Bikes Have Rights™*

Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friend

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

 
By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP
 

Behind the warm and fuzzy jingles, the precocious animal mascots, and the deep-voiced spokespersons, insurance companies are faceless, heartless corporations whose one purpose is to increase premiums and to decrease payouts in order to make the biggest profits possible.

Simply put, THAT is why you need your own lawyer if you have a bike accident.

If insurance companies were “fair,” I’d be out of a job. I am pretty confident that unemployment due to insurance companies deciding to do the “right thing” is not something I have to worry about in my lifetime.

The reality is, after you have had a bike accident and the friendly insurance adjuster calls you, his (or her), goal is to come up with a reason not to pay you. If he can’t outright deny you compensation for your damages, he wants to diminish your case so the company has to pay you as little as possible.

Rest assured, everything you say to that nice insurance adjustor can and will be used against you in a court of law. That is why I – and every other personal injury lawyer – will tell you to refuse to speak to an insurance adjuster or insurance representative. Give the adjustor your lawyer’s name and phone number and hang up.

If you cooperate with the insurance adjuster and you are offered a settlement, it is likely that you are getting 10 cents on the dollar of the value of your case. I was once told by an adjuster that he received a bonus if he could settle a case within 48-hours.

Let me tell you about a case I handled. A client who had a Los Angeles bike accident injured his shoulder. He talked with the kindly insurance adjuster who sympathized and sent him to a doctor (an insurance company sending you to a doctor is a rare occurrence).

SURPRISE! The doctor recommended by the insurance company said my client’s shoulder was fine. The company offered my client $5,000 to settle his case.

My client’s shoulder really hurt. He finally engaged a lawyer (me), and I sent him to a doctor. The doctor I sent him to diagnosed a torn rotator cuff. He underwent surgery. We settled the case for $150,000.

Never forget that insurance companies have more knowledge than you do. They also employ an army of lawyers. They can throw more resources at your case than you even know exist. They have all the power, all the money, and the wherewithal to fight you when you are fighting alone.

You need an experienced personal injury lawyer to level the playing field. I have written here before about how to choose a lawyer, but it bears repeating to say you should look at how or where you got the referral, the lawyer’s experience in your type of case, and the results the lawyer has achieved.

Now go increase your uninsured motorist insurance to the maximum the insurance company will permit, and the next time you see an insurance company commercial, remember, they are not your friend.

*California Vehicle Code 21200: A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle. . .

For more than 25 years, Jim Pocrass has represented people who were seriously injured, or families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death, due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Jim is repeatedly named to Best Lawyers of America and to Southern California Super Lawyers for the outstanding results he consistently achieves for his clients. Having represented hundreds of cyclists during his career, and Jim’s own interest in cycling, have resulted in him becoming a bicycle advocate. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Jim Pocrass at 310.550.9050 or at info@pocrass.com.

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5 comments

  1. Calla Wiemer says:

    About a year ago, I was involved in a collision in which the driver was unquestionably at fault. I got an insurance settlement of about $16,000 that covered medical expenses, a new custom steel frame and components as appropriate, and compensation for pain and suffering. The process was fair and amicable, as far as I was concerned. Many people advised me to get a lawyer but I’m glad I did not. The driver’s insurance company was Progressive. While it’s true that insurance companies are in business to make money, a key element in that is building a good reputation.

  2. Jim Pocrass says:

    I’m truly glad the system worked for you, Calla. Unfortunately, more often than not, your experience is not what others experience. Safe travels.

  3. Lois says:

    Jim, are you recommending increasing uninsured motorist coverage for bike reasons or just in general? And what if I have umbrella coverage, even then?

    If the adjuster is offering policy limits, does it still make sense to have an attorney?

    Thanks.

  4. Vox Populi says:

    A couple of tips.
    Beware of your insurer requires you to sign a form called, “Agreement to reduce uninsured motorist coverage”, If they (Insurer) lowers your uninsured coverage – you were hoodwinked insurers are slipping in this form via electronically. Report the company to the Department of Insurance. Also if you pay electronically/sign forms make sure the insurer sends you an itemized statement in how those fees are applied to your premiums. Go through a nightmare because an insurer said, I had to have “Renters” insurance as a condition to having an auto policy, I didn’t need a “renters” policy that cost over $120.00. So folks,
    read your forms — better to see an agent in person than online.

  5. […] James L. Pocrass, a lawyer specializing in representing bicyclists who have been hit by motorists, put it thus in a recent post on Biking in LA: […]

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