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Insurance Defense Tactics

After a serious personal injury, an individual is often confused about what to do to protect their rights. The legal process itself can be daunting. When insurance companies are notified about personal injury lawsuits that clearly have merit, there are usually two avenues they can pursue. If the personal injury claimant does not have an attorney, the insurance company can attempt to settle with the individual directly, usually for “pennies on the dollar” offering extremely low figures in exchange for a full release of all claims.

However, if the individual does hire a lawyer to pursue the injury claim, the insurance company will usually hire or assign an insurance defense counsel to defend the lawsuit. Once a personal injury lawsuit is filed, the defense counsel may employ several defense tactics or “strategies” to avoid paying a valid personal injury claim timely:

Delay

One common defense tactic used by insurance companies in personal injury claims is to delay the outcome of the lawsuit for as long as possible. The insurance company knows that the injured individual is in a desperate situation often unable to work with no new income coming in yet is faced with medical bills and other recurring household debts. Delaying the outcome will make the plaintiff even more desperate and perhaps willing to settle for a smaller amount. This is coupled with the insurance carrier placing their funds into stocks, bonds, or other interest growing accounts which will continue to grow during the period of delay.

Delay as a defense tactic usually is most manifest in the discovery stage of litigation. Defense firms rarely follow the preliminary conference court order that depositions or examinations before trial (“EBTs”) be held on a specific date. Instead, they come up with excuses to adjourn depositions at least 2-3 times in order to delay the case. Similarly, defense counsel will often demand authorizations for unrelated medical treatment and other tenuous discovery documents in order to further delay and bill the insurance company that is paying them. Here, an interesting development often occurs as the insurance carrier’s interest is to delay somewhat but ultimately to resolve the claim spending the least amount of money. In contrast, the defense law firm hired by the insurance company’s interest is to maximize their billable hours since this is often their sole method of compensation.

The F&A law firm is well aware of these personal injury defense tactics and promptly files motions to compel discovery with court orders and to sanction bad faith delay tactics.

Attacking Witnesses

Whether it is the plaintiff, a friend, family member, or unknown third party, the defense will usually try to discredit witnesses who testify on behalf of the plaintiff in a personal injury case. Impeaching witness testimony can take the form of showing that deposition statements were a little different from trial testimony highlighting contradictions. Another defense tactic is to show a family relationship or friendship between the injured party and a witness to argue there may be something to gain from the testimony. An experienced New York personal injury trial attorney will know how to deal with these personal injury defense tactics either by objecting to impermissible testimony, filing motions in limine to exclude evidence, or by rehabilitating the witness during re-direct examination at trial before a jury.

Comparative Negligence

Because New York is a comparative negligence state, a typical personal injury defense tactic involves shifting blame to the injured plaintiff for causing the accident. By placing blame on the plaintiff, the defense minimizes the total payout insurance companies must provide victims for their injuries.

For example, a plaintiff who was not wearing a seatbelt was injured in a rear-end car accident. Although the plaintiff suffered injuries by the defendant’s negligence that caused them to hit their vehicle from behind, the defense can argue that the injuries were exacerbated by the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt. Because of that comparative negligence, a judge can reduce the injured plaintiff’s award by a percentage due to their neglect to wear a seatbelt.

Pre-Existing Injuries

When the defense prepares for a personal injury case, they will review the plaintiff’s medical history in detail. This is done in an attempt to claim that the injuries suffered by the plaintiff are the result of pre-existing injuries, rather than the accident.

It is essential that accident victims seek medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident to receive a precise diagnosis that can stand up in a personal injury case. The longer accident victims wait to be treated for their injuries, the more difficult it will be to connect appropriate treatment to the injuries. Knowledgeable New York personal injury attorneys fight against these personal injury defense tactics by proving that the new injuries are unrelated to past ones, or that the past injury was worsened.

Contact Experienced New York Personal Injury Trial Lawyers

Many people believe a personal injury lawyer has an easy job of submitting a claim and receiving compensation but in serious and catastrophic injury cases worth hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars that is certainly not the case. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and their job is to pay out as little as legally possible. For this reason, an experienced New York injury trial lawyer will combat and defeat defense tactics to receive the maximum compensation in the most efficient manner for injured clients. Contact the F&A legal team for a confidential consultation at (866) ATTY-LAW or (866) 855-5279.

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