carrier. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence and find one of these companies as the insurance company for the negligent person or company, hiring the best California personal injury attorney you can find may be your best strategy.

San Diego Injury Accident Lawyer Tells You to WAIT Before Accepting a Quick Settlement

If you have ever been injured in an accident, you may have experienced one of the new tactics that are being used by insurance companies to improve their bottom line at your expense: the quick, small offer to settle.

San Diego personal injury lawyer looks at this new tactic and cautions injury accident victims to be cautious when deciding “should I accept the insurance company’s offer” in this important article.

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

Q: I was just involved in an accident and the insurance company offered me $1,000 with the promise that they would also pay all my health care for the next three months.  Should I accept their offer?

A: You should never accept a settlement offer from the insurance company unless you are done with treatment or you know what the total cost of your medical care will be.

The insurance companies–most notably Progressive, Mercury, and Allstate–have adopted a new tactic in California to ensure that they reduce the amount of settlements they pay out:  They try to get to the injured person immediately and offer cash quickly and a promise to pay for medical care up to a certain amount of time.  These insurance companies hope that the injured person, who typically does not want to hire a lawyer or be involved in a lawsuit, will accept a paltry amount for their pain and suffering (usually $1,000 or so) and the promise to pay for the injured person’s health care for a limited amount of time.

Here is why you should not accept this offer: you do not know how injured you are within a few days of the accident.  Shortly after the accident, most people are sore and have limited range of movement.  These symptoms could be a simple soft tissue injury that will resolve in 4-8 weeks or it could easily just as be the symptoms for a more serious injury that requires surgery.  Unfortunately, you and your doctors won’t know until you have undergone a conservative health care plan for several weeks and until you typically undergo an MRI.

But, in addition to that reason, the paltry sum of money offered by the insurance company can really only be attributed to the value of your “pain and suffering” and inconvenience following the accident (since they are offering to pay for your health care too).  $1,000 for this damage is too small except for the most trivial and minor of accidents.  Don’t sell yourself short.

Before you settle a California personal injury claim, contact an experienced injury accident attorney to advise you whether you are making a good choice.

San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Talks About Types of Collectible Damages

If you have ever been injured in an accident, you know that you incur numerous costs and your bills can quickly run out of control. As a result, you may wonder what types of damages you may be entitled to as a result of the other person’s negligence and carelessness.

San Diego disability attorney answers this question for you and describes the types of damages available for accident victims in this important article.

What damages are you entitled to be compensated if you are injured in a California accident case? Find out here…

If you are involved in an accident and you are injured, you may be able to receive compensatory or punitive damages in your personal injury case.

Compensatory damages are intended to reimburse and compensate the injured victim for costs that have been incurred as a result of the accident or for losses which do not create a cost but are compensable nonetheless. Compensatory damages can be divided into two different kinds of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic compensatory damages are basically compensation for anything that has a measurable cost via a bill or invoice such as medical bills for past and future medical care, past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity, and damages to personal property. Non-economic damages are any compensable damage which does not have a bill or invoice such as physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, and loss of companionship and support. The goal of compensatory damages is to make the injury accident victim “whole” and to compensate for all losses.

Punitive damages are meant to deter future similar conduct by the defendant and to punish for egregious behavior. Typically these damages only are awarded in a small number of cases and only after there is a breach of contract or after a law is broken. Punitive damages are not awarded often and the State of California taxes punitive damages at a rate of 75%.

The majority of judgments and settlements only include money for compensatory damages.

San Diego Accident Attorney Talks About the Role of the Independent Medical Examiner

Who is the independent medical examiner? What is an independent medical examination (IME)?

The answer is that he is the primary witness against most personal injury victims and the IME is a time for the witness to meet, interrogate, and examine the victim in person–giving him more credibility at trial. San Diego injury lawyer answers this question for you and tells of the role of the independent medical examiner in litigation in this important article.

What is the “Independent Medical Examiner” and what is his role in your California injury accident case? He is the MAIN witness against you!

In most personal injury cases, the primary witness and weapon against the injury accident victim is the independent medical examiner. The word “independent” is misleading. It simply means this person, who is a doctor, is independent of the treating doctors for the victim. However, this person is employed and paid for by the insurance company of the wrongdoer whose negligence and carelessness caused the accident in the first place.

