Being involved in a car accident is always a stressful experience. Not only do you have to deal with the aftermath of the accident itself, but you also have to deal with insurance companies. And if you're not careful, the insurance company may try to take advantage of you and unfairly deny your claim.
Sometimes these tactics are used to try and get you to settle for less than what you're owed. Other times, the insurance company may outright deny your claim. Either way, knowing what to look for is important so you don't get taken advantage of. Here's an overview of some of the most common tricks insurance companies use against injury victims.
Being Overly Sympathetic
The agent may sound very sympathetic when you get that initial call from the other driver's auto insurance company. They may say, "We're so sorry to hear about what happened," or "We know this has been a difficult time for you."
While it's nice to be treated with sympathy, this isn't always genuine. In many cases, the insurance company may try to build a rapport with you, hoping you'll think they're acting in your best interest. However, this isn't always the case. The insurance company's main priority is to make money - not to help you.
If an insurance agent seems overly sympathetic after you file a claim, remain cautious. Don't let the agent's sympathetic words lull you into a false sense of security.
Offering a Lowball Settlement
One of the goals of the agent's false sympathy is to get you to accept a lowball settlement. This initial offer is much lower than what you're actually owed. The insurance company may try to convince you that this is the best they can do, that it's more than fair, or that they're doing you a favor.
Don't fall for it. If you accept a lowball settlement, you'll likely owe money out of your pocket. The settlement won't cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
In most cases, an insurance company's initial settlement offer will be much lower than what you're actually entitled to. If you're offered a settlement - even if it appears generous - it's important to have a personal injury attorney review the offer before you accept it. Just as you would consult a tax professional to ensure you're getting your maximum auto deduction, you should consult an attorney to ensure you're getting the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Requesting a Recorded Statement
The auto insurance company may ask you to give a recorded statement as part of their investigation. They may say that this is just a routine procedure and that it's nothing to worry about. This could not be further from the truth, and it's one of the games insurance companies play to get you to incriminate yourself.
In a recorded statement, the insurance company will try to get you to say something they can use against you later. For example, they may try to get you to admit that the accident was your fault or that you weren't injured. However, this tactic can be even sneakier, and they may simply twist your words to make it sound like you said something you didn't.
For all these reasons, it's important to be very careful about giving a recorded statement. If you're unsure whether you should do it, it's always a good idea to speak to an experienced car accident attorney first.
Trying to Get Your Medical Records
After a motor vehicle accident, the other driver's insurance company will likely try to get their hands on your medical records. They may do this by asking you to sign a medical authorization form and framing it as if you have no choice in the matter.
However, you do have a choice. You're not required to give the insurance company access to your medical records. If you do, they may use your history of medical treatments and diagnoses against you. For example, if you've been in accidents or had previous injuries, the insurance company may use this against you and say that your current injuries are actually the result of a previous accident.
If the insurance company asks you to sign anything, review it carefully before signing it. Don't hesitate to ask an attorney if you're unsure what something means or whether it's a good idea to sign it.
Spying on Your Social Media Profiles
In recent years, car insurance companies have been known to spy on injury victims' social media profiles. They may do this by hiring a private investigator to look for anything that could be used against you.
For example, if you post about your injuries on Facebook, the insurance company may twist your words to prove that your injuries aren't as bad as you claim. Or, if you post about going out with friends or doing something active, the insurance company may try to use this as proof that you're not actually injured.
Because of this, it's important to be careful about what you post on social media after an accident. Even if your profiles are private, there's always a risk that something could be shared - intentionally or unintentionally. If you're unsure whether it's a good idea to post something, it's always better to err on the side of caution and not post it.
Delaying Your Claim Indefinitely
In some cases, the insurance company may try to stall your claim indefinitely. They may do this by continually asking for more information or requesting documents they know you can't provide.
For example, they may request surveillance footage from the accident that doesn't exist or ask for a police report when you have already told them that the police didn't respond to the scene. And if you do comply with their request, they'll just come back and ask for something else.
The aim of this tactic is to get you to give up or accept a lower settlement out of frustration. If you find yourself in this situation, you must know that you have options. An experienced car accident attorney can help you navigate the claims process and ensure your rights are protected.
Convincing You That You Don't Need an Attorney
When you try to handle your claim on your own, the insurance company knows they have the upper hand. They may take advantage of this by trying to convince you that you don't need an attorney. This is especially likely to happen if you express a desire to speak with an attorney before you agree to anything.
The insurance company may try to convince you that attorneys are expensive and that they'll just take a cut of your settlement. They may also say that an attorney won't be able to get you a higher settlement than what they're offering.
Don't fall for these tricks! If you were injured in a car accident, you might be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and more, and the auto insurance adjusters will do everything in their power to avoid paying your claim fairly. An experienced car accident attorney can level the playing field and ensure your rights are protected.
If you are involved in a car accident in the Las Vegas area, be sure to discuss the matter with an experienced car accident attorney. Working with an attorney who knows the tricks insurance companies use can help you win the maximum possible compensation.