Auto insurers are large, professional corporations with vast legal resources and money. After a severe car accident, the last thing you want to worry about is how you will pay your bills. You have a car in the shop or totaled. Moreover, you will have severe injuries requiring extensive medical treatment and healing, including physical therapy or surgery. In short, you don’t want to waste your time on what seems like little things. Next, some insurance companies are excellent in the provision of services and claims handling. But typically, the opposite remains true.
California car insurance accident disputes occur a lot more than they should. Sadly, when accidents do happen, insurers low ball you or drag it out. Because of this, many Los Angeles car accident attorneys believe insurance companies are downright dishonest in their ads. Most people recall the jingles on the radio and T.V. commercials.
For example, catchy jingles and slogans like “safe drivers save 50%,” “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” “Nationwide is on your side,” “Farmers get you back where you belong,” of “Liberty Biberdy.” Can you remember some of these crazy commercials? What about the GEICO caveman? “Even a caveman can do it.”
So all of this propaganda is constantly flooding consumers. And many consumers buy from these big companies because they become convinced they will be reimbursed in case of an accident. But at the end of the day, no catchphrase will convince an insurance adjuster to pay you. It’s the opposite.
With the billions spent in advertising each year, insurance companies have a vested interest in not paying you when injured in an accident. And sadly, most of us learn this when we get in a wreck and try and reasonably resolve the accident claim.
The premise of what many consider false advertising is that they keep their word and honor their policies. You call them right up, and they take care of the issue in minutes flat. They pay out what they are supposed to when they are supposed to. However, many insurance companies do not operate on that premise.
Instead, many insurance companies are structured around the idea that it should be difficult for a policyholder to access their money. And they act in a way that is the opposite of what you signed on the dotted line for. As a result, so many of the legal cases we handle in our law firm revolve around insurance issues.
The lengths that insurance companies go to to avoid paying out for their policyholders are often obscene. As you probably guessed, we’ve seen it all before. In dozens and dozens of cases, we’ve seen insurance companies try to use loopholes and legalese to get out of cutting a check.
That is not acceptable to us. And if they can talk in legalese, we are more than fluent. We don’t let anything get by us, especially not for a client in need. Below we discuss some of the key elements surrounding insurance disputes and how Ehline Law can help.
Why Choose Ehline Law For Your Liability Auto Insurance Problems?
Michael Ehline is the Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys APLC based out of Los Angeles. He and his team have decades of experience handling insurance dispute cases. It is one of our core specialties.
Our team has worked on hundreds of similar topics, often revolving around car accidents. This experience makes our team incredibly skilled in handling the situation that you are in right now. We often see the same tactics being used time and time again. And it never gets old.
That is why we fight the insurance companies on their terms and ensure that our clients get what they need when they need it. Ehline Law is set up as a boutique law firm intended to help our clients on a one-on-one basis.
It’s this personalized approach that often means that we can settle our cases out of court. We save the extra time and stress of a trial if we can get the insurance company to agree to its policy, in black and white.
While this may seem like an easy process from the outside, far too many accident victims can tell you that there is often a long and complicated process involved. That is what our law firm is here to help with.
I’ve personally handled hundreds of such cases over my long legal career. And I understand many of them from the opposite perspective. I was never an insurance bigwig, but I did work several blue-collar jobs after leaving the Marine Corps.
Before entering into law, the experience taught me the games that large corporations play to extract every penny from the average person.
What Are Some Common Auto Liability Insurance Claim Disputes We Assist Clients With When Insurers Fail To Honor Promises?
