If you’ve been injured, insurance companies are NOT interested in treating you fairly. Here are some tricks they may try to use to devalue or kill your injury claim.
From the moment you contact the insurance company to report an injury claim they are beginning to build a case against you to minimize your claim. Why? Because insurance companies are in the business to make money. The more money they pay on claims the less money they make. It’s that simple. In fact, insurance companies often pay their adjusters bonuses for denying or devaluing claims.
While some insurance adjusters are nice people, it’s important to be mindful that they work for a company that will penalize them if they pay a claim’s true value and will reward them when they pay less than fair value. And these are the nice adjusters. Unfortunately there are other adjusters who will take advantage of you at every opportunity just so they can look good to their bosses and make more money for themselves.
Here’s 5 tricks the insurance companies may try to use against you and some helpful tips on ways you can protect yourself:
Every word you say they are evaluating whether they can use it against you.
For example, let’s say you’re in a car accident and you contact the at fault driver’s insurance company within an hour after the accident. The insurance adjuster may say, “I’m so sorry to hear you were in an accident. I hope you weren’t injured. Are you doing okay?” To which you may reply, “Yeah, I’m okay, I was just a little shaken up.” Well, guess what? The vast majority of injuries resulting from car accidents are subtle and usually don’t become obvious until sometimes days after the collision – injuries such as herniated discs or ligament injuries. The insurance company will use your statement against you later to minimize your claim by either arguing that you weren’t injured by this accident (after all, you said you were okay) or that your injuries are minor (if you were seriously injured you would have known it right away).
You’re told they cannot evaluate your claim until you give them a Recorded Statement
If this is a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy then this statement is a flat out LIE. There is NO requirement that you give a recorded statement for them to evaluate your claim. If this is against your own insurance policy (maybe for an accident where the at-fault driver was uninsured) then you do have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company. But even if it’s your own insurance company, their goal is still to minimize your personal injury case.
Not only do they want to use your words against you, they want to record them to use against you.
“But if I’m telling the truth, how can the truth hurt me?” you may ask. Well, let’s say you’re driving through an intersection on a green-light, minding your own business, when you get t-boned. You see the car run the light and come into the intersection but it happens too fast for you to avoid it. This type of accident happens every day in the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex. When asked about how it happened you might casually say something like, “he came out of nowhere” to mean that it was completely unexpected. But this type of statement can later be used against you to imply that because you never saw the car that it was YOU who wasn’t paying attention – after all, if you had been paying attention you would have at least seen it coming, even for just a second or two before it happened. “But the other car is the one who ran the red light,” you say. Well, as any Dallas car accident lawyer will tell you, I hope there’s an independent witness who stopped and gave you their information. Otherwise, it’s often a red-light swearing match – with the other driver saying it was YOU who had the red light.
Please NEVER give a recorded statement until you talk to a Dallas injury lawyer.
Swoop and settle
Dallas personal injury attorneys get calls every day from people who have already signed away their claims in the days after the accident before they realized they were injured. As we talked about above, it’s normal for it to take some time before injuries become obvious. During this window, some adjusters will try to “swoop in” and get you to settle your claims for cheap. And, once you sign away your claims, they’re most likely gone forever and you will never recover compensation.
Before you sign anything you should seek the advice of a lawyer, preferably a board certified personal injury attorney.
Adjusters May Tell You that You’ll Get Less Money If You Hire a Lawyer
This is FALSE and the adjuster knows it. The insurance company knows they are likely going to have to pay a lot more money on your claim if you hire an experienced injury attorney.
I’m reminded of a heart-breaking call our law office received from a North Texas father whose 25 year-old son was killed when a drunk was driving the wrong way and hit his son’s car head on. The father made a wrongful death claim against the drunk-driver’s insurance policy and the adjuster told him, “We have a $100,000 policy, but a lawyer will cost you 40%, so why don’t we just pay you $60,000?” The father went to Super Lawyers and found our law firm and told the adjuster he was going to hire us. The adjuster then back-peddled and offered to pay the full policy limits. But the story doesn’t end there. We told the father not to sign anything until we reviewed it for him, free of charge.
Interestingly, the release not only included the name of the drunk driver, but also the drunk driver’s mother. Given our years of experience, we suspected that by adding additional people to the release that the insurance company was trying to pull a fast one over on this poor family. We told the father we would not take a fee on the original $100,000 the adjuster already offered, but if there was additional money to recover we would only take a fee on the extra money. Well, it turned out our suspicions were right and the drunk driver’s mom had a separate $100,000 insurance policy with the same company that also covered this wreck.
They May Seek to Delay Your Claim
Unfortunately, some people get so fed up in dealing with the insurance company that they simply give up and forfeit their claims. The insurance companies know this, so they will often use excuses and delay tactics to drag the process out. For example, they may tell you that they’re still “investigating” the claim or they will tell you that they need you to gather and send them your complete medical records for the past five years.
Don’t let the insurance companies use dirty tricks to take advantage of you. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at The Franklin Law Firm or call us at (214) 948-6464 for a free consultation.
About the Author:
Jason Franklin is a Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Dallas, TX. He is past president of the Dallas Trial Lawyers Association and is frequently invited to speak to lawyer groups about Texas personal injury law.