After a vehicle accident, dealing with the insurance company after a car accident can be very difficult. In addition to having to read and attempt to complete a deluge of paperwork, many insurance adjusters will use outright dishonest tactics to undermine your claim.
If you search online, you will find harrowing accounts of injured claimants attempting to receive much-needed recompense for legitimate claims. In many of these tales, dishonest insurance companies try to take advantage of these injured people by deceiving them. Luckily, one can be made aware of some of insurance companies’ more common tricks in order to avoid them during a personal injury case.
In this guide, we’ll explore some of the more common tricks that insurance companies will use to trick personal injury claimants and avoid paying damages. If you’ve been injured in an accident and want to pursue compensation, we always recommend retaining an experienced injury lawyer in Chicago.
An injury attorney will protect you from the insurance company’s tricks and will have the knowledge and experience to successfully prosecute your claim and beat the insurance companies at their own game. In any event, this article will discuss some of the more common insurance company tricks you should be aware of.
The Insurance Company Will Not Follow Up with You or Return Your Calls
Many individuals anticipate getting a follow-up call from an insurance adjuster when they originally file their claim for compensation after a vehicle accident. Insurance companies find it challenging to provide prompt service because they load their adjusters with hundreds of claims at once. The vast majority of victims have too much faith in the insurance providers to be concerned enough to contact them again.
Many insurance adjusters use this tactic to prolong the processing of your claim. Insurance companies may attempt to exceed the statute of limitations by dragging out and prolonging the claim procedure. If the insurance adjuster has successfully evaded you until the statute of limitations expires, then they have succeeded in nullifying your claim. Be aware that many personal injury lawyers won’t take on cases that are approaching the statute of limitations deadline.
Insurance Companies Will Demand a Recorded Statement
Why are recorded statements popular with insurance companies? You can be certain that the insurance company is not genuinely interested in your account of the events. Instead, insurance companies exploit these statements to get you to make statements that may be used against you later to refute your case. For instance, the adjuster questioning you can say or ask anything that may prompt an off-the-cuff response that potentially undermines your claim:
- You weren’t hurt that bad, were you?
- You weren’t really concentrating on what was happening, right?
- You can’t be certain that you activated your turn signal.
- Did you actually step on the brake or do you just think you did?
These inquiries and remarks are intended to compel your agreement in order to demonstrate that your injuries are not severe or that you contributed to the accident in some way, which would harm your case. Some adjusters even insist that you must make a statement, despite the fact that no law requires you to give a statement. Because of all the potential pitfalls, you should never give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company.
The Insurance Company Will Ask for a Blanket Medical Release
Your injuries are a fair area of inquiry in any auto accident claim. Insurance companies, however, often attempt to get you to sign a broad release of information that enables them to access all medical records, even if they are unrelated to your injury.
If such a release is given, the insurance company will obtain and review your medical records to check for any prior injuries or anything else that may put you in a poor light. It is only appropriate to provide access to medical records related to injuries suffered in the accident by way of your personal injury attorney. There is no justification for insurance companies to request or receive this much access to your private medical records, and it will only do harm your case to provide such access.
The Insurance Company Tells You That You Don’t Really Need a Lawyer
When insurance companies tell you that the claim can be handled without hiring an attorney, be aware that they are acting in their own best interest and not yours. “We will take care of you without a lawyer taking a fee out of your settlement” is something you’re likely to hear. Adjusters will often act like your friend and try to lull you into a false sense of security by telling you they will take care of everything for you.
Having faith in the good intentions of the adjuster, the claimant will try to handle things on his or her own, inevitably and inadvertently causing harm to their claim in the process. When it finally comes time to talk settlement, the claimant discovers that the insurance company is far less generous than the claimant initially assumed they would be. At this point, even hiring an attorney cannot undo the damage you have likely caused to your case.
