"You versus the insurance company - they sponsor baseball stadiums - who is on your side?"

Everyday our attorneys speak to individuals who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents and other serious incidents that have drastically changed their lives. Most people are aware that the State of Texas requires its citizens to carry insurance on their vehicle, some people are aware that the State requires these policies to provide at least $30,000 in coverage in the event that their negligent client causes harm to you, but very few people are aware of how the process actually works.

If you have been involved in an accident where insurance is involved, it is important to know and understand your rights. If there is an insurance policy involved in your accident, you will likely receive a call from an insurance adjuster very early on in the process. The adjuster will ask you to make a recorded or in person statement about how your accident occurred. While it is advisable to make this statement with an attorney on your side, it is not required.

The purpose of this statement is for the insurance company to determine who is liable for the accident. "Liable" being the legal term for who is at fault. After liability is determined, the insurance company for the party or parties deemed not to be at fault will quickly disappear. Even though it is possible that an insurance company will accept liability for your accident and that they will have adequate money to compensate you for your injuries or lost income per State law, final resolution of the case is unlikely to be easy and oftentimes is unfair.

Every dollar that an insurance company keeps away from you is a dollar retained for their profit, to sponsor Super Bowl commercials, to sponsor multiple spots in the baseball outfield. Even if the insurance company accepts liability for your accident, they will pursue every chance they have to limit the liability to 80%, to 60%, or lower, in order to pay you less. Was it sunny that day so you couldn't see clearly? When was your last phone call? You told the officer you weren't hurt that badly, right?

The insurance company will fight you for every dollar even though the State of Texas requires their client to pay them every single month. They sponsor baseball stadiums with their profits. Who is on your side?  

Further questions can be directed to the Fears | Nachawati Law Firm by emailing the lead personal injury lawyer, Majed Nachawati at mn@fnlawfirm.com, or by calling our office at 1.866.705.7584.

Texas Living Through Worst Wildfire Season in Years

In 2011, Texas has experienced the most intense and costly season of wildfires in memory. Out-of-control blazes have destroyed more than 5,000 square miles of land from the semi-desert of west Texas to the east Texas piney woods. It’s no surprise: the National Interagency Fire Center reports that 71 percent of Texas is in exceptional drought, the most severe category, and 21 percent of Texas is in extreme drought.

 

The summer fires this year are unique not only because of their size and severity, but also where they are starting. Homes in the Austin suburbs, lakefront property near Fort Worth, communities across the Gulf Coast, and the McDonald Observatory, a leading astronomical research facility, in far west Texas, are just some of the usually safe areas that have been threatened by this year’s extreme conditions.

 

With parts of Texas new to the threat of wildfires – and to the necessity of negotiating with tight-fisted insurance companies – many Texas policyholders need the help of experts to secure the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one is a victim of Texas wildfires, contact the insurance experts at Fears | Nachawati. For a free consultation, call us at 1.866.705.7584 or send an email to info@fnlawfirm.com

Hiring the Best Personal Injury Lawyer

People often do not know where to turn when it comes to dealing with a serious personal injury case or finding the best or top injury lawyers.  Here are some factors you should consider when it comes to hiring a personal injury lawyer:

Factors important in hiring the Best Personal Injury Lawyer:

1.  Has the lawyer or law firm your are considering hiring ever tried a lawsuit?  If so, when was their last trial and what was the outcome? 

2.  Has the lawyer you are considering hiring ever been disciplined by the State Bar of Texas? (check www.texasbar.com)

3.  Has the lawyer ever completed a judicial clerkship--a prestiguous honor bestowed on only approximately 2% of lawyers in the nation?

4. Does the lawyer you are considering hiring sound well-informed and knowledgeable regarding personal injury law?

5. Has the lawyer ever settled a case or tried a case and obtained a significant recovery?

6.  Does your lawyer have the necessary resources to prosecute your case?

7.  Can you relate to the lawyer and does your intuition tell you that the lawyer is trustworthy?

8.  Where did the lawyer go to law school, and more importantly, what has the lawyer's practical experience been since law school?  Remember, years of experience does not necessarily mean a more competent lawyer.

