For the last 18 months CNN correspondents Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston have been investigating mostly small, fender-bender accidents and how insurance companies are handling the claims made by individuals who are injured in these accidents.
The investigation focused in part on how Allstate Insurance Company handled the claim of Roxanne Martinez who was in an accident in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her medical bills and lost wages as a result of the accident added up to $25,000. Allstate offered only $15,000 to settle the claim and Ms. Martinez didn’t know what to do. The CNN correspondents report that Ms. Martinez’ case represents what 10 of the top 12 automobile insurance companies are doing in an attempt to save money.
Former insurance industry insiders say that if you are in a minor impact crash and get hurt, the insurance companies will most likely do the same thing to you that they did to Ms. Martinez: delay the handling of the claim; deny that you were hurt; and then defend their decision in a long drawn out court battle. It is called the three D’s: delay, deny and defend.
Allstate and the other insurance companies are betting that you’ll take what they offer and walk away. The correspondents found actual language in the Allstate training manuals concerning how to offer “walk-away” settlements.
Shannon Kmatz, a former claims adjuster for Allstate, told CNN that sometimes she would offer as little as $50.00 to settle a case. She said that poor people would often take the low ball offers fearing that if they didn’t, they would end up with nothing.
According to the report Roxanne Martinez did not take the $15,000 offer from Allstate. She filed suit and a jury awarded her $167,000. It took Ms. Martinez 3 years, however, to get to court and win her verdict.
Allstate and other insurance companies are betting that people will not wait for a reasonable resolution of their claim, they will not sue, and they will take what is offered and walk-away. According to CNN experts this is in fact what people have been doing. Accident victims have been walking away from billions of dollars in legitimate claims that the insurance companies are keeping for themselves.
Allstate would not grant an interview with CNN or answer any questions.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident in South Carolina, call the Louthian Law Firm today for a free consultation. We can help guide you through the legal process and help you obtain the maximum recovery.