Costly Insurance Settlement Claim Mistakes in Michigan

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in .

There are a number of things you should do and should not do to protect your legal rights from the very beginning after you have had a serious injury incident. Please read the following guidelines carefully before you take any further action.  It may help you or someone you love avoids one of these common mistakes.

1. Surveillance videos and photos of you

It is very common for insurance companies to send out investigators as soon as an incident occurs in order to gain an information advantage over you before you have time to react. The insurance company may send someone out to talk to your neighbors, employer, friends, and family, and there is no law to prevent them from doing this.

The insurance company may also have someone videotaping or photographing you right now, in the hope that they can show that your injuries are not limiting you in the way that you will claim later on.

One of the most damaging things that can happen in a case is to have inconsistency between what you say and what you do.

In order to take away the information advantage from the insurance company, we recommend that you contact an attorney as soon as possible after an injury incident has occurred. Right now would be a perfect time.

2. Always tell the truth

This is good advice not only in life, but to persons who are victims of injury incidents. You may think that the fact that you were hurt automatically means that you are in the right and are entitled to money or insurance benefits. As you will quickly learn if you try to deal with an insurance company yourself, being in the right or being honest is just the beginning.

While we recommend that you do not fill out papers or statements to the insurance company before you have spoken to an attorney, we also recommend that you NEVER say or write down anything that is false in any application for insurance benefits, claim form or incident report. Even when you think you are being honest, things you write down or say today can change later, leaving you in ths position of seeming dishonest later on, even if that was never your intention. Again, there is nothing more damaging to a claim than the appearance of dishonesty, and unless you are an expert in dealing with insurance companies, you cannot be expected to know where all the tricks and traps that are being set for you will be located.

Again, we urge you to speak to an attorney before you fill out any documents or give any statements to anyone about this incident. Even if you think you have the entire situation figured out, or that you will win simply because you were in the right, you have nothing to lose by learning the ropes before you take action.

3. What documents to sign

This is simple. Never sign anything to do with this claim until you have consulted with an attorney. You may believe that it will speed up your claim to sign a release allowing the insurance company to get your medical records, or that you will appear helpful if you give personal or employment information to an investigator who called you soon after the incident. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, by allowing the insurance company early and unrestricted access to your personal information, you are handing over the keys to the future of your claim to someone who has a financial interest in seeing you get as small a package of benefits as possible – or none at all!

Please contact a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims BEFORE you sign any documents whatsoever. We make this point in a very strong way because it is one of the biggest mistakes we have seen people make in our many years of practice.

4. The more you think you know, the more vulnerable you are

Over the years, we have seen countless examples of people who thought that dealing with an insurance company would be as easy as it looks in the ads on television, or that they could save money by trying to work out a settlement of their claims on their own. Others feel that they have enough life experience to be able to figure out whatever is necessary to settle an insurance claim. Still others innocently believe that because it is clear they did not cause the accident, it will be just as clear that they should be entitled to a big settlement Unfortunately, this mistake happens most often in cases where family members have been killed or seriously injured.

We cannot count the number of people who have come to us weeks or months (even years!) After an accident angry and upset that they have not been able to resolve their claims on their own. These good people have provided endless amounts of information to the insurance company, gone to insurance company doctors as requested, signed documents and returned them promptly…only to find that they are getting only an insultingly small offer – or no offer at all from the insurance company. After giving and giving, and trying to be cooperative and helpful, such people have not only become among the angriest that we see, but have given a huge tactical advantage to their opponents by handing over the entire case to them without getting anything in return!

Don’t be a victim twice. Unless you do this for a living, what’s the harm in consulting an attorney to at least get basic information before you dive in on your own?