This list of factors is non-exclusive.  The author of this article, attorney, Majed Nachawati, is frequently quoted by newspapers, media, and has been recognized as a top lawyer.  Mr. Nachawati is a former judicial law clerk and has settled and tried numerous lawsuits to verdict resulting in large recoveries for his personal injury clients. Questions or comments can be emailed to mn@fnlawfirm.com or by telephone - 1.866.705.7584.

Personal Injury Mediation - What should I expect?

Mediation in personal injury cases typically occurs after a lawsuit is filed, but before a trial before a jury or judge takes place.  Once an injury suit is filed, mediation is usually your last chance to resolve your case, absent a full-blown trial, and , many cases in fact settle at mediation.  During mediation, the mediator is a neutral arbiter between the parties and their goal is to try and resolve the injury claim in a manner that all parties can live with.  Your lawyer should explain to you how mediation works well in advance.  Typically, mediation lasts a half day or a full day, depending on the complexity of the case.  At the beginning of mediation, parties meet in one conference room where your lawyer makes a short presentation to the mediator and the party being sued concerning the facts of your injury case.  Sometimes, the attorney for the party being sued responds with a brief statement and the parties then break into separate rooms.  The mediator typically goes back and forth into separate conference rooms with monetary offers.  If the parties to the injury suit can come together on a settlement, the mediator drafts a short settlement agreement and the injury claim is finalized usually within 30 days following mediation.  If however, the parties are unable to come together on a fair settlement, the case will go to trial.  It is important to ensure your lawyer is willing to go the distance and take your case to trial if necessary.  Lawyers at my firm, Fears | Nachawati, attend mediation frequently, and more importantly, will absolutely take a case to trial if the negligent party (at fault party) is unwilling to pay a fair and reasonable settlement amount. If you have an injury claim and need legal help or advice, contact me at mn@fnlawfirm.com or by phone - 1.866.705.7584.

Why Handling Your Own Personal Injury Claim is a Terrible Idea

Potential clients involved in an accident or injury claim that seek legal help or free advice from my law firm frequently ask this question--If I hire a lawyer and have to pay attorneys' fees, won't I end up getting less money in the end?

Nothing is guaranteed--however, I cannot remember a time when I had a client who, at first, was handling a claim on their own or was just about to settle with the insurance when they came to me with many questions and reservations about hiring a lawyer.  They trusted our law firm, and it proved to be worth it in the end.

A couple of questions should come to your mind (1) if you were in need of surgery, would you try to do the surgery yourself ? , (2) do you really have what it takes to take on Big Insurance and an insurance claims adjuster who handles thousands of claims a year?

Remember, the insurance adjuster is not under oath when they are dealing with you and they are frequently trained to do absolutely everything in their power to deny your injury claim or pay you as little as possible.  If you are thinking if it does not work out, I can always hire a lawyer later--think again. Commonly, people come in after trying to handle their injury claim with the "do it yourself" approach by giving the insurance company a statement unfavorable to their claim and missing crucial damages they are entitled to under the law. 

If you have an injury lawyer or law firm who works your claim diligently and aggressively, your decision to hire a lawyer is more often than not worth the time.  While most people are concerned about their property damage, I remind potential clients that vehicles can always be replaced, but you only get one body during your lifetime, if you do not look out for your health, who will?

Abraham Lincoln once said, "A man who represents himself has a fool for a client."  If you have legal questions or need help or need legal advice with your personal injury claim, feel free to email or call me - mn@fnlawfirm.com or 1.866.705-7584. 

 

Chiropractors Accused of Multistate Scam

As reported by the Dallas Morning News, Allstate Insurance Co. filed a lawsuit Thursday in Dallas against Chiropractic Strategies Group Inc. of Arlington, accusing it of orchestrating a multistate scam involving doctors, lawyers and telemarketers.

According to the lawsuit, telemarketers working for Chiropractic Strategies solicited auto accident victims to come in for a free check-up. Doctors would tell the patients they had severe injuries, while personal injury lawyers at the clinic would sign the patients up to participate in lawsuits against Allstate's auto insurance customers, the company alleged.

Representatives of Chiropractic Strategies did not return phone calls Thursday requesting comment. According to the lawsuit, the company is owned by Michael Kent Plambeck, 52, of Dallas.