The independent medical examiner often examines the injured person at an independent medical examination (IME). The IME seems like a normal, everyday doctor’s examination but it is really a cross between a deposition and a physical and mental interrogation in which the independent medical examiner documents the record and tries to obtain as many “facts” as possible so that they can conclude that the injury accident victim is either not injured or not as injured as they claim.

Insurance companies hire independent medical examiners over and over again because they know what this witness will say about certain cases and they know that these witnesses will play ball and support the insurance company’s position at trial. It is not because the witness is any better of a doctor than the treating doctor. It is simply that the insurance company is hiring a doctor who will provide a predictable opinion.

Never attend an IME without an attorney or a medical witness such as a registered nurse (RN) who can observe and testify against the independent medical examiner at trial if the examiner attempts to perform an improper medical examination.

San Diego Injury Accident Lawyer Tells of Questionable Insurance Tactics that Harm People

An honest and efficient insurance industry is essential for people to manage risks and make sure that valid injury claims from serious accidents are paid quickly. Without a quick and legitimate way of receiving compensation, people do not receive the compensation they deserve when they need it.

Unfortunately, the insurance industry regularly uses questionable tactics to keep from paying legitimate claims. San Diego injury accident lawyer tells of the tactics used by the insurance industry in this news report.

Insurance Companies Try to Increase Profits Through Questionable Tactics

Posted on Dec 20, 2009

A new free report from the American Association for Justice (AAJ), “Tricks of the Trade:  How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse and Refuse”, tells how the insurance industry is increasingly using questionable tactics to increase their bottom lines at the expense of injured people and claimants.  This only harms the public who relies on an honest and efficient insurance system to compensate them for serious accidents.

The Report identifies the following common insurance company tricks:

  1. Denying Claims:  This is the most common tactic and is regularly employed by all insurance companies, including Allstate, State Farm, and USAA.  By denying valid claims, the insurance companies boost their profits because those are monies that will not be paid out.  Insurance companies have even been known to incentivize their employees to deny valid claims.
  2. Delaying until Death:  Insurance companies regularly delay claims in the hope that the claimant will die before the claim is paid or hoping that the injured person will give up or settle for less.  Many people do just that rather than stay the course.
  3. Confusing People:  You are not alone if you have ever been confused after reading your insurance contract.  They even confuse lawyers.  Insurance companies regularly use confusing agreements and language to discourage consumers.
  4. Discriminating by Credit Score:  Insurance companies determine premiums and insurance approvals based upon credit scores.  Lower scores pay higher premiums.
  5. Abandoning the Sick:  Insurance policy holders who are the most need of medical care are often targeted by the insurance companies and have their benefits cancelled to lower the amount of money paid out for health care.
  6. Cancelling for a Call:  Some people will call their insurance company to get a feel how filing a claim will affect their insurance coverage.  If the effect is too negative, they won’t file a claim.  However, just by making the call, the insured has essentially made a claim as far as the insurance company is concerned.  At renewal, the insurance company can use these phone inquiries to deny claims.

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.

Perhaps the Most Important Appellate Court Case for California Personal Injury Clients

On November 23, 2009, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District of California (which includes much of San Diego and Orange County) handed down an opinion which helped injured Californians seeking full compensation for injuries caused by others. The opinion, Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc., declined to follow the insurance industry’s argument that injured people can only collect monies for the reduced amount of their medical bills negotiated by their health insurance companies. The Court upheld the “collateral source rule” that a negligent person must pay for all the harm they caused–including the full amount of medical bills charged by the health care providers–and cannot obtain the benefit obtained by the injured person’s health insurance (the “collateral source”, i.e., a source of payment other than the negligent person.

The Howell case involved a car vs. truck accident where San Diego County resident Rebecca Howell was hit by a commercial truck owned by Hamilton Meats and driven by their employee. As a result of the auto wreck, Ms. Howell was admitted to the hospital and received subsequent treatment from her doctors in the total amount of over $189,000 which included a fusion of the vertebrae in her neck. At trial, Hamilton Meats admitted liability for causing the accident but disputed the amount of damages that Ms. Hamilton was seeking for compensation (this is very typical). After the trial, the Vista, CA jury awarded Ms. Howell nearly $690,000, including her $189,000 in medical bills.

