Insurance companies will never pay more than they think a jury would give you.
Rule #2 :
Insurance companies will pay you nearly nothing if they can make you look like a liar, because they know how much jurors dislike liars.
Rule #3 :
Insurance companies save significant money on claims each time they show an injured person to be a liar.
Therefore, navigating successfully through Rules #1-3 means one thing and one thing only: As a person seeking recovery for injuries, AVOID AT ALL COST looking like a liar.
That means you need to share all of the bad facts about your medical history with your lawyer and doctors early on. This approach is far superior to falsifying the existence of a good medical history.
Having a prior injury to your neck, when now you are claiming a car crash caused neck injury is a bad fact. But, I am great with that fact coming out early, always and often versus my client being caught lying or omitting the fact that she suffered pre-existing injury, even on one doctor intake form. Being caught lying or omitting is "lights out" on your case. Oh, and here is a little trade secret: liars ALWAYS get caught.
You have always thought of yourself as very smart and so you will get away with it you think, right? Remove this thought from your mind because they will spot your lie and they will exploit it for all it is worth - EVERYTIME.
Getting the trail of medical records back to your pediatrician is really easy, even when you think you are being clever in omitting doctors and hospitals that you have visited. In fact for the insurance company it is child's play. They have indexes, medical releases, and a full staff of people trained who "know where all the bodies are buried." You may not want them to know about Dr. Jones who treated your aching back. But, all they have to do is get the records from the doctor who referred you to Dr. Jones; bingo, now you're a liar! Or, they send a release to the health insurance companies you have had in the past; bingo, there's Dr. Jones billing records which leads easily to Dr. Jones medical records; yep, you're a liar. Checkmate!
Far more important than having prior injuries, claims, lawsuits, or even felonies, is that you avoid being caught lying about any of those things. Lying above all, year in and year out, takes million dollar cases and makes them worth nothing. Jurors award money to people they find to be truthful. Jurors award nothing to people they find deceptive.
Think about it in your own life. If you meet someone and find that you like them, what do you say? "Joe is a good guy, A REAL STRAIGHT SHOOTER." Humans judge people mostly on a "deception-meter." Why are politicians, bankers, used car salesmen and (yes) lawyers the top four most reviled professions? Answer: they all are perceived professions that we score high on our "deception- meters." Worse, it is perceived that in these professions people lie to achieve financial success.
Jurors are made up of people in the community, and community members hate liars more than anything; certainly much more so than bad drivers. Get the picture?
Accordingly, if I were to describe what good insurance company lawyers spend every waking moment doing in a case where injuries are clear, and the crash was clearly caused by the at-fault driver, I would say unquestionably, building a case of "plaintiff is deceptive." Make the plaintiff a proven, documented, and bona-fide liar. He knows that if he can "make it stick" it is like cutting off the head of a snake. It's the hay maker punch in the fight. It's the game changer of all game changers.
SO WHAT TO DO?
I would hope by now it's obvious. If you want to frustrate the insurance company lawyer to no end, TELL THE TRUTH! I don't mean just tell the truth when you get caught. I mean, TELL THE TRUTH from the very beginning.
I don't care if the truth is that you have had a 20 year history of chronic back pain, and this accident made it a little worse. That is far and away better than being caught trying to minimize or deny the existence of a condition. First because you are going to get caught and second, when you do get caught, your case regardless of the facts, will be worth very little or nothing once you are branded as deceptive.
When the emergency room doctor asks you about your medical history: TELL THEM EVERYTHING. They will write it down, but, it beats the heck out of records denying prior back injury (which is what he will write if you lie), in the wake of 6 inches of prior back injury records.
When you see your follow up medical specialist and are asked to fill out the exhaustive intake form of your prior conditions, go back up to the front counter and ask if you should write on the back of the form too, or would it be better to get separate sheets of paper? I'm serious, be over-inclusive, do not edit, don't paraphrase or assume that this type of doctor won't care about that condition. These forms have multiple uses. One is for the particular doctor use, but the rest of the uses of this form center around your relative truthfulness. Be candid, be exhaustive, and omit nothing.
The more over inclusive and CONSISTENT you are in your details, the more frustrated the insurance company lawyer will be. What will he do about it? He will dig deeper? Then what? He will give up when he finds that you don't lie about these things. Then behind your back, begrudgingly calling you "a straight shooter," he will call up your lawyer and pay in settlement what justice demands.
When you don't lie, and omit anything that can be perceived as a lie, the insurance company lawyer has no bullets, and he will be forced to settle with you for good money. So, just like your mother told you all those years ago, honesty is the best policy.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we believe that honesty and forthrightness is truly the only way to obtain a just verdict or settlement. Anything short of the truth results in less money for our clients. If you have questions about this, please call us and speak with one of our attorneys today.