Negotiating With Liability Insurance Part 1

Law Office of Doug Goyen, Dallas Injury Attorney
(972) 599 4100

Negotiating with the Adjuster - part 1:
(Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3).

When trying to negotiate your personal injury claim, you must take into consideration the insurance company you are dealing with, and why that insurance company acts the way they do, and why the insurance company feels like it can get away with treating people so poorly.

Who Are You Dealing With?: You are dealing with a liability insurance company. First you have to understand what liability insurance is, and what it says in Texas. Liability insurance typically has language that says that the insurance company will "pay for what you become legally liable for" due to whatever type of policy it is (driving for automobile, doing business in commercial policies, etc.). Obviously there are exclusions - they don't cover everything. But most important is the language itself - "what you become legally liable for". How do you determine if someone is legally liable? By a judgment, that is how. In other words, if you want to force the insurance company to pay you - you need a judgment against the person they are insuring. You don't sue the insurance company, you have to sue the person who was the driver, or the company that caused the injury, once you prove that the insured person or company is "legally liable" then the insurance company can be forced to pay.

Typically most insurance companies don't force you to file a lawsuit prior to negotiating with you. They will often try to settle the case without you needing to go to litigation. But if they have decided that they want to get out of your case cheap, or want to use and excuse not to pay, there is nothing you can do about it other than file a lawsuit - and they know it.

Why the Insurance Company Acts the Way They Do?:  To explain this, I have to go back in history regarding "Bad Faith". Bad Faith claims are where a person can sue their insurance company for treating them deceptively or unfairly/fraudulently. You can get "punitive" damages (damages to punish for bad behavior) - the worse the behavior of the insurance company, the more a jury would be likely to give to punish the insurance company and send a message that you can't treat your customers this way. Sometimes this would be 6 or 7 digit figures if the behavior was bad enough. This frightened insurance companies, so they had a fear of treating people badly back with Bad Faith had teeth.

Before becoming a Dallas personal injury attorney, I used to be an insurance claims adjuster from 1989 until 1997. Back when I first started working as an adjuster, the law was not clear on whether a liability insurance company could be held to be acting in "Bad Faith" when dealing with a 3rd party (a 3rd party is the victim who is trying to file a claim against the liability insurance to get his car fixed, or medical bills paid for due to the insurance company's insured driver or person causing injury or harm negligently). The 3rd party claimant is making a claim against someone else's insurance. As a 3rd party claimant - you do not have a contractual relationship with the liability insurance company. In the mid 1990's the Tort Reform movement swept across Texas in elections all across the state. The Texas Supreme Court shortly thereafter made it clear that "Bad Faith" claims could NOT be made against liability insurance policies, since the people making the claims did not have a contract with the insurance company, and therefor the insurance company had no duty to treat 3rd party claimants fairly in any way. This combined with the legislation passed by the Texas government that put caps on damages, and other restrictions on Bad Faith claims, gave the green light to insurance companies to act any way they want in dealing with liability claims.

Why does the Insurance Company fell like they can Get Away With it?:  The bottom line with any large company or corporation is making a profit. The less money paid, the more the profit. There is a conflict of interest between the policy-holders, and the stock-holders or owners of the insurance company. Policy holders want to be treated fairly when they have a claim, meaning they want to be paid for their claim, or want the insurance company to ensure they are not dragged into court on cases that should be settled. The owners, or stockholders, on the other hand, have an interest in making a profit - meaning that they want to pay as little as possible in order to increase profit. This often is in direct conflict with the policy holder's interests. Officers of corporations are responsible to their stockholders if they want to keep their position. So the bottom line is . . . the bottom line. Its about money. Insurance companies are pressured - by competition, and by stockholders, to keep payments as low as they can. Historically, because this conflict is as old as the insurance business, government has passed rules and laws to keep insurance companies in check.

Unfortunately, in the past 20 years in Texas, the law's teeth has been removed, allowing insurance companies to feel like they run rampant over people who have been victimized by wrongful acts, negligence, and other wrongdoing. People who are least able to do anything about being treated poorly (seriously injured, financially ruined by the wrongdoing of others), these are the people who are the victims of Texas allowing insurance companies to behave so badly. This is also the reason you need a lawyer to help you in dealing with the liability insurance company. The only way to force the insurance company to take responsibility is to hire a lawyer who knows his way around personal injury laws.

You will need someone with experience in the Dallas area if you have been injured in the Dallas area. Call the Law Office of Doug Goyen, Dallas Personal Injury Attorney, (972) 599 4100.

Types of Coverage in Automobile Injury Cases:
Automobile Liability Insurance, Uninsured Motorist Insurance, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Medpay Insurance, Property Damage & Collision Coverages for Your Auto

Personal Injury Areas We Help With Are:

Auto Accident and Injury Cases, Personal Injury Cases, 18 Wheeler & Commercial Vehicle Injury Accident Cases, Motorcycle Accident and Injury Cases, Wrongful Death Cases, Pedestrian Injured by Automobile Cases, Slip and Fall & Premises Cases, Workplace & Constructions Injury Cases, Dog Bite Injury Cases, Bicyclers Hit by Automobile Cases .

By Doug Goyen, douggoyen@gmail.com 

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