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It helps to know a little about medicine

I have been on a roll the last couple weeks with the theme of debunking what some insurance adjusters would have you believe.

This week’s posting will stick with that theme. It will also reinforce a comment I have made previously that you need to know a little medicine to protect yourself from being taken advantage of by the insurance company.

What’s particularly despicable about the bunk this week is that the elderly are the most vulnerable to it. I was reminded of this a few days ago when a senior called me about her crash claim. I’ll call her Ida.

Since the crash, Ida has had chronic neck pain and stiffness. Until the crash, she enjoyed more than 60 years free from neck pain.

Unless we are born into privilege, or get really, really lucky, we work most of our lives so we can enjoy a few years—perhaps a decade or two—of the good life.

For Ida, the good life has been transformed by the negligence of a bad driver into a time of pain instead of a time of pleasure.

Of course, the negligent driver’s insurance company is going to try to find a way to convince Ida that something else is to blame.

If it is able to baffle her with bunk, it will be may be able to convince her to accept a lower settlement.

And that’s precisely what it is trying to do. It has an x-ray of Ida’s neck. The x-ray shows that the bones in her neck, the vertebrae, have deteriorated.

The company is pointing to that x-ray and telling Ida that’s the reason she is having neck pain. The bones in her neck are a mess, it says and it is her bad neck, not the car crash, that is to blame.

I wonder how many of you have been fed that line.

It can be very effective. There’s a ring of logic to it. Perhaps this is what you should have expected from aging. The vertebrae really do look like they’re in bad shape. Perhaps it would be unfair to expect the insurance company to fully compensate you for having to suffer pain during your senior years.

You aren’t looking for anything but a fair result. The last thing you want to be perceived doing is trying to screw the insurance company. Your life has been typified by honesty and fairness.

Let me tell you a little about my version of fairness and honesty.

My version of fairness and honesty would have the insurance adjuster tell you about the medical statistics that show that there is no reliable correlation between the level of wear and tear in your vertebrae and your symptoms.

It’s true. There are people with lots of wear and tear and no symptoms. There are people with less wear and tear and lots of symptoms. The amount of wear and tear (degeneration) is a very poor predictor of symptoms.

We all have degeneration in our necks. Well, perhaps the two year olds among us are exempt, but give me anyone from age 20 to 80 and there will be some degree of wear and tear in the vertebrae of their necks.

Life causes gradual damage to those bones.

Some of us have more damage than others. Some of us have neck pain and some of us don’t. There’s no statistical connection.

No, Ida was not destined to suffer neck pain during her retirement years. She has neck pain because her neck was injured in a car crash.

Don’t let yourself be swindled by bunk like this. Lawyers with personal injury experience make it their business to know enough medicine to smell this kind of bunk from a mile away.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of for refusing to settle based on the one sided bunk you might have been fed by an insurance adjuster. I feel the need to give you another reminder of something I comment on from time to time in this column.

Insurance adjusters are just doing their jobs. The insurance industry is profit driven just like the other industries.

When settling your injury claim, the insurance adjuster’s duty is only to his or her employer, and that duty is to settle the claim for as little money as possible.

Published April 13, 2008 in the Kelowna Capital News