Frivolous Claims and Lawsuits
SETTING A PERSONAL INJURY DIVING CLAIM WITHOUT LEGAL COUNSEL
FRIVOLOUS CLAIMS OR LAWSUITS
The hiring of investigators and adjusters is a product of a litigious society. News stories abound informing us of fortune seekers who feel that the legal system is no different than the lottery. Unscrupulous attorneys help facilitate this atmosphere. The legal system is designed to provide those with legitimate disputes a forum in which they can resolve their differences. The legal system is not designed for “get rich quick” schemes.
The fling of frivolous lawsuits is illegal. Federal and state law enforcement agencies have been established to investigate, seek out and prosecute those who fle frivolous lawsuits. Additionally, judges and the local state bar associations are pursuing attorneys who promote and file frivolous lawsuits.
SETTLING A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
Without Legal Counsel A settlement is just that – it settles a claim once and for all. Upon accepting settlement funds an injured diver may be told that the acceptance of the money and signature on settlement papers forever discharges the diving company and the insurance company from any future responsibility.
The consequences of one’s actions, no matter how desperate the financial position, must be thoroughly considered prior to accepting a settlement.
In accepting a settlement and receiving settlement funds the diver is signing away all of his or her legal rights under the law.
Thankfully, not all injuries are so severe as to disqualify the diver from continuing his or her career as a professional diver. Such cases lend themselves to a settlement of the claim without the necessity of hiring an attorney or fling a lawsuit. Additionally, some claims have no legal basis or foundation; either the company was not at fault or the diver was not in fact injured. Such claims are best not fled.
In any case, however, it is urged that the diver discuss any proposed settlement with competent legal counsel. That is not to say one must hire an attorney. Customarily Delise & Hall counsels a diver to settle, without the necessity of fling suit, where the injury is minor or where circumstances dictate that the best interests of the diver are served without attorney intervention.
If it is a diver’s intention to try the settlement process without a legal counsel here are a few suggestions.
First of all, it is important for the diver to obtain all medical reports and results of medical testing. Do not trust the insurance company’s explanation as to the impressions or opinions of the treating physicians. Discuss personally with your doctors the fact that you are attempting to settle your claim, and inquire as to what, if any, residual damage is expected to occur in the future as a result of the injury. Without this knowledge you will compromise your future.
Second, ask the adjuster to provide you with any and all information he or she may possess on the accident. Ask him or her to send you all of the medical reports or medical test results in his or her possession. Request that he or she send you copies of all witnesses’ statements, accident reports, photographs or any other important information or documentation of how or why the accident occurred.
You can believe that the adjuster or claims representative secured this information; that’s his or her job. These requests will be a test of the adjuster’s “good faith,” the “good faith” that the adjuster has so often mentioned over the length of your relationship.
Thirdly, let the adjuster do most of the talking. Do not allow the adjuster to chisel away the figure you have asked for. Ask that the adjuster justify his or her figures. Do not be swayed by the technique whereby the adjuster explains that he or she must “pass it on to superiors.” The adjuster knows what the claim is worth. The “passing it on” is for the purpose of delay. The claim will be settled later in time for less money; at that point the diver will need the money more and will be more desperate to take whatever the offer, no matter how much less. Time is money and no one is more aware of that than the insurance company.
The insurance company, not faced with a pending trial date, holds all the money and, hence, all the cards. As mentioned before, an injured diver is not on equal ground with the insurance company or its adjusters in attempting to settle the claim.
The insurance company may offer what is commonly called a “structured settlement.” A structured settlement allows the insurance company to pay the claim over time instead of in one lump sum payment.
Settling a claim with a structure maybe a good idea for those who would squander their settlement away and in some cases there maybe tax benefits. Before accepting such an arrangement discuss the proposal with an investment advisor or legal counsel. The important thing to note is that you can do the same thing with a lump sum settlement by purchasing an annuity through an investment company. All that is important is how much the settlement is worth in today’s dollars and whether you will retain the principal when the investments mature.