How to Settle Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
Frequently, riders ask me about settling their own claims following a motorcycle accident. After all, they reason, it wasn’t my fault and I’m not looking for blood. Won’t the insurance company want to settle my case?
Unfortunately, insurance companies have focused only on quarterly results for so many years, that they have forgotten completely about their purpose. They now act as though the premiums are theirs to invest, and anyone making a claim is a criminal, to be treated like one.
If this sounds harsh, I am working on a case where a car decided to make a u-turn, cutting across several lanes, and hitting a motorcycle rider from the side. The rider had no warning, and hit his head so hard he can’t remember the accident.
He has $27,000 in medical bills so far, his bike was totalled, and he lost a lot of gear. In addition, he has a few thousand dollars in wage loss.
The car that hit him only had $50,000 in insurance coverage, through Geico insurance company.
This last week, two appellate courts in California cleared up the law regarding compensation for medical bills, and reaffirmed that your damages are calculated based on what you were billed, even if the treating physician or hospital accepted a reduced amount from the health insurance carrier. [I don’t want to get technical here, but California has a “collateral source rule” that prevents the negligent driver from getting credit for insurance benefits you paid for].
Geico’S wonderful fair and considered offer? $17,000. They based their evaluation on reduced medical bills, in violation of the law. They didn’t offer anything for the motorcycle and property damage (no explanation – your guess is as good as mine).
Realize, I have already filed a lawsuit, as I do regularly. They can’t be thinking the case will go away – it is already in court. No, I am not leaving out something that explains this behavior.
Geico simply has a set up that encourages this kind of nonsense. They simply want to hold on to the money for a while longer. Geico has “house counsel”, meaning that they use attorneys who are their employees. Because they are not paying a real law firm, they figure it costs less to stall on payment.
Will this eventually work out for my client? I could almost guarantee that it will. Will it take longer. Again, yes, it will.
What’s my point? If I sometimes get this kind of response, even after filing suit, what will you get without a lawyer?
The insurance companies love it when you try to settle yourself. They live for the added delay.