After the rial, Hamilton Meat’s attorneys sought to reduce the amount of the verdict by arguing that the true amount of the medical bills was $59,000 and not $189,000 after her doctors agreed to accept reduced payments from Ms. Howell’s health insurance carrier. Typically, doctors will agree to a reduced payment from a health insurance company so that the total amount paid for care is not the face value of the bill. They do this for a variety of reasons, including having the benefit of being an approved doctor (and receiving a pipeline of patients) and receiving “in-kind” benefits such as equipment and supplies.

The trial court granted the reduction under a line of cases commonly known as Hanif/Nishihama. During the last five years, the insurance companies have convinced the trial courts that this line of cases allowed for post-trial reductions in jury verdicts despite the fact that the collateral source rule clearly stated that injured people can collect the full amount of their medical bills. The collateral source rule had been California law for nearly 40 years before the Howell decision was handed down earlier this week.

The Appellate Court decision reversed the Hanif/Nishihama rulings and clearly states that the collateral source rule is California law.

This is perhaps the most important ruling in favor of injured Californians in the last 5 or 10 years. The insurance companies had used Hanif/Nishihama to ratchet down settlement offers and to reduce jury verdicts. Now, with Howell, injury victims who had the foresight to obtain health insurance prior to their accident will not find themselves penalized for doing so in court.

Read the whole opinion.

We want to salute and thank the San Diego, CA personal injury lawyers who fought for this victory.

The Worst Insurance Companies

Which are the Top Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America and Are You Insured by One of Them? Read this Article to Find Out!

Ever wonder how your insurance company stacks up against others? Ever wonder how the insurance company for the other driver or property owner will act following an auto accident or slip and fall accident? Will they treat you fair or will they lowball you and play hardball?

In a free report issued by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) entitled, “The Top Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America”, the AAJ reveals how insurance companies put profits over people and policyholders. As the report reads, the insurance companies’ strategy is to “deny, delay, defend–do anything, in fact, to avoid paying claims.”

According to the report, the worst insurance companies in America are:

  1. Allstate
  2. Unum
  3. AIG
  4. State Farm
  5. Conseco
  6. WellPoint
  7. Farmers
  8. UnitedHealth
  9. Torchmark
  10. Liberty Mutual

These insurance companies insure and compensate for auto accidents, slip, and fall accidents, life insurance claims, and health insurance claims. Allstate was named the worst insurance company in America–again–in a dubious honor that seems to repeat each and every single year. According to the report, Allstate heads the list because of “a combination of lowball offers and hardball litigation.” It is even reported that insurance adjustors are instructed by their supervisors to deceive claimants by lying.

If you are insured by one of these companies you should consider switching to a more reputable insurance carrier. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence and find one of these companies as the insurance company for the negligent person or company, hiring the best California personal injury attorney you can find may be your best strategy.

Helpful Insurance Industry Information

Insurance Industry News Articles

  • Which are the Top Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America and Are You Insured by One of Them? Read this Article to Find Out!
    The American Association for Justice (AAJ) published a list of the ten worst insurance companies in America. Learn about the horrible things that your insurance company is doing before they do it to you.
  • Do Insurance Companies Not Treat People Fairly? Do They Have a Plan to Cheat People from Benefits They Deserve? This Report Says “Yes”!
    The American Association for Justice (AAJ) published this report telling how insurance companies have a consistent plan to deny insurance claims, delay the payment of claims, confuse people, and refuse to consider claims–all of which is intended to boost their profits at the expense of injured people.

Fair Insurance Settlements

The Insurance Company Seems to Be Nice and Wants to Help Me Get a Fair and Just Settlement. Should I Trust Them?

No.

If insurance companies were as giving and helpful as they sound, they would be out of business. Insurance companies train their adjusters to settle claims for as little money as possible while making you think you are getting a fair amount.

Unfortunately, many insurance companies routinely delay claims, knowing fully well that many policyholders will simply give up. In addition to this, they use several other tactics to make you settle with the lesser claim or even deny you. The bottom line is that insurance companies make money when they don’t pay claims and they will do anything to keep their profits high.

Contact a California Lawyer

The role of a personal injury attorney is to get you the money you need to get back on your feet, whether it is from your insurance company, your employer, etc.

