When it’s another person’s fault that you get injured, it’s usually their insurance company who’s responsible for paying for your injuries. Unfortunately, insurance company delay tactics commonly get in the way of getting the compensation you need.
Insurance companies are businesses that, like any other, are primarily concerned with their bottom line. They don’t want to pay you any more than they have to. You should realize that when the insurance adjuster calls, it isn’t because they want to give you the fair compensation you need and deserve. They’re assuming you are naïve about the law and your legal rights. They’re often willing to resort to any tactic they know to keep from paying you anything or, at least, minimizing the amount they have to pay.
Below are some of the most common insurance company delay tactics used to deny or devalue claims after injuries from a car accident or any other type of personal injury. Knowing your legal rights will help prepare you in case you’re ever injured because of another person’s actions or negligence.
1. Calling You Right After Your Injury
The insurance adjuster might contact you right after the injury. You might even find a message on your phone when you get home from the injury-causing accident! The reason for the urgency is to catch you off-guard and in a vulnerable situation. They know you haven’t had a lot of time to talk with a personal injury attorney and learn your rights.
Many injuries don’t show up right away. If the insurance adjuster asks how you’re doing, you might sincerely respond with an “okay.” After providing you with some seemingly heartfelt compassion, he might acknowledge that his client was at fault. He sounds like he’s in complete agreement about how the incident occurred. What he’s really doing is using a common tactic to instill trust in you. That’s the first step towards getting you to let your guard down and provide information that they will use against you later.
2. Requesting a Recorded Statement
Since they’re the ones paying you, it seems reasonable that the insurance adjuster wants to hear your side of the story. You think that telling the truth about what happened and how your injuries occurred will reinforce your claim. Remember that providing fair compensation isn’t their primary goal. A recording, in your own words, about the extent of your injuries before you really know what they are is a valuable tool for the at-fault party’s insurance company.
3. Offering You a Quick Settlement
When it’s obvious that the other party is at-fault, the insurance adjuster’s tactics change from trying to prevent paying you anything to reducing the amount they pay. One of the most common insurance company delay tactics used for this purpose is to make you an offer really soon. Many people believe the initial offer is the only choice they have. It might also sound like a lot of money when it’s still early and the totality of your injuries aren’t known. Once you sign an agreement, you can’t pursue any additional compensation in the future if you get worse or require extended medical treatment. Never agree to a settlement without the advice of an attorney who knows the value of your claim. You could end up getting a lot less than you need for your medical treatment.
4. Requesting Your Signature on a Medical Authorization Form
The insurance adjuster might approach this in several different ways. Whatever they tell you to get your signature, it gives them blanket coverage to assess information that they couldn’t otherwise obtain. Don’t let the insurance adjuster convince you that he needs your medical authorization to obtain your medical bills. He’ll use the signed form to obtain proof of prior injuries, complaints of pain, or any other information that could disprove your claim.
One of the most common insurance company delay tactics is claiming that your injuries existed before the accident. Another is to try and disprove that you have an injury at all. Even if the accident only made existing injuries worse, you still have the right to compensation for your current treatment needs. The only time you should agree to sign a medical authorization is under the guidance of your attorney.
5. Denying Liability
Liability is always important when it comes to making a claim. In comparative negligence states, anyone who is considered even partly at-fault for their own injuries can have their compensation reduced. A few states including Maryland still observe contributory negligence laws. Under these laws, being even the tiniest portion at fault for your own injuries can prevent you from collecting anything at all.
Contributory negligence makes it even more beneficial for the insurance company to claim you were partly at fault. If they are successful at blaming you, then they can prevent paying anything. Many insurance companies use this tactic because they don’t have anything to lose but they do have everything to gain.
Similarly, the insurance adjuster might claim that their client isn’t liable because it isn’t possible that the incident caused your injuries. Even if there isn’t any doubt about who caused the incident, the injury itself comes into question.
The laws differ among states about whether you can still file a claim and/or receive compensation if you have any liability. It’s always in your best interest to talk with an attorney who knows the laws and your rights in your state.
6. Putting the Brakes on Your Medical Treatment
You need compensation for your injuries to pay your medical bills. Sometimes insurance companies dispute some of the costs for medical treatment as a means to devalue your claim. One way they do that is by claiming your injury couldn’t be as severe as you claimed. They might also make claims that your treatment was excessive or that you should have recovered faster.