- Provision of or Reimbursement for a Rental Car – Most policyholders should consider purchasing rental car accessibility as part of their coverages. Failure to do so means you will have no car or be forced to pay out of pocket for a rental vehicle if you crash your car. But even if you carry this coverage, your insurance providers don’t always act promptly. Once you provide proof, it’s part of your policy; they should quickly set you up with a loaner/rental car. The act like this is an unnecessary expense most of the time, or try and stick you with a clunker. Even though the claim you submitted to the at-fault party’s insurance company remains legally on the risk to cover reasonable expenses for a similar substitute auto. At the same time, they investigate liability; you are car-less. And this is the reason why you get your coverages now. Your own insurance company can seek reimbursement in a subrogation claim later. And this is assuming you won the share. Typically, you send your car to a repair shop, and you have up to 30 days worth of rental car coverages for a substitute vehicle. In any event, the whole thing may seem rigged against California consumers, especially without a great lawyer.
- Calculating Whether Your Car Was a Total Loss – Under California law, liability insurers are supposed to honor their contractual obligations to repair or replace your vehicle. To do this, your adjuster looks at the fair market value of your car with wear and tear versus total repair costs. Typically, they will not use the Kelley Blue Book. Instead, determining “fair market value” will be based on the local market where you reside. Typically, your insurer hires what they call a neutral third party to review the local Auto Traders in your area. These people they hire are biased in favor of the insurer, and it shows. For example, they will use models of cars for sale with similar mileage of the same year. But when we review their standards, we often find the comparison cars have blown transmissions or other mechanical problems that the “neutral” evaluator did not disclose in their comparison package. They also try and lowball you for any custom features like Pirelli P-Zero Nero tires or anything else you did to upgrade your vehicle. And this is why you must do your analysis. Attorneys usually stay out of this process because they don’t get money from your property damage claim. But the better injury lawyers will at least help you through the process, so you don’t get screwed.
Moreover, at least three estimates for repair costs calculation purposes may not include original parts, etc. And almost always, that diminishes the resale value of your car. Just because it’s preferred or recommended by your insco, the repair shop does not always use OEM parts. Without a lawyer, you are bound to get duped.
- Claims Adjuster Inspections Vehicle Repairs – Most of all, even with comprehensive and collision coverages, your insurance company and the at-fault party often delay claims and play games. Because California law allows them to take time to make reasonable inspections, they often abuse this right. And when they finally show up to make a proper inspection of your car, you usually have to argue over the repairs and original parts. However, California consumers do have the right to have their body shop estimate repairs.
- Nishihama and Medical Treatment Costs – A recent case, Nishihama, allows the court to reduce or significantly discount your medical reimbursement payments, even though they cost YOU more. Insurers love this because you end up with ruined credit, and they get out of paying the reasonable and necessary payments for your bodily injury claim. And this remains another reason why you need an excellent attorney. A man or woman who represents themselves has a fool for a client.
- Reducing or Refusing to Pay Intangible Damages Pain and Suffering and Associated Claims: Although there is no pain and suffering calculator, or bill to base pain on, plaintiffs are entitled to intangible damages. And often, these factors make up the majority of the plaintiff’s restitution award. Adjusters like to pretend these damages don’t exist. And some old school attorneys think their clients should get three times the amount of the medical bills. But this is an old wives’ tale. An attorney like Ehline will use their technique to bring you these non-economic damages for your mental and physical pain and suffering. And these can include making arguments that their client has lost “enjoyment of life.”
An example could be horrible burns from a car fire. A melted face is painful, and it can disfigure a person even with plastique surgery. An adhesion from a fallen motorcyclist’s road rash can limit your range of motion and cause extreme discomfort when bending your elbow or knee. Because of this, negligence law allows you to be paid for this grief, inconvenience, humiliation, anxiety, etc. To learn more, take a look at CACI 3905A. No matter what excuses the adjuster makes, the law requires they pay up for the injury’s negative effect. Usually, a lousy injury has a terrible impact on life at home or work (for example, what if you can no longer work, or even do yard work, go to the gym, etc.?). Because of this, past, present, and future trauma and pain and discomfort for surgical procedures and painful physical therapy are on the table as recoverable damage.
- Denial of Accident Liability – Ok, so this remains a common ploy when a party has no lawyer. Typically, the shifty claims adjuster hems and haws over who was at fault for the accident. Moreover, this occurs even when there is overwhelming evidence the other party was 100% at fault. And even if the insurer does not deny the claim outright, they will try and argue pure comparative negligence and only offer partial value for your case.
