If you have never been involved in an accident before, you may believe that the insurance company is on your side. The advertising slogans for these companies say as much, creating the expectation that accident claims are handled quickly and fairly.
Unfortunately, many accident victims discover that the claims process is neither fast nor fair. Insurance companies are motivated by the bottom line. Accident payouts are losses, so it stands to reason that the company will attempt to minimize how many claims it has to pay.
The insurance company may employ a number of tactics to avoid paying what you rightfully deserve after an accident. Keep reading to understand what you should expect from the insurance carrier and how a car accident attorney can help you with your claim.
1. The Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend
If you attempt to handle the accident claim on your own, you may be pleasantly surprised at first by how representatives for the at-fault driver’s insurance company treat you. The insurance adjuster and other employees may seem friendly, helpful, and concerned for your well-being.
Unfortunately, this sympathetic approach is intended to make claimants feel comfortable. Employees for the insurance company are trained to put people at ease. Such an approach makes it more likely that claimants will let their guard down, which in turn can lead to these individuals acting against their interests.
2. Expect Leading Questions
Insurance companies are liable for damages when insureds cause accidents through negligence. However, if the carrier can pass the blame to another party, the insurer may be able to limit what it has to pay or avoid financial responsibility entirely.
So, if the adjuster asks how you are feeling after the accident, he or she is not asking out of concern. When faced with this question, many people will answer “pretty good” or “OK.” The insurance company can seize upon this innocuous response to argue that your injuries are minor, thus justifying a lower payout or no settlement at all.
3. Beware of Recorded Statements
In addition to asking questions, the insurance adjuster may request that you make a statement about the accident. The adjuster may also ask your permission to record what you say.
This is another common trick insurance companies use to try to get claimants to talk themselves out of fair compensation.
Any statement you make will be evaluated for comments suggesting you were at fault. If the insurance company has a record of you accepting some amount of blame for the accident, this can limit or even bar you from recovering compensation.
4. Do Not Agree to Release Your Medical Records
Another tactic employed by insurance companies in accident claims is asking claimants to sign a medical records release. You may think that granting the insurer access to your medical records will result in faster processing of your claim and a settlement that accurately reflects your losses. In reality, signing a medical records release does far more harm than good.
Once they have access to your medical records, representatives for the insurance company will comb through them looking for prior injuries and previous conditions. For example, say you suffer an injury to your leg in the accident. You sign a medical records release, never imagining the insurance company will look at records from when you were a child and broke your leg playing sports. It may seem unbelievable, but the insurance company can cite the record of this years-old injury to dispute liability for your injury.
The last thing you want after an accident is to give the insurance company license to dig through your medical records in an effort to diminish or deny you compensation. So, if the insurance adjuster asks you to sign a medical records release, it is in your best interest to decline unless you have spoken with an attorney who tells you otherwise.
5. They Don’t Want You to Seek Legal Counsel
Insurance companies know that accident claimants who hire a lawyer tend to get higher settlements. They also recognize the time and expense that goes into defending cases at trial. Given these factors, representatives from the insurance company may attempt to dissuade you from seeking legal assistance.
Employees of the insurance company may inform you that you don’t need an attorney. They may even say that the insurer will “not be able to work with you” (i.e., settle your claim) if you hire legal counsel.
With comments like these, the insurance company is trying to protect its own interests, not yours. In reality, hiring a lawyer may be your best opportunity to recover fair compensation for the accident.
Get Help with Your Car Accident Claim Today
Insurance companies will rarely offer fair compensation for an accident without putting up some kind of a fight. These companies have the money and resources to present a significant challenge to your claim. An experienced car accident lawyer can protect your rights, handle communications with the insurance company on your behalf, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Since 1957, Ventura Law has been helping accident victims navigate their rights. Our attorneys have achieved significant verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients, frequently recovering more than what the insurance companies initially offer.
Please call Ventura Law at (203) 800-8000 today for a free case review. Our car accident lawyers serve clients throughout Connecticut, including Danbury, Bridgeport, Hartford, and Norwalk, as well as New York City.