The lawyers at James H. Brown and Associates have observed a growing trend. Insurance companies stringing along unrepresented injured claimants, and pressuring settlements at the claim's deadline.
“We’ve been hearing from an increasing number of injured claimants who fit this profile” said Wally Nashman, Lawyer at James H. Brown and Associates.
“In many instances we have claimants who are still receiving treatments for chronic pain, and are being pressured to settle by adjusters because of the approaching limitation date. It’s very difficult for a lawyer to assist these individuals so late in the process, however we still do our best to file the necessary documents in court to preserve their rights”.
Individuals injured in Alberta usually must file their claim in court within two years according to the Limitations Act.
Nashman also added that what’s even a greater concern is that many of these unrepresented individuals are being convinced by insurance adjusters that their injuries fall under the minor injury cap legislation. “That’s not always the case. Recent case law clarified that people suffering from certain types of injuries, and people suffering chronic pain, can fall outside the capped compensation under the minor injury regulation. Unfortunately this information isn’t making it to those affected and they often end up settling their own claims for amounts far lower than they should have.”
Government officials have also expressed concerns recently regarding aggressive practices by the Insurance industry. So much so, that the Superintendent of Insurance issued a Bulletin last month warning that insurance companies denying automobile accident total disability benefits unnecessarily is an “unfair act, or practice” holding that the insurer may be subject to a fine of up to $25,000 for each instance.
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Trent Brown, B.A., LL.B.
James H. Brown & Associates
As an injured victim you want to be fairly compensated for your pain and suffering as well as all financial losses suffered as a result of your injuries. Insurance companies, on the other hand, have no interest in seeing that you are fairly compensated. They are in business to make a profit and the less they pay out to claimants like you the more money they will make. This is known as an adversarial relationship – your interests are directly opposite to the interests of the insurance company.
Because of this adversarial relationship you should be on your guard when an insurance adjuster suggests you settle your claim quickly. Often adjusters act like they only have your interest at heart. Beware - this is rarely the case. Adjusters are fully aware that most injured people have little knowledge of what their claim may be worth. They capitalize on this lack of knowledge by attempting to settle claims quickly before the injured person has a chance to consult a lawyer for advice. In some cases adjusters even suggest to people that they avoid hiring a lawyer saying lawyers will take their money, etc. In many cases these scare tactics actually work and people end up settling their claims for less than fair value.
One thing of utmost importance is that you do not settle your claim before you know the final outcome of your injuries. The absolute worst case scenario is where a person settles their claim for a relatively small amount of money before their injuries are fully resolved and then their injury symptoms worsen. Once you settle you cannot go back and ask for more money even if your injuries worsen to the point where you are completely disabled. We have seen cases where what initially appeared to be minor injuries eventually worsened to where the person was permanently disabled. We strongly advise people not to rush into settling their claim prematurely. Before settling your claim you should consult with an experienced injury lawyer. We are a happy to review your case without cost or obligation.