When someone is injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they usually need to deal with the other party’s insurance company in order to recover compensation for their injuries. This process starts when you file an insurance claim. And for most people, this is their first time dealing with an insurance adjuster.
Without having dealt with this situation before, it is easy to fall into one of the traps set by the insurance company to weaken your case. Insurance companies will employ all kinds of tactics toward accomplishing this goal, and it is important to be aware of these ahead of time.
Here are five of the most common tactics used by insurance companies during a personal injury case:
Contacting Injury Victims Soon after the Accident
One of the first things an insurance adjuster is likely to do is call you up within just a few days after you are hurt to talk about your claim. This is usually presented as a “courtesy call” to find out how you are doing and reassure you that you will be “taken care of”. The goal of this call is to build rapport and get you to trust the adjuster to fairly process your claim. Their hope is to get a hold of you before you have had a chance to speak with an attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.
The main thing to remember during this conversation is that, no matter how friendly the adjuster is, their interests are not aligned with yours. They work for the insurance company, after all. So, their main goal is to protect the bottom line of their employer. With this in mind, be friendly and professional with the adjuster, but be very careful what you tell them. NEVER admit to any kind of fault for the accident, and if they want to know anything about how badly you were hurt, tell them you have to wait until you have a full medical report before you will know the extent of your injuries.
Requesting a Recorded Statement
This tactic is usually a follow-up to first tactic of earning your trust. Oftentimes, the insurance company will ask you to give them a recorded statement, presenting this as a formality that is needed to help process your claim. The truth is that recorded statements are not required, and the only real purpose for them is so that the insurance company has you on tape saying something that may undermine your case. For example, they are hoping that you will apologize for something, admit some kind of fault, or say something definitive about your injuries before everything is known. Never provide a recorded statement to the insurance company without first consulting with your attorney.
Requesting a Medical Release
Another request that is often presented as a formality to move the claim along is the request for a medical release. They might say that they need a piece of information in order to pay your medical bills, so they need you to sign the release in order for them to obtain it. But in doing so, you are giving them the right to look at your entire medical history, and the only purpose for them needing to do that is to look for something that they can use (such as a preexisting medical condition) to evade responsibility for your injuries. Know your rights and never give more information than you are required to.
Making a Lowball Settlement Offer
Insurance adjusters know that those who have been injured in an accident are often out of work for a while and dealing with tight finances. They frequently try to take advantage of this situation by making a quick settlement offer. They want to get to to agree to a settlement before you know the full extent of your injuries and how much compensation you are really entitled to. Before accepting any type of settlement offer from an insurance company, always have your case reviewed by a skilled accident injury lawyer.
Unnecessarily Delaying the Claim
If you do not provide the recorded statement or medical release they request, and/or you do not accept their lowball offer, they may try to frustrate you by delaying your claim. They may go long periods without communicating with you, even several months or longer. By “going dark”, they hope to convince you that you have no other alternative than to accept their offer. By delaying the claim, they are also running out the clock on the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit. In Virginia, the deadline for most cases is two years, which can go by fast if you are not hearing from the insurance company for several months at a time.
Contact an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you need someone looking out for your interests and fighting hard to obtain the full and fair compensation you need and deserve. At the Straw Law Firm, we are here to help! Call our office today at (434) 616-2760 for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Forest, VA office in person at your convenience.