If you or someone you love has been a victim of an accident in San Diego that was not your fault, you deserve to get compensation for your injuries. Our Attorneys has the resources and experience to take on large corporations and insurance companies. Contact our law office to set up a free consultation.

San Diego, CA Injury Accident Attorney Supports CAOC

George Washington once said:

“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

Letter of Instructions to the Captains of the Virginia Regiments [July 29, 1759]. The advocates of consumer rights, viewing the resources of defense firms and corporate defendants, can relate to the trepidation felt by the out-numbered and out-gunned Continental Army. Because of that disparity in resources, Consumer Attorneys of California (“CAOC”) consolidates the voices of consumer attorneys throughout the state to (1) preserve and protect the constitutional right to trial by jury for all consumers, (2) champion the cause of those who deserve redress for injury to person or property, (3) encourage and promote changes to California law by legislative, initiative or court action, (4) oppose injustice in existing or contemplated legislation, (5) correct harsh, unjust and oppressive legislation or judicial decisions, (6) advance the common law and promote the public good through the civil justice system and concerted efforts to secure safe products, a safe workplace, a clean environment, and quality health care, (7) uphold the honor, integrity and dignity of the legal profession by encouraging mutual support and cooperation among members, (8) promote the highest standards of professional conduct, and (9) inspire excellence in advocacy. This post is a multi-blog effort to inform consumer attorneys about CAOC’s value and encourage participation in CAOC through membership.

CAOC works tirelessly to protect or advance those causes of import to consumers and their attorneys in California. Often those efforts, though valuable, receive little fanfare. For example, CAOC recently sponsored SB 510, which affects the re-sale of what are known as “structured settlements,” in which victims receive financial compensation over a period of time for medical expenses and basic living needs, as determined by a jury. Before SB 510 was signed by the Governor, Courts expressed frustration at their inability to prevent the sale of structured settlements on terms that might ultimately lead to long-term financial hardship for the victim. Now, SB 510 gives judges the information they need to make a reasoned decision about the propriety of a structured settlement sale.

Measures like CAOC-sponsored SB 510 help protect the most vulnerable members of our society and ask for nothing in return. They exemplify the spirit of CAOC. However, CAOC is only as effective in its mission as its membership allows it to be. When consumer attorneys join the ranks of CAOC, its voice gains in power and clarity. But if consumer advocates sit on the sidelines, hoping to benefit from the work of others, CAOC is stretched thin, and we are all at risk as a result.

Now, consumer advocate bloggers from across the state are combining their voices to call upon each and every lawyer and firm that regularly represents plaintiffs to join CAOC, thereby strengthening the consumer’s first line of defense. The blogs participating in this unified call to action are:

  • The Complex Litigator (H. Scott Leviant)
  • The UCL Practitioner (Kimberly Kralowec)
  • Bailey Class Action Daily (Matt Bailey)
  • California Employee Rights Blog (James J. Peters)
  • An Appeal to Reason (Donna Bader)
  • California Personal Injury and Insurance Blog (Jonathan G. Stein)
  • California Debt Blog (Jonathan G. Stein)
  • TrialLawyerTips.com (Mitch Jackson and Lisa Wilson)
  • California Injury Blog (John Bisnar)
  • San Diego Car Accident Lawyer Blog
  • San Diego Injury Accident Lawyer Blog
  • California Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog (Walton Law Firm LLP)
  • San Diego Injury Law Blog (Walton Law Firm LLP)
  • California Personal Injury Law Blog (Norman Gregory Fernandez)
  • Biker Lawyer Blog (Norman Gregory Fernandez)
  • California Credit Law (Mark F. Anderson, Carol Brewer & Andy Ogilvie)
  • Lemon Law Blog (Mark F. Anderson, Carol Brewer & Andy Ogilvie)

Show your support of consumers’ rights by joining and supporting CAOC. Together we can make an impact that we cannot make alone.

Three Students Struck in Santee Car Accident

Three girls were struck and injured by a vehicle in a serious pedestrian accident that occurred on October 17, 2011, around 8:30 a.m. near Santana High School in Santee. According to the investigating authorities, the girls were attempting to cross the street near the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and Carefree Drive when a car struck them. All the girls suffered minor bruises and scratches.

