Being in an automobile accident is stressful. Dealing with an adverse insurance adjuster can be very frustrating and can hurt your case if you are not careful.
Here are five things that adverse insurance adjusters wish you did not know.
1. Taking Responsibility Does Not Mean Paying Fair Compensation
One trick that adjusters use all the time to deter people from hiring a personal injury attorney is to indicate that they “accept responsibility” or that they acknowledge that their insured was at fault for the accident. This admission is usually made in the first or second contact by the adjuster, with the effect of the victim believing that they can handle the case himself or herself without involving an attorney.
Because the victim now believes that the insurance company has accepted responsibility, they mistakenly assume that they will be paid fairly for their injuries.
This trick is especially effective because many people who need an attorney believe that they can handle the claim themselves and only learn that they cannot when they first discuss money with the adjuster.
Sadly, all too often, the damage has been done to the case by the failure of the victim to hire an attorney early in the process.
The general rule is the more serious your injury the more likely you are to need an attorney to obtain fair value from an insurance company. The earlier you retain an injury attorney the better chance you have for a full and fair settlement.
2. You Don’t Have to Give a Recorded Statement
Many adjusters call and tell an innocent victim that they must make a statement, or the adjuster will not be able to pay compensation on the claim.
Usually, this is at this stage of the property damage claim and the accident victim feels pressure to give a recorded statement.
There are some cases where you may be obligated to give a statement such as when you are dealing with your own insurance company. Even then, prior to giving a statement to your own insurance company, you should take advantage of a consultation with an auto accident attorney.
With a third-party insurance company, you are never obligated to give a statement. The easy way out is just to say no and then call the best car accident lawyer near you.
3. If You Do Give a Statement It Will Be Used Against You
Giving a statement to an adverse insurance company is almost always a mistake. Insurance adjusters learn how to take statements in a manner that is likely to elicit admissions from the victim.
The purpose of the statement from the adverse carrier is not to learn your side of the story, or even learn of your injuries. It is to get things on the record that can undermine or hurt your case.
You can expect questions relating to how the accident happened with an eye toward what your potential responsibility may have been, even when it’s clearly the other person’s fault. Here are examples:
- Were you wearing your seatbelt?
- When did you first see the other vehicle?
- Did you hit your brakes?
- Where were your eyes looking?
- Do you have a cell phone? Were you on the phone? What is your cell phone number? Who is your provider?
- What did you do to avoid the crash?
As you can see, the questions are clearly designed to get responses that may be able to help defend the case. Some of the questions that you will be asked to serve no purpose other than to potentially help in the defense of the case.
4. The Insurance Company Will Take Issue With Your Medical Treatment
To the surprise of many, especially after they have been told that the insurance company is assuming responsibility for the claim, the adjuster will take issue with the medical treatment that your doctors provided to you.
You will hear things such as “we didn’t include that”, “we don’t allow that” or similar phrases that indicate your medical treatment, which your doctors felt was necessary, was not satisfactory to the insurance company at this point. This is a method designed to reduce what they may have to pay if you fall for it!
These statements do not necessarily mean your medical treatment was unnecessary or unreasonable — only that the insurance company will use whatever tactics they can to reduce or try to reduce what they must pay for the case. This is a particularly nasty approach because if you fall for it, you will be paying for medical treatment that was caused by the defendant’s conduct.
The best way to combat this is to hire an attorney to handle the claim for you.
5. A Serious Injury Requires a Personal Injury Attorney
The truth of the matter is that in cases of a very serious injury, such as one involving surgery or permanent disability, a personal injury attorney is necessary to get full and fair value for your claim. The more serious the case, the more you need an attorney to help you.
Insurance companies do not get their name on huge skyscrapers by paying fair value to those to whom they can pay less than fair value. Additionally, there are many issues such as healthcare reimbursements that must be dealt with to maximize a personal injury settlement for the victim.
According to Baumgartner Law Firm, there are studies that show people who hire an attorney for an injury accident net more money than those who handled their cases on their own.
With a serious injury, you need a very serious attorney to help you, and hiring one early in the process can be an important first step. Choose an attorney with a track record of success in the type of case that you have and not a lawyer who may occasionally handle a case like yours.