You know all those premiums you pay for auto insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance, etc.? You expect that will protect you (up to your policy limits) if something happens and you or a loved one are in an accident.
Well, that’s not necessarily true. Almost every case that ends up in litigation does so because the insurance company failed to pay what they should have, and have forced the injured party to come get it in court.
But the insurance company is not the one who gets sued in those cases. It’s the policyholders. In fact, juries aren’t even allowed to know that the defendant has insurance.
The insurance company still has a duty to defend its insured and pay the damages—they will provide a lawyer and an adjustor for defense of the case. But what could have been a simple matter worked out between the injured (and their lawyer) and the insurance company becomes a time-consuming, stressful, and scary ordeal for the defendant. It can even become a public spectacle if the case goes to trial. All with a person’s or a business’s name attached to it, not the insurance company’s name.
Our firm only represents plaintiffs—people who have been injured by the negligence of another. But there are things defendants should know as well.
Imagine you own a paint store. You spill some paint on the floor. You forget to clean it up. Your favorite customer comes in. Doesn’t see the paint. (It’s white on a white floor.) Slips. Falls. Breaks their hip. You feel terrible. You know it’s your fault. You want to cover the damages—at least pay for the medical bills. But you can’t afford it. Luckily, you have insurance. Your insurance will take care of it, right?
Not necessarily. Even in that case, where fault could not be clearer, the insurance company will try to get out of paying for it. Or pay as little as they can. Even potentially to the point of going to trial, so that everyone in your town will think you run a dirty sloppy business, don’t clean up after yourself, and don’t take care of your mistakes. It could ruin your business.
Your insurance company doesn’t care about that. All they care about is paying as little as they can. All they’re required to protect you from is having to pay those damages out of your own pocket.
It’s gotten to the point where we recommend defendants get independent counsel. It won’t be paid for by the insurance company, but it is really the only way to make sure all of your interests are protected—not just the insurance company’s. A plaintiff’s lawyer would glad to do that for you. As long as they’re not the ones you are up against. *wink*