From the limited information, it is not clear as to what led to this accident. The investigation is in process. Meanwhile, the parents of the injured girls should immediately seek counsel from an experienced San Diego County pedestrian accident lawyer who would educate them about their legal rights and assure that the at-fault truck driver is brought to justice.

The victims’ parents can also file a personal injury claim against the driver to obtain compensation to cover treatment, medical and hospital costs, and other accident-related damages.

Our personal injury law office sincerely hopes that the injuries suffered by the young girls heal soon.

Hot Coffee the Movie Shows the Ill Effect of Tort Reform

Remember the McDonald’s coffee case? A woman orders a cup of hot coffee. She puts the cup in between her legs as she drives. Then, the coffee spills, and she gets third-degree burns on very private areas on her body. Cha-ching!

Though, that is not exactly the whole story. Susan Saladoff, director of the documentary film Hot Coffee, which premieres on HBO tonight at 6 p.m. PST, shows viewers what really happened in the infamous “McDonald’s hot coffee” lawsuit. The movie looks at what actually happened to Stella Liebeck, why the case got so much media attention, who funded the effort, and who really profited from spilling hot coffee.

Hot Coffee is a “call to action.” It asks the question, What happens when access to court is so lopsided that the average person cannot gain access? And who really pays the price, the negligent party or taxpayers?

In the four cases the film documents, Saladoff shows how Americans are surrendering their Constitutional rights in all sorts of ways without even knowing it and how they are being screwed by the system –not taking advantage of it.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed because of a defective product or negligent person, you are entitled to damages. The California personal injury attorneys will protect your Constitutional rights and get the money you deserve.

California Judges Corrected on Application of Controversial Collateral Source Exception

California judges recently received better guidance for how and when to apply a controversial exception to the collateral source rule, a rule that permits California injury victims to recover the full amount of medical bills incurred following an accident even if paid by a source other than the person who caused the accident (a “collateral source”).

The clarification recently came through the editing of citations in the California Judicial Council Judges Benchbook, a reference source for judges hearing California personal injury cases. The edit makes it clear that defendants are not entitled to a post-trial reduction hearing. Rather defendants must meet a specific exception to the collateral source rule for the trial court to consider holding a post-trial reduction hearing.

Lawyers Rated As Worst Drivers

According to a recent study conducted by Insurance.com, 44% of lawyers and judges — a higher percentage than any other profession — reported to insurance companies while comparison shopping for auto insurance that they had been involved in a prior driving accident. This is the highest accident rate amongst any profession included in this survey. The findings were published in a list entitled Top 10 Most Dangerous Drivers by Profession.

This is a higher rate of accidents than those reported by interstate truck drivers, financial professionals, waiters, or government workers. According to Insurance.com Vice President Sam Belden, the higher rate of auto accidents months lawyers and judges as well as financial professionals, who came in second, is because these professions demand multitasking, have higher stress, and require professionals to be focused on multiple tasks at the same time. According to Belden, this leads to more accidents.

However, government workers came in third. This profession is not typically known for high-pressure schedules and its workers are typically just as prone to multitasking as lawyers or judges.

The safest drivers, according to the study, were athletes and homemakers. Belden believes that homemakers are very safe drivers because they tend to take your time while driving and use greater caution because they’re typically driving with their children in their vehicles. In addition, homemakers and athletes also tend not to drive during rush hour when most car accidents occur.

California Emergency Room Doctors Sue State For Failing Health Care System

California emergency room doctors have filed a class-action lawsuit against the State of California alleging that California’s healthcare system–stretched and burdened by its’ thin budget and high demand for services–is about to collapse on itself. The suit comes at a time when hospitals and emergency rooms are closing at alarming numbers, leading to limited emergency care for injured Californians.

The situation is only becoming worse with the State proposing $1.1 billion in cuts to MediCal, California’s low-income health payment system.

This is the second lawsuit brought by doctors against the State of California within a year. In the first lawsuit, led by the California Medical Association, doctors were able to obtain an injunction against the State’s proposal to cut MediCal reimbursement rates to healthcare providers by 10%. The State instead reduced current reimbursement rates by 1% to 5%.

Emergency room doctors have been particularly hard hit by the healthcare crisis since, unlike other doctors, they cannot choose to turn away low-income patients who rely on MediCal.