- What About the Eggshell Skull and Pre-Existing Medical Condition Argument? Under the eggshell skull theory, the at-fault party must pay you for any exacerbation of a pre-existing injury from a prior accident or disability. But adjusters try and turn this around. For example, they might say that nothing was “exacerbated” and that all your injuries are “pre-existing.” A right plaintiff’s lawyer will not tolerate this perversion of California law. Regardless of prior medical conditions or past accidents, the insurance company should not latch on this argument. Unfortunately, proving a worsened injury often requires expensive experts, and insurers know this to be the case. Because of this, they assume you will weigh those costs and settle for less.
- They are using Your “Delay in Treatment” As An Excuse – In the age of COVID-19, even after a crash, good luck getting a doctor’s appointment after a car accident. Most of the time, the injured victim remains in shock for several hours after a crash. And with shock comes increased adrenaline suppressing your pain and trauma. Because of this, many car accident victims with terrible injuries fail to take an ambulance to the hospital right away. They figure, “Hey, I am alive,” and they assume any discomfort will go away in a couple of days. Bad idea!
Moreover, since the pain failed to manifest itself right away, they try to go to the hospital later or get an appointment to see a doctor. As the bruising and soreness set in, weeks could pass before you can see a physician. Insurance companies latch on to this delay. They will try and argue any injuries you have caused later, after the collision, or just trying to get money. Of course, this is absurd. But to navigate through these unreasonable arguments, you need a pitbull lawyer to battle with the adjuster.
Mediating During Insurance Disputes?
Not every case of an insurance dispute following a car accident claim is malicious. In some instances, driver A and driver B have different insurance companies. Perhaps they are close to the value of what would make each driver whole.
But usually, disagreement exists over some of the aspects of the crash (often having to do with fault). Because of this, there will be a battle over the claim’s numerical dollar values. In short, there is simply a need for a moderator in some cases– and our firm excels at that.
In other cases, we’ve seen insurance companies flat out refuse to cover their policies. Often this has to do with the cost of car repairs or medical bills.
Many insurance companies like Farmers, GEICO, USAA, Mercury, Progressive, or infinity blanch at their high total policies and refuse to payout. They use false arguments to avoid paying the full value. Often people pay for high-dollar insurance policies on purpose.
And then, when they turn around to use them during a time of need, they find themselves unable to collect. All insurance companies’ promises to get them to sign up with them vanish once they are needed. Our firm specializes in going after insurance companies.
Often, we first approach this with a gentler approach, requesting mediation with our team. However, if the company jerks us around too, we go to hardball.
Moreover, this often includes a full-on suit, which may or may not come before a jury. As a result, many insurance companies decide to settle rather than having to face us in court. We can save our clients the time and stress of a full-court battle.
Why Ehline Law Makes the Difference?
Our experience handling hundreds of these cases in the past makes the difference for our clients. We have hundreds of satisfied former clients who can attest to the same thing here. Furthermore, our team remains specialized in insurance cases to help our clients– as quickly and as painlessly as possible. We understand that you have far too much on your mind following an accident.
Our team wants to help solve that as soon as possible. We work on contingency– and don’t ask for a cent unless we recover for you. And we can, in some cases, pay for the cost of medical treatment up front. We stop at nothing to help you– and no insurance company will prevent us from doing so. We offer a free consultation, so we have time to listen to you without the pressure of feeling rushed. And if we take your case, we won’t take a fee unless we win.
Remember, the call is free, and we are here to let you talk about yourself with a local injury attorney specializing in your particular case. To learn more about your legal rights to payment, give us a call (213) 596-9642.
Ehline Law Maintains locations and meeting places in Long Beach, Torrance, Marina del Rey, Santa Monica, San Bernardino, and Riverside. We can come to your home or bedside anywhere in Northern, Central, or Southern California.