Studies have consistently shown that injury victims who retain attorneys receive substantially more compensation than those who attempt to resolve their claims without an attorney. Insurance companies are aware of this, and they will use their powers of persuasion to try to get you not to hire a lawyer. It is important that the claim be handled properly from the very beginning; therefore, it is highly advisable to retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible following an accident.
Insurance Companies Will Often Try to Dispute Many of Your Medical Expenses Incurred in Treating Your Injury
Another tactic employed by insurance companies in accident cases is to contest what they view as excessive or unneeded medical care for injuries sustained in the accident. Even if your doctor recommended or carried out the treatment, insurance adjusters will look for any justification to downplay the need for the procedure or claim that the medical provider’s charges are excessive. Claimants who have not retained an attorney will have no ammunition to fight these tactics and will often give in just to get the process over with.
The Insurance Company Will Give You Fake Deadlines
Adjusters will sometimes pressure you to sign a settlement agreement within a certain time period. If this happens, they are hurrying you for a clear reason: they don’t want you to properly consider the settlement to decide whether it is fair. They also do not want you to review your case and the settlement offer with an attorney. Keep in mind that once you agree to a settlement and sign a settlement release, you cannot seek any additional money in the future.
Insurance Companies Will Offer Quick Settlements That Are Not Based On Your Actual Damages
Insurance companies frequently attempt to resolve claims early by offering a nominal settlement that is not based on any medical expenses or actual damages incurred. While it may seem tempting to accept a quick offer (which may be more than you expected), it is almost always a bad idea. Medical expenses frequently end up far exceeding any estimates you might make, and the duration of your injuries and treatment may be far longer than you may have expected.
Furthermore, accepting a quick settlement without retaining an attorney is exactly what the insurance company wants, and for good reason. An attorney will properly work up the case and all of the damages incurred and will encourage you to follow through with any recommended medical treatment. Without a thorough legal and medical workup, you are almost certain to be short-changed.
Insurance Companies May Spy on You to Dig Up Any Potential Information to Discredit You
It’s common for insurance companies to dig into your social media activity to look for anything that puts your claim in a bad light or otherwise damages your claim. In some circumstances, adjusters may even engage a private investigator to try to videotape you engaging in activities that you say your accident-related ailments prevent you from performing. They will seek evidence from or about you that show you are living your life normally and are physically capable of performing tasks that you assert you are not.
This is another reason accident victims should get legal counsel as soon as they can and only release any comments through their attorney without giving up potentially damaging information.
Insurance Companies Will Lowball Your Claim
Accident victims often try to manage too much of the procedure on their own. Falling victim to the above tactics, they reveal too much information, make contradictory claims, and grant unrestricted access to their medical data. By the time they finally get around to settlement negotiations, insurance adjusters often have all the information they need to fight the claim. Then, they make a lowball “take it or leave it” offer, knowing that it may not be worth going to court to fight it.
Many accident victims, having been dragged through the process for so long, just want to go on with their lives and take whatever settlement is offered. Having a competent attorney on your side from day one will help insulate you from the frustrations of the claim process, and an attorney will work hard to guarantee that you receive proper and just compensation. An attorney will build up your case with ammunition to combat any lowball offers from the insurance company.
We’re Not Afraid of Insurance Companies: The Accident Attorneys at Drake & Collopy, P.C. are Here to Help You With Your Personal Injury Case
If you have a personal injury claim or have recently been injured in an accident in Chicago, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Drake & Collopy, P.C. are here to help. We concentrate on situations involving serious injuries, wrongful death, motor vehicle crashes, truck accidents, motorcycle crashes, pedestrian-involved accidents, slip and falls, and other types of personal injury claims.
You might be able to handle your case on your own if there is minor property damage or if you weren’t hurt in the accident. However, if you were hurt, even slightly, do yourself a favor and speak with an experienced accident attorney about your case. Winning a personal injury case can be extremely difficult, and you will want an injury lawyer who knows their way around such cases.
Our attorneys at Drake & Collopy, P.C., are happy to provide a free consultation to see how we can help you with your specific case. Please call us at 312-766-9619 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.