5. Facebook, social networking pages and voice mail

In this age of the Internet and instant communication, something you may not have thought about is the impression you are leaving on your voicemail and through social networking pages like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You should immediately eliminate any funny or musical voicemail messages that you may have for your friends who call. When the insurance company investigators locate you and call you to try to get you to give them information (remember, as stated above, you shouldn’t give any information over the phone to anyone, and should call your attorney immediately if you receive such calls), and receive a voice message that has a funny or silly tone, they will already have scored a victory by being able to classify you as someone who must not be terribly upset about having been in an accident or having had a family member who has.

By the same token, be very careful about the information you have posted and will post from now on with your social networking sites. You not only want to eliminate anything that you have posted previously that might be considered controversial or off-color, you must also be very careful not to post anything from now on that shows or suggests that there is a difference between the damages you are claiming and the way that your life appears to have been affected. As we’ve stated throughout this article, the worst thing that you can do is appear inconsistent in the eyes of the insurance company, or, someday, a jury. People don’t have to necessarily like you – but they must believe you! Take our advice on this: clean up your appearance on the Internet and on your voicemail!

6. Comparing your case to others

You have probably seen on TV, or heard from a neighbor or friend about a case where someone was hurt in a car accident and got a huge sum of money. When you look at what has happened to you, and compare it to those cases that you have heard about, it is natural to assume that you will get at least as much, or maybe a lot more, than the person you heard about.

There have been many changes in the law over the last few years that have greatly restricted the rights of injury victims to pursue money damages. Unfortunately, this has resulted in reducing settlement amounts in many cases – or eliminating them altogether! A matter that may have resulted in a settlement ten or 20 years ago might have no value by today’s standards, so it is unwise to compare on that basis.

Moreover, claims that you see on television or elsewhere that name a settlement amount, but don’t say much about the kind of case can be somewhat misleading. For one thing, the healthy-looking people you see on television claiming that they received big awards are usually actors – not the victims themselves. Next, you don’t know by seeing a number flashed on the screen whether the settlement was paid out all at once or over a 20 or 30-year period. Certainly, there is a difference between receiving a lump sum right now, or receiving a tenth of that amount each year for ten years.

Take a look at some of the cases we have resolved over the years. You see that we fully disclose to you the amount of the settlement and a little information regarding each case. We are very proud of our record representing injury victims, and we believe you should be fully informed and have a lot of information about any lawyer you are considering hiring BEFORE you make a decision.

Again, you have nothing to lose by calling us and asking us questions so that you can check out our background, achievements and record for fairness and truthfulness.

7. It costs nothing to talk with us

We will never bill you for the time we spend talking with you on the telephone, meeting with you in person or exchanging information with you through emails. One of the things our clients have said over and over again is that they appreciate how easy it is to reach Steve Matz when they have a question or problem. We don’t understand how other firms can hand you off to associate attorneys or paralegal staff when you have a question for the attorney!

That’s why we give you our personal cell phone numbers and emails and encourage you to call us whenever you like! And remember – there is never an added charge to you for time we spend talking with you, whether or not you choose to hire us.

Why not pick up the phone now? We have listed some of the most important things to watch out for early on in your claim – and throughout your claim as well. What we hope you will take away from this is that:

  • the insurance claims system is loaded against you;
  • just because you are right does not mean you are going to win;
  • playing nice with an insurance company does not mean you will be treated well in return;
  • from day one, you and your family are probably being watched, investigated and studied online and elsewhere by investigators;
  • don’t fill out or sign anything until you have talked to a lawyer; and
  • try not to compare your situation with other claims you have heard about.

We will talk with you for free right away to go over your claim with you, and we will pay for the telephone call.  Alternatively, we are available by email on our Contact page.  You have nothing to lose by checking us out yourself. You have everything to lose if you ignore the cautious advice we have just provided to you.

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
array digital logo
© Matz Injury Law.
The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 33 1/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 33 1/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients. 

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients.  We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims.  Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.

Lets Talk Close window
WAIT! TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR LOWER RATE OF 22%

22 not 33

Other firms charge 33%
We win or you don't pay | 24/7 Team Support | Over 10k Cases Of Experience