Federal law cited

In the 67-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Allstate seeks more than $10 million against Chiropractic Strategies and other defendants for violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

"We're taking this action in an attempt to recover dollars from fraudulent claims paid by Allstate," said Bill Mellander, spokesman for Allstate's Special Investigative Unit.

"Those costs are passed on to the customer in the form of higher premiums."

Allstate's adjusters are trained to identify red flags, he said, such as similarities in dollar amounts or the wording on paperwork. The adjusters' questions are sent to Allstate's investigators, who can identify wider trends that may point to a scam.

"And that's exactly what happened here," Mr. Mellander said. "The majority of things usually passed along are totally legit."


Higher rates

Insurance fraud is a billion-dollar business that costs the average consumer $300 in higher insurance premiums every year, said Edward Moran, Allstate's assistant vice president over the investigation unit.

Mr. Mellander said telemarketers found prospective plaintiffs by poring through accident reports from 15 municipalities in Texas, eight in Ohio, one in Indiana and one in Alabama. Telemarketers working for Chiropractic Strategies in Kenner, La., would look at the accident reports to determine who was not at fault "and at times misrepresent themselves and say they are calling from Allstate," Mr. Mellander said.


Local clinics named

Allstate named seven Dallas-area clinics under Chiropractic Strategies' umbrella: Buckner 30 Chiropractic, Hampton Chiropractic, Webb Chapel Chiropractic, High Five Spine & Rehab, Grand Prairie Chiropractic, Haltom City Chiropractic and South Cooper Spine & Rehab.

Chiropractic Strategies, founded in 1984, has 180 employees in 17 locations who brought in $8.2 million in sales last year, according to commercial information company Dunn & Bradstreet.

Allstate, based in Northbrook, Ill., employs 2,500 people in Irving, including the Texas regional office and national groups handling claims, data and check processing, and special investigations.

Allstate Scheme

According to the Miami Herald, Allstate is facing contempt charges in Missouri -- with a $25,000-a-day fine -- and now it can't sell new auto policies in Florida, in part, because it wants to protect a report written by a corporate consultant.

Allstate has said those documents -- along with others that Florida regulators are seeking in their investigation into how the company sets insurance rates and pays claims -- are trade secrets.

What's so important that Allstate would risk so much?

According to an attorney who has seen the report from consultant McKinsey & Co., it advises Allstate on how to improve profitability: pay less on claims and take a longer time to pay those claims.
''The documents describe, in graphic terms, a scheme devised by Allstate and McKinsey & Co. to essentially turn the business of insurance into a zero-sum game,'' said David Bernardinelli, a Santa Fe, N.M., plaintiff attorney involved in a case against Allstate. He says he is the only person outside Allstate to have seen the report.
An Allstate spokesman didn't return a call seeking comment late Wednesday.

In the early 1990s, the corporate consultant advised Allstate to get tough with policyholders. Consumers who didn't accept a settlement offer from Allstate would have to fight in court to get their claims paid.
''This is the new insurance world that was created by McKinsey for a lot of insurers,'' Bernardinelli said.

Indeed, McKinsey did work for other companies, including State Farm. This insurer said it hasn't used McKinsey's services for more than a decade, according to a State Farm spokesman.

How did Bernardinelli get the report? In 2001, he was litigating a case against Allstate. He learned of the report and demanded to see it.

Allstate refused, claiming it contained trade secrets. It provided the same rebuff to the subpoena from Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation this week.

Bernardinelli got a break when a Santa Fe court judge ordered the insurer to provide Bernardinelli with a copy without any protective order.
After several attempts to block the judge's order, Allstate provided Bernardinelli a temporary set of documents while its appeal of the order was pending. The documents were printed in such a way that prevented him from copying or scanning them.
He spent two months going through 12,000 documents, reading them and taking copious notes. He ended up with 400 pages of notes.

In 2004, a Missouri court of appeals dismissed Allstate's appeal, and the company was once again ordered to provide the attorney with the documents. He turned over the set he had and demanded a clean set he could use in trials.

Allstate has refused again, and the case has gone to the Missouri Supreme Court.