Some Insurance Carriers Engage in The Unauthorized Practice of Law to Minimize Payouts to Injured Parties
INSURANCE COMPANIES WHO ADVISE CLAIMANTS NOT TO RETAIN COUNSEL ENGAGE IN THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW
Some insurance companies have engaged in the unethical practice of advising adverse claimants that they don’t need to hire a lawyer to represent them in a personal injury claim or that they would otherwise be better off if they didn’t consult with an attorney. These "Don’t Hire a Lawyer" campaigns are not only predicated upon a conflict of interest, they also have been found to be the unauthorized practice of law.
In Idaho, the unauthorized practice of law constitutes a misdemeanor for contempt of court punishable by the imposition of a jail sentence, fine or both. Idaho Code § 3-104.
AN INDEPENDENT PUBLISHED STUDY BY THE RAND CORPORATION FOUND THAT CLAIMANTS WHO HIRE COUNSEL ARE BETTER OFF THAN THOSE WHO DO NOT.
Of course, the reason some insurance companies take such drastic measure of advising adverse claimants not to hire counsel is due to the fact that there are published studies that show that claimants seeking a recovery for personal injuries as a whole are better off retaining a lawyer. See, e.g., "Automobile Accident Compensation: Vol.1 Who Pays How Much How Soon?" at http://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/R3050.html. It is no surprise that claimants in every state surveyed showed that victims of personal injury obtained a higher net recovery after having retained an attorney than those who did not. In some states, it was also determined that the relationship between an insurance carrier’s payment for general damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium and the like in relationship to the claimant’s medical expenses were highly dependent upon whether the claimant had retained an attorney or not.
Telling someone not to hire counsel constitutes in and of itself legal advice, and unless the claim representative is licensed to practice law in the State of Idaho, such a statement constitutes the illegal unauthorized practice of law. Even where the adverse claims adjuster is a bona fide attorney, the attorney in such situation has a blatant conflict of interest.
I have previously written about the tricks rendered by some insurance carriers in trying to gain a tactical advantage over an unsuspecting claimant by (1) demanding that a claimant submit to a recorded cross-examination by the adverse claims adjuster before agreeing to process a claim for bodily injury or (2) having the claimant sign an overly broad blanket authorization that constitutes nothing more than a license to engage in a fishing expedition into matters that are privileged and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
Now to complete the trifecta of unfair claims settlement practices, desperate claims representatives and/or agents will try to convince a claimant into thinking that it is in the claimant’s best interest not to consult with a licensed attorney in order to keep the claimant in the dark regarding the claimant’s legal rights and remedies as well as the true value of the Claimant's claim.
For the reasons cited above, it is always in a claimant’s best interest to seek and obtain an initial free consultation with an experienced trial attorney to discuss your legal rights and remedies. Boise Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Trial Attorney has over 31 years of experience in handling personal injury and insurance disputes over a variety of injury and death claims in and out of the State of Idaho. Mr. Morton is available to meet with you at his office or your home, workplace, hospital or any other convenient place to discuss the facts of your claim in confidential setting to provide you with information concerning your legal rights and remedies. You may call Mr. Morton’s office to schedule an initial free consultation at 208.344.5555 or toll free at 888.716.8021 or by completing the initial contact information form online.
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