Don’t let your insurance company fool you – they’re not in the business to give you a fair settlement for your slip and fall claim; they’re in the business to make (and keep) money.
Claims Adjusters Use Five Common Tactics to Deny Your Claim
1. Denying Liability
Adjusters are notorious for trying to direct all the blame for an injury on the person who is hurt. It can be particularly difficult to prove negligence of a property owner in slip and fall cases because it is easy to put some blame on the victim.
Their main goal is reducing the amount of money their company pays out for claims. A great way for them to do that is by taking advantage of Florida’s Comparative Fault Law which reduces the amount of any award at trial by the percentage of fault placed on the injured person. Even if you haven’t filed a lawsuit, insurance adjusters know this rule will apply in a trial so they apply it to your claim.
Whether you slipped on a wet floor or fell through a rotten floorboard, the adjuster will likely question your decisions such as your choice of footwear, whether you held a handrail, your pace of walking or running, what you were carrying and where you were looking. They will argue that whatever caused your injury was open and obvious so that any reasonable person would have avoided it.
2. Recorded Statements
You’ll be pressured abruptly to give a recorded account of how you were injured, and often in the haste, you’ll admit to things that can harm your Florida slip and fall claim and may not even be true.
They will ask you questions like, “how could you have avoided the fall?” and “why didn’t you…?” all to find ways you could have avoided the incident, without discussing the danger of the slippery floors or the sudden and unmarked change in elevation. They also use double negatives and ask questions that are worded so as to confuse you.
It is smart to want to report what happened to the property owner or fill out an incident report after a fall, but do not talk to anyone from the insurance company before speaking to an attorney! Your attorney can typically answer the adjuster’s questions for you or with you so you don’t fall into one of these classic traps.
3. Signing Medical Authorizations
By signing a medical authorization you’re giving the defense access to your medical history, meaning they can look for related past injuries and argue your current injuries were pre-existing.
Signing a medical authorization is a bad idea even when you don’t have a history of similar injuries. Why? Think about the last time you reviewed your medical chart. Likely, you have never even thought about it.
We review all of our clients’ charts and often find things which are totally false or a slight misstatement which can hurt an insurance claim. One of our favorite examples involves a client who complained to his doctor of being in such pain that he was unable to do anything other than lay on the couch after a collision. His doctor noted that in his medical records as “patient hurt back lifting couch.” Just like any of us, when doctors don’t give their clients full attention, mistakes are made.
4. Settlement on the Spot
You may be offered an immediate settlement (which will most likely be far too little to compensate you for all your damages) and asked to sign a full release. If you do this without consulting your attorney first, you may be signing away your rights to seek compensation at a later time.
Injuries tend to worsen before they improve. A swollen ankle you think will heal with time may be broken or require surgery to repair a torn ligament. When an adjuster offers to settle with you right away, you should be cautious. Know that offer will likely still be on the table in a few weeks or months after you are sure you don’t need further care.
We make it a practice to never accept a settlement for less than the full policy limits on behalf of our clients unless they are done with their required medical treatment and know what future care they will need. Imagine how devastating it is for people who accept $1,000 because they think it’s a great deal only to need surgery in a few months and not be able to afford it. Don’t let that happen to you. Always contact an attorney before accepting anything.
5. Persuading You NOT to Hire an Attorney
The claims adjuster will try to convince you that they’re committed to getting you a fair settlement, and you don’t need an attorney. They will seem very kind and considerate on the phone. They just want your claim to go away as quietly and for as little money as possible.
The truth is, without an attorney on your side, you probably won’t have a very good idea of what’s fair in a settlement offer or not, if you even get one. Don’t just take the insurance company’s word as truth. Whether your slip and fall claim is outright denied or you get an offer, seek a second opinion from an experienced personal injury attorney.
If your claim is really simple enough that you can get a comparable settlement on your own, most attorneys will let you know up front.
If you or a loved one was injured or passed away as a result of falling on someone else’s property, get our free guide Dangerous Trips to Avoid in Your Fall Case and contact our office to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.