In the hours and days immediately following an accident, victims are often-times in a compromised or vulnerable state due to the traumatic experience in which they were just involved. Immediately following an accident, victims are potentially suffering from injuries they’ve suffered, the loss of use of their vehicle or the difficulties involved in properly making an insurance claim, among other things. As a result, victims are susceptible to influences which are not experienced under normal circumstances. Many times, victims are suffering from pain without transportation due to damage to their vehicle and confused about how to proceed when getting medical attention in addition to getting their car fixed.
Types of Questions After An Auto Accident
During these trying times, a victim is bombarded by phone calls from insurance adjusters and friends wanting to give them advice. The amount of information typically flooding a victim's mental inbox following an accident can be overwhelming and confusing all at the same time. Usually, this flood of advice, questions, and demands from insurance adjusters can leave a victim with more questions than answers. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is the quickest and best way to eliminate the stress of having to deal with anything other than your health which in the end is the most important thing in the grand scheme of things.
Typical questions during this time of confusion and uncertainty are:
- How will a victim get around without a car to run errands, drive around their children, and go to work among many other daily obligations?
- What doctor/s should a victim go see for their injuries?
- Who is going to pay for all of these losses and expenses a victim has suffered?
Insurance companies take full advantage of a victim’s compromised condition, lack of experience in these situations, and trusting nature of those who are supposed to protect and take care of them during these times of need. Their actions following an accident are taken for one reason and one reason only - to discover any possible way to get out of paying a victim the benefits they are entitled to under the terms and conditions of their insurance policy.
Insurance Company Tricks & Tactics
A victim has a signed contract with their own insurance company, and this contract and policy outline all of the benefits allotted a victim in the event they are involved in an accident. Victims, for the most part, do not know the vast majority of benefits they have under their own insurance policy. Knowing this to be true, insurance adjusters are highly trained to get victims to say things that will limit what benefits they will be awarded and also try to quickly get a claim resolved in an attempt to get around paying or providing many of the services to which a victim has already paid.
The insurance company’s efforts to exploit a victim’s vulnerable state are magnified when the victim is not represented by legal counsel. This is all done in an effort to minimize the insurance company’s liability in the matter and as a direct result minimize the benefits it will pay to their insured. Although the insurance adjuster is doing the job they were paid to do. the result to the consumer is losing out on benefits, sometimes entirely, that a victim has paid premiums for and is entitled to.
The following are some common tricks insurance companies used to fool accident victims into agreeing to take less or no money and/or give up their benefits entirely.
Pretending to be on your side.
Insurance companies, through their adjusters, are skillfully trained to make it sound and appear that they are on your side. They will befriend you in various ways and make you feel comfortable with them knowing that if you are comfortable speaking with them and as a result trusting of what they are telling you that you are much more likely to believe what they are saying whether it is true or not.
Adjusters will tell you that they are fighting to quickly get you paid for your loss because everyone wants their case settled quickly and to receive a check as quickly as possible. What they are not telling you is that what they are doing in actuality is trying to give you as little money as quickly as possible and get you to sign a Release to absolve them from any future liability or obligation to pay additional benefits.
The quicker they get you a check the less likely you are to seek the advice of an auto accident attorney or a friend/family member who has gone through this process before. The insurance companies do not want you talking to anybody who can expose what they are doing otherwise you will become less likely to accept the meager settlement offers they make in the days following an accident.
The longer the process takes, the more time there is for medical expense, property damage expenses and lost wages to go up among many other monetary and personal damages. The quicker they can settle and get you to sign this Release the more money they save.
Insurance companies will do or say just about anything to make you believe they are fighting for you, getting you paid fairly and quickly and taking care of you to the best of their ability. The fact of the matter is that their primary, and often sole purpose, is to minimize your losses, pay you as little as possible and convince you that you are not entitled to benefits that you’ve clearly paid premiums for, sometimes for years.
Case Study: Many years ago, I met a client who had the wiring in her vehicle eaten by some kind of rodent. This electrical damage rendered her vehicle unsafe and thus undrivable. She was walking her children to school and running errands by walking and riding her bicycle because her auto insurance company had convinced her this damage was not covered. I agreed to take her case pro-bono and after reading the policy in total discovered that this was not only covered but she was entitled to a rental car while the damages were being performed. We were able to get her car fixed, get her a rental car during repairs, and because she didn’t have a deductible, she was not out of pocket for any of the expenses. She fought for weeks before contacting our firm, and in just days we were able to get her car fixed at no expense to her.
Insurance companies simply do not want to pay or provide benefits they are contractually obligated to such as in this case, and until they are called to the mat, they will continue to deny your claim.
Social Media Sites, Pages, and Posts
A relatively new tactic during the investigations process of a claim has become to view a victim’s social media pages and posts in an effort to prove or disprove things that will benefit their case against you. You should be asking yourself, why is my insurance company trying to invade my privacy so they can get out of paying me the benefits I deserve as a victim of an accident? The quick answer is because it’s an insurance company’s business model to collect as much as possible in premiums and pay out as little as possible in benefits - which is how they make a profit. So, instead of looking for reasons to pay you benefits, they will try at all costs to find reasons not to pay you or to pay you much less than you deserve.
Case Study: I was once involved in a mediation where the defense attorney produced a video of my client dancing with friends and doing various movements and gestures which she clearly could not do if she was injured as she claimed to be. This video was posted on YouTube and was made public. The issue was the video was actually made before the accident but was posted after the accident date giving a false impression that she was able to do the things in the video after sustaining her injuries. After many weeks it was finally shown that the video was in fact made prior to the accident date but this all would have been unnecessary but for the posting. The lesson to be learned is no matter how private you think your social media account is and no matter how innocent you believe your posts to be, insurance companies are looking for any kink in the armor of your case to prove that you are not injured, lying about your injuries and/or your injuries preceded the accident.
Steer clear of posting about your accident, injuries or anything you don’t wish to fall into the insurance company’s hands.
Requesting You Provide Them with a Recorded Statement
Very quickly after you’ve been involved in an accident you will be exposed to one of the most commonly used tricks by insurance adjusters to obtain information to which they are not entitled.
The Infamous Recorded Statement
Adjusters will try every trick in the book and make every promise necessary to get you to give them a recorded statement as quickly as possible following an accident. They will try to convince you that it will speed up the claims process, that it will benefit you in the long run and that you are required to give a statement.
The only time you are required to give a recorded statement is when your insurance company asks for one and even in that situation, you should not give the statement without your attorney present to limit the scope of the questions and protect your best interests. The reason you are required to give your insurance company a recorded statement is because you have a signed contract with them stating that you will do so following an accident.
At-fault insurance companies have no legal right to obtain a recorded statement though they will, without a doubt, try to get you to give them one. They will twist and use your words against you and giving them a statement is not suggested. The adjusters often times attempt to confuse the victim and jumble the facts of the accident and this statement can be used against them in the future at trial or at any stage to deny a victim’s rights.
Be Vigilant in Your Journey Navigating Insurance Company's Web of Deceit
Always be aware that insurance companies and their agents are not always on your side. Often, their decisions are made with their best interests in mind without regard to how this affects you, the consumer. Check and cross-check the information they provide you and make sure that you are being told things accurately and in your best interests. Attorneys which practice in this area often are retained on a contingent fee basis meaning that their fee is contingent on their recovering monies for you during their representation. Retaining a personal injury attorney to help in these situations is always a good idea because they are aware of the tricks that insurance companies take and know how to beat them at their own game which ultimately benefits you in the long run.