Tactics used by Insurance Companies during an Injury Case
If you’ve been injured in an accident or suffered any other type of personal injury in which another party was responsible, you deserve to be fully compensated for your losses. Unfortunately, it is very rare that a responsible party will freely admit fault and write you a check to cover the damages. For one thing, you don’t usually know the full extent of your injuries immediately after the incident occurs. And secondly, you are usually not dealing directly with the responsible party to collect compensation. Instead, you are typically dealing with their insurer.
After the incident is reported, the injured party is usually contacted by the insurance adjuster. The adjuster will often call within a few days of reporting the claim to see how you are doing, express sympathy, and wish you well. The primary purpose of this initial call is to build rapport and earn your trust. They may also reassure you that you will be “taken care of” and that “everything is going to be fine.”
By contacting you so soon, their hope is that you will choose to work directly with them on the settlement, and that you will not hire an attorney. They might even tell you something to the effect of “you are perfectly free to hire a lawyer, but it won’t change the amount of compensation you will receive.” This statement is very misleading, because the adjuster has no way of knowing just a few days after a claim is reported all of the facts and circumstances of the case, or the full extent of your injuries.
When an adjuster contacts you, the one thing you need to keep in mind above all else is that they work for the insurance company. As such, their best interests are not aligned with yours. Your goal is to receive full and fair compensation for your injuries, and their goal is to minimize their employer’s losses. So, no matter how friendly an insurance adjuster is, do not let your guard down, do not admit to any fault for the underlying incident, and do not agree to anything you are uncomfortable with.
Aside from building rapport and seeking to earn the trust of the injured party, there are some other tactics insurance companies often use during an injury case. These include:
Asking for an Official Statement
Once you believe the insurance adjuster is on your side, it might seem like a reasonable request when they ask for a recorded statement. They might tell you something like “we need to get this statement to move the claim forward.” Although you may think an official statement is your opportunity to tell your side of the story, insurers will often use these statements against claimants later on. Another reason it is a bad idea to give a recorded statement is that you do not always know how badly you were hurt, how much medical treatment you will need to recover, and other important details. In general, it is best to decline to give a statement unless your attorney advises you otherwise.
Asking for a Medical Release
Another seemingly a reasonable request is for you to sign a medical record release under the pretense that the insurance company wants to obtain your medical bills related to the accident so they can pay them. In actuality, a blanket medical authorization gives the insurer the right to delve into your entire medical history. They will use this to look for any evidence of prior injuries or preexisting conditions that will allow them to claim that your current injuries are not related to the underlying accident. As with the official statement, it is generally best to decline their request for a medical authorization unless you are advised otherwise by your attorney.
Giving you a Lowball Settlement Offer
Insurance companies know that after you have been injured in an accident, finances are usually tight, and injured parties are often in a hurry to get paid. They may try to use this to their advantage by presenting a settlement offer that is for far less than your claim is worth. In exchange, they will typically want you to sign a full release or give verbal release forfeiting your right to pursue additional compensation, even if your injury/condition worsens over time. Do not accept a settlement offer from an insurer without first speaking with a personal injury lawyer.
Devaluing, Denying, and/or Delaying a Claim
In keeping with their goal of mitigating their losses, insurance companies typically look for ways to devalue the claim or deny it all together. For example, under Kentucky’s pure comparative negligence laws, if they can get you to admit partial fault for the accident, they can have the settlement amount reduced in proportion to the percentage you are at fault for the accident. And they may try to deny your claim if they believe they can credibly prove that your injuries are not related to the accident.
Finally, insurers are well aware of the statute of limitations for bringing personal injury lawsuits.
In Kentucky, the statute of limitations is generally one or two years, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. The insurance company might stop communicating for an extended period of time if you have not accepted their offers, hoping to “run out the clock” so you will be past the deadline for bringing the claim to court. If an insurance company has “gone dark” and you have not heard from them for a while, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer right away, so you can assess your current legal options.
Call the Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers at John H. Ruby & Associates
If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions, you need skilled legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. Call the law offices of John H. Ruby & Associates today at 502-895-2626 for a free, no obligation consultation. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Louisville office at your convenience.