Car accidents occur every day. They can be devastating for everyone involved regardless of fault. The time following a vehicle accident may be quite confusing. Victims could be dealing with injuries, loss of a loved one, or property damage. Victims often find themselves unfamiliar with the legal process and lack understanding of the injury claims handling process, not to mention being pressured or susceptible to influence by an insurance company. It is important to note that the less money insurance companies pay out in adverse claims, the more profits they can make.
Here are five ways that insurance companies can try to trick you and limit their own liability in your personal injury auto accident claim:
- They Act Like a Friend – Initially the adjusters for the insurance companies seem to be on your side and tell you they are doing everything they can for you to resolve the issues and get you paid. They often work off scripts to gain your trust; however, the insurance company is a for-profit business that wants to payout as little as possible. They may even delay your claim to wear you down.
- They Ask for a Recorded Statement – Insurance companies often ask the accident victim to give a recorded statement, detailing the injuries and damages sustained. This is not required for you to file a claim against the insurance company for the person who caused the accident. Here the insurance companies hope you forget to tell them about prior, similar injuries or treatment or hope you make a mistake (admit partial fault for your accident or downplay your injuries). They try to use the recording against you to discredit you and your credibility, if you go to court at a later time.
- They Insist on the First Offer – Never accept the first offer from an insurance company. The first offer is notoriously a low-ball offer to get you to settle for cheap. They make it out to be the “Best Offer” you will get. The insurance company knows that you need the money and want closure. They hope you are inexperienced and will just accept the offer. It is always best to seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney before agreeing to or signing any offers from an insurance company.
- They Insist Upon a Release of Personal Health Information – Be careful when the insurance company insists that the accident victim sign a waiver or release of their medical information. The insurance company does not need full access to your medical records. Many of these releases are far too broad and allow the insurance company to have access to your entire medical history, and they can use that information against you and your claim. Always consult with an attorney before agreeing to or signing any release of personal health information.
- They Follow You on Social Media – Insurance companies will look at your online accounts and social media posts following an accident. They do this to strengthen their own claim against you. They will look to see what you did before the accident and what you are now doing and saying after the accident. They will look for anything that will discredit you, your injuries, and your claim. Be careful about what you post about your accident or case online, as your actions and comments may be misinterpreted later.
When in doubt, hire an experienced attorney who will look out for your best interests and will protect your rights. Then, the insurance company must speak directly with your attorney. Insurance companies know that the minute you hire a lawyer, it makes their job that much harder to trick you into an unjust settlement.