After an accident, Insurance adjusters don’t play fair. Know what to expect, and don’t fall for their tricks.
In a perfect world, insurance companies would simply pay victims what they’re owed following a serious car accident. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters often unfairly deny claims, blatantly lie to claimants, and will use every trick in the book to skirt liability.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, the most important thing you can do is file a claim with the insurance company and then speak to an attorney. Most of us have dealt with the insurance claims process before, but understand that your personal injury claim (which is separate from your property damage claim) will be heavily scrutinized by the insurance adjuster.
Filing your claim is only the beginning of the process. Without an attorney handling this process for you, you are almost guaranteed to face a drawn out, one-sided battle with the insurance company. While they may try to offer you a settlement before you even know the full extent of your medical expenses and other damages, they only do this for their own benefit. They may tell you that you don’t need an attorney because they’ve already accepted liability, only to later (months down the line) reverse course and claim that you were partially (or fully) to blame.
Victims of car accidents are essentially at the mercy of the claims adjuster. If the adjuster denies your claim, your only option is to file a lawsuit. Adjusters know that people are hesitant to hire an attorney (even though personal injury lawyers work on a no-win no-fee basis), which is why they will take advantage of you at every opportunity.
Claims adjusters spend most of their day investigating insurance claims by collecting statements, consulting police and hospital records, inspecting property damage, and looking at how similar claims have played out in the past. The only thing is, they’re only looking at it from one side. Their ONLY goal is to save the insurance company money by paying out as little as possible on every single claim.
You would think that a claims adjuster would be required to look at the accident from an objective point of view (or at least follow a set of guidelines) before denying a claim, but that’s simply not the case. There is no law that requires insurance companies to pay out on ANY claim unless a settlement agreement has been made (and signed) or they’re compelled to do so by a court order.
This next part of this article will look into some of the most-common tricks, lies, and shady tactics that claims adjusters and insurance companies employ, as well as how best to avoid them.
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Can Insurance Adjusters Lie to You?
Yes, insurance adjusters are allowed to lie to you. In fact, many are even encouraged to do so. An adjuster might tell you that the other vehicle has no coverage when they know it does. They’ll claim that they can’t contact the other driver for weeks on end. They may even tell you that they’re accepting liability up front—only to put 50 percent of the blame onto you when it comes time to settle.
The truth is that without an attorney, the insurance company sees you as an easy target. They’ve defended thousands of cases just like yours, and they know every trick in the book. As someone who deals with insurance adjusters on a daily basis myself, I strongly advise you to take everything they say with a grain of salt.
Scouring Your Social Media Accounts
It’s surprisingly common nowadays for insurance companies to delve into your social media accounts and online activity simply because you filed a claim. Make no mistake, the only reason they’re looking through your Facebook profile or Twitter feed is to find dirt they can use to lower the value of your claim.
If you post a status update telling friends and family that you’re feeling “okay” following your car accident, they’ll use this statement in order to deny your entire injury claim. If you’ve posted about previous injuries in the past, they’ll claim that your current injuries are related and deny liability. Have you ever taken a photo or video while driving and posted it to Snapchat? They’ve likely already downloaded a copy which they’ll use to claim that you are a bad driver and likely shared fault for the crash.
Making a Recorded Statement
When someone files a car accident injury claim, the insurance company will ask the claimant and/or policy holder to provide a brief recorded statement over the phone detailing the facts of accident and how it occurred. They’ll often say that giving them a recorded statement will speed up the claims process, but in reality, they’re only hoping to use your own words against you.
Making a recorded statement at this point of your claim is problematic for many reasons. If all the facts are not readily available (or are still unclear) to you, then you may very well make a seemingly-innocent comment that can jeopardize your entire claim. What if you forget a fact or later discover pertinent information that fundamentally changes your frame of reference?
Additionally, you may not have a full understanding of the extent of your injuries at this point. Some types of injuries (e.g., whiplash, soft tissue injuries, internal damage, etc.) can take days or weeks to present themselves—especially if you have other significant injuries. What may initially seem like a sprained knee may develop into a permanent disability, but if you didn’t know that at the time of your recorded statement, the insurance company will use your own words against you.
When making a recorded statement to the insurance company, you want to ensure that you are honest and forthcoming at all times, but stick to the facts. You do not need to answer personal questions, discuss your medical treatment to this point, or opine on any facts of the case that you are not 100% sure of. The best thing you can do is speak to an attorney before making a statement, and have them advise you how to best move forward.
The biggest part of any car accident injury claim is liability, which is the first thing that the insurance company will look at. Did their driver miss a payment on their policy? Claim denied. Was the collision caused by anything other than their driver’s negligence? Claim denied. Could it be argued (even if a stretch) that both parties are equally to blame? Claim denied.
The thing is, insurance companies don’t owe you anything if their driver wasn’t at least 51% at fault for the accident, and any percentage of liability that they can place onto you reduces their overall liability. Even in cases where it’s obvious that their driver was 100% to blame, the insurance company will almost always claim that you failed to take preventative measures and thus share in liability—even if that assessment is completely unfounded. This is a very common tactic used by insurance companies in an attempt to unfairly reduce the value of your claim.
How To Scare an Insurance Adjuster
The only way to truly scare an insurance adjuster is to hire an attorney. The unfortunate truth is that insurance companies hold all the leverage when it comes to a car accident injury claim. During the claims process, the insurance company controls everything. They get to decide who’s at fault, how much your injuries are worth, whether or not to extend a settlement offer, and they can take as much time as they please.
Insurance adjusters know that unless you have an attorney willing to take them to court, they have the ultimate authority when it comes to your claim. You can threaten to sue all you want, but the insurance company has no reason to take these threats seriously until an attorney sends them a letter of representation on your behalf.
Low-Ball Settlement Offers
Insurance companies will never offer an unrepresented claimant the full value of their claim. It’s just not in the best interests of the insurance company to pay a dollar more than they can get away with, even when it’s the decent thing to do.
If they can get you to settle, you waive all rights to pursue any additional compensation later. If you accept a settlement offer early on and later discover that your damages are much higher than you originally thought, guess what? They don’t owe you a penny more than what you previously settled for. This happens all the time, and is why you shouldn’t even entertain the idea of a settlement before you have completely finished treatment.
If you’re eventually given a low ball settlement offer by the insurance company, there are ways to fight back. The unfortunate truth is that without an attorney handling your claim, you’re simply at the mercy of the insurance company. They’re under no legal obligation to pay out on any claim unless compelled to do so by court order.
Insurance companies know that victims are in a tough spot after an accident, and will use this to their advantage. Many accident victims end up accepting a settlement worth a mere fraction of what they’re truly owed simply because they’re tired of fighting—or because they don’t realize that a personal injury attorney can fight the insurance company for them at no out of pocket cost.
Why You Should Consider Hiring an Attorney
Has the insurance company unfairly denied your claim? Has the insurance adjuster lied to you? At Montgomery Law, we’ve been around the block a time or two and know how to deal with these underhanded tactics. We will not let the insurance company dictate the process, and will fight for every penny you deserve. Consultations are always free, and we never charge attorneys fees unless (and until) we win.
If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them for you. If you’d like to have us review your case and determine whether or not we can help, contact us today at 214-720-6090 (local) or 1-833-720-6090 (toll-free), or send us an email directly from our website. The earlier we can get started on your claim, the better chance you’ll have at recovering the compensation you’re truly owed.