If you have been in a car crash, you need to understand that the auto claims process is designed to cheat you. Insurance companies use tactics designed to keep you from getting your damages paid back for car repair, medical bills, lost wages, pain, and other items. This includes not just the other driver’s insurance company but your own if you have purchased collision, rental car, personal injury protection, medical payments, uninsured motorist, and underinsured motorist benefits. This post will explain what you can do to protect your rights and make more money.
Insurance companies are obviously in business to make as much money as possible. They make less profits if they pay out substantial amounts in claims. So an adjuster looks for ways to save his company money.
Even if he seems friendly, he is trained to use often abusive tactics that guarantee that he (or a jury if you take your case to trial) pays less than what a claimant deserves. Smart people know this and seek immediate help from a personal injury specialist.
Here are five common insurance company tricks you need to know about:
It is important that an injury lawyer be involved as soon as possible after your car wreck so you are not accused of causing or contributing to it. Until an investigation is made, the police report is obtained and corrected if there are mistakes, and the officer and witnesses are interviewed, it is not fair for the other company to decide it knows exactly how the collision happened.
We get the police report immediately at no charge for our clients and use the information to conduct an immediate investigation. This is essential because the police report is often the most important document in the case. If the claim goes to court, the police officer will testify and use his report to refresh his memory of how the accident that he didn’t see happened.
Texas is a modified comparative fault state. You must show that the other driver was 100% at fault. If the other driver’s company can convince you that you are 30% at fault, you will lose 30% of your recovery and if it says you are 51% to blame, you get no money. There is no time to waste after the car accident if you want to make sure you are fully compensated.
Claims adjusters often ask a client for a recorded statement, pretending he wants to know their side of the story. However, this tactic will be used later to discredit the victim’s testimony. For example, if you ask for money to cover an injury to your back, the insurance adjuster will argue that you stated that your back felt “okay” the day after the accident. Therefore, the company will refuse to pay for medical bills to help relieve your back pain that you were already feeling but that flared up the next day after the statement.
We at Berenson Injury Law refuse to let our clients give recorded statements because they are so abused, and on the rare occasion they are absolutely necessary, we meet with our client beforehand to explain the process of questions and answers and refuse to have them transcribed or be able to be used in trial.
Insurance adjusters may also lure a client to sign a release for medical records, enticing them with the promise of a quick settlement. However, the adjuster uses the authorization to obtain all of the client’s medical records, not just from current crash but from his entire life. He will argue that 10 years ago you had back pain, even if it was minor and went away, or anything he can use to hurt your claim including typos or misstatements. We refuse to have our clients sign blanket medical authorizations for this reason.
Disputing a part of the bill or stating treatment is not covered for a specific injury are more ways insurance companies avoid paying claims in full. The adjuster will claim that the amount of money charged by the hospital was too much and try to knock it down to some arbitrary number that leaves you holding the bag for the balance.
He may claim that some computer program knows what the correct charge should have been. That’s nonsense and you will receive far less than what he or she deserves. Our injury law firm files a lawsuit if the other driver’s insurance company tries to do this and ask a jury to award you your full damages.
Often companies will be difficult if not impossible to reach on the phone, promise they are investigating or can’t talk to their driver or witnesses, they are reviewing your file, need more records, or a litany of other reasons why they can’t pay the claim.
They know that you will get frustrated and hopefully drop your case, or do damage to your claim by failing to take the required legal steps. It’s a game for many adjusters — and they play it all day long, knowing this is your first car accident and don’t know what is going on.
And you can bet they will do everything possible to talk you out of hiring a lawyer. The fee you will pay the accident attorney will be paid by them in a much higher settlement or jury verdict.
Naturally, denying a claim* is the easiest and quickest way to avoid paying for a victim’s injuries. Some insurance companies regularly practice saying “no” to claimants to increase their profits. They know that if you do not have a good lawyer, you will not know how to file a lawsuit and take your case to a judge and jury.
*Within the state of Texas, acknowledgment of a first party claim against your own company must be received by a claimant within 15 days and approval or denial received within 15 days after receipt of the requested proof. The insurer can extend denial or approval up to 45 days if it provides a reason.
If you feel that you are receiving the run-around from an insurance company, you need to get help from a personal injury attorney. By reviewing your case with a professional, you can find out more about what it takes to receive a good recovery and get healed from your injuries.
Contact us to learn more about filing a claim or lawsuit if you have been injured in a car or truck accident. Berenson Injury Law will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.