Another approach is when the adjuster tries to persuade you to stop getting treatment. He might say insurance doesn’t pay for treatment beyond a certain point or due to specific conditions. Stopping treatment early could result in your not getting well as quickly or even getting worse. It also provides the insurance company with a record of your having failed to get treatment, making your injury less credible. The insurance company will argue that your injury isn’t as severe as you claimed because you didn’t even need treatment.
Insurance adjusters are trained to find areas of conflict from insurance claims. The systems they use often bring up red flags to alert them to issues where they might make an argument against the claim. One of these red flags is a delay in treatment or treatment that lasts a long amount of time. But the system doesn’t know how severe your injuries are or how long you need treatment. Don’t listen to insurance company delay tactics that prevent you from getting compensation and treatment for your injuries.
7. Misrepresenting the Available Coverage Amount
Insurance adjusters aren’t always honest about the amount of funds available to pay for your claim. When dealing with auto insurance, the at-fault driver’s limits of coverage might be higher than the insurance company wants you to believe. An attorney can find out the policy limits and help you get a fair settlement for your injuries.
8. Misrepresenting the Law
You expect an insurance adjuster to have some knowledge and authority about what they can and will pay. But they might tell you that you’re not entitled to damages for pain and suffering or that there’s a limit on how much you can recover. If you’ve missed work due to your injury, they might tell you there’s no recovery permitted for your lost wages. They use their knowledge to try and take advantage of your lack of knowledge about how the law works. Like all insurance company delay tactics, insurance companies use this tactic to pay you less.
Never accept legal advice from the at-fault party, their insurance company, or any representative in the case. There are two sides to every accident claim and they are rarely in agreement. If someone else causes you to get injured and they cause damage to your property, you deserve full compensation for both. An experienced attorney who is on your side of the case is the only person you should trust for legal advice.
9. Using Insurance Company Delay Tactics to Get You to Give Up
An injury often puts people in financial strain in several ways, You might miss time from work, incur huge medical bills, and need your car fixed. Even with health insurance, you must pay co-pays, deductibles, and uncovered services out-of-pocket. Financial difficulties often set in right after an injury, causing additional stress and making it difficult to focus on getting better.
The insurance company knows this is when you’re most vulnerable. They use your situation to their advantage by repeatedly postponing your claim. The continued rejection and the hassle of fighting them might wear you down. The insurance adjuster wants nothing more than to wear you down and make you give up. An attorney will help reduce your stress by dealing with the insurance company. He knows what kinds of tactics they resort to and what your rights are under the law.
10. Trying to Persuade You That You Don’t Need an Attorney
The processes you go through after an accident involve several professionals. A law enforcement agent comes to the scene to gather information about how the accident happened and who was involved. The officer makes a report that other professionals in the process will use along the way.
When you go to the hospital or healthcare provider, you see multiple professionals. Physicians, lab technicians, nurses, surgeons, and other specialists work as a team to diagnose and treat your injury. If you get medications, you go to a pharmacist. You might rely on therapists to restore movement and help you heal. You send your car to a mechanic for repairs and trust that they know how to restore it.
Hiring any professional means having access to specialized knowledge. That includes hiring an attorney who knows the law and will fight for your rights. People who need an attorney for the first time often worry that it will only add to their expenses. They don’t want to add legal fees to the growing mountain of medical bills they already have.
An attorney is one of the most important professionals to your claim. He uses everything from the initial accident report to the bills for your ongoing medical treatment to fight for your rights. The insurance company knows that without an attorney, most people don’t know how much their claim is worth. They aren’t familiar with the insurance company delay tactics that the insurance adjuster uses to save money every day.
An attorney can help when the insurance company tries every tactic they know to avoid paying what you’re entitled to. They know the value of your claim and the types of payments the law allows in your case. If you try to handle your own case, you could miss your only chance to get the money you deserve.
If you aren’t sure if you have a case or if you need an attorney, call to schedule an initial consultation. There is no cost for having your case evaluated and learning your options for moving ahead.
The insurance adjuster is another professional involved in your insurance claim. But he is always working on the side of the insurance company and not yours. Don’t let him convince you that you don’t need an attorney. He doesn’t want someone who looks out for your best interests in the picture. A good attorney is the best tool for preventing insurance company delay tactics from getting in the way of you getting paid.
If someone else is at fault for your injuries, contact Ingerman & Horwitz today. You need an advocate on your side to help you get the money you need to pay all your expenses.