Once you get in an accident you should consider yourself at odds with insurance companies. The insurance industry has spent billions of dollars creating myths about how out of control the justice system is because people file too many frivolous lawsuits. This in turn leads people to be distrustful of those who seek compensation for their injuries and the lawyers who represent them. The reality, however, is that the insurance industry wants to save money. Insurance adjusters are trained and evaluated on how well they can settle a claim for as little money as possible. They will use carefully designed tactics to minimize the amount of money they will pay on your claim. Below are six common tactics to watch out for that insurance adjusters attempt when seeking to lower the value of your claim.
First: Deny Liability
An insurance company’s goal is to deny liability. They immediately look for arguments that their insured was not at fault and that you were entirely responsible or at least partially at fault. For example, they may use an erroneous description of the accident in a police report. They hope to avoid paying your claim even though the evidence shows their driver was at fault.
Second: Recorded Statement
Insurance adjusters are trained to get a recorded statement of the victim after the accident. They will call at the earliest possible opportunity and market themselves as your friend. They will try to put you at ease by saying they would like to get your claim resolved, but their goal is to obtain harmful admission about how the accident occurred, or to minimize injury complaints and the need for medical care. Often the adjuster will attempt to obtain a statement where the victim says they feel fine or feel good and don’t need to see a doctor. But when the victim’s condition worsens, requiring extensive medical treatment, they are left to later explain why they made such earlier admissions, making it appear like they have changed their story.
Third: Obtaining a Signed Medical Authorization
The adjuster would love to have the victim sign a general, unrestricted medical authorization giving the insurance company the right to request medical records from any medical provider they can find. While we do not play hide the ball with your medical records, we certainly need to know what medical records the insurance adjuster has in their possession. Additionally, the adjuster has no need to have your records unless a claim has been made seeking compensation for injuries received in an accident.
Fourth: Quick Settlement with a Full Release
A very common tactic is to contact the victim quickly after an accident and offer them a small amount of money to settle any potential claim. This will usually happen before the victim has even visited a doctor. Many serious injuries are not readily apparent right after an accident and may take weeks to fully manifest. Insurance adjusters know this and that is why they will sometimes aggressively pursue people injured in a car accident, trying to get them to settle for $500, $1000, or $1500. The condition, of course, is giving the adjuster a signed release of all claims, thereby legally barring you from pursuing any future recovery.
Fifth: Convincing the Accident Victim that an Adjuster is Fair and a Lawyer is Too Expensive
Lawyers regularly deal with clients who have been contacted by an adjuster who has assured them their claim will be fairly evaluated and they do not need a lawyer. Adjusters do this to save money. They understand claims settle for larger amounts when clients are represented by a lawyer. The job of an adjuster is to minimize the amount of money they pay in settlement of any claim. They also know the injured party has typically never attempted to place a value on any injury and generally has no experience negotiating. Dealing with an adjuster on your own is not a level playing field and they know it.
It must be assumed that anyone with a significant injury in an accident will be under surveillance. Adjusters hire investigators to photograph and video tape accident victims bending over to pick up the newspaper, walking their dog, or carrying groceries. They are looking for evidence of any actions which appear to be inconsistent with any physical limitations claimed. Often at trial, they will attempt to introduce the surveillance as evidence against the victim. Without a lawyer, the victim may not be careful in describing their limitations and may make statements that conflict with what the surveillance appears to show.
These are just a few of the tactics the insurance industry uses. At Jim Dodson Law we have years of experience negotiating with insurance companies. We are familiar with these issues and we are ready to confront them aggressively on your behalf. If you have been injured in an accident and you feel the insurance companies are attempting these tactics on you, call us at 727-446-0840. We only charge you if we win at trial or settle your case.