Getting into a car accident is jarring. Whether you’re physically injured or just emotionally shaken, the aftermath can drag on for months, and it sometimes feels like no one will help you. Unfortunately, this is not a mistake. Though they claim to protect their customers, insurance companies ultimately act as businesses looking to make and save money. They do everything in their power to delegitimize claims and leave victims without compensation. Even if a claim is irrefutable, insurance companies have several tactics to avoid paying what they owe. These tactics lead to frustration for most, and for some, the lack of compensation can wreak havoc on their lives and bodies. If you’re dealing with an insurance claim from an auto accident, watch for these ways in which the company may be avoiding paying you what you’re owed.
Many people involved in a car accident expect an insurance adjuster to contact them with the next steps. However, this is not always the case. Insurance adjusters often have high caseloads, and response times are astronomically long. If you are representing your claim in a dispute, you can expect that an adjuster will avoid returning your calls or speaking with you at all costs.
They Ask for a Statement
Many insurance companies will request a statement from you when they aren’t required in most cases. The purpose of these statements for the insurance company is to create loopholes for your case. If you say something that they can twist to fit their argument, they will do so to avoid paying the full amount that you deserve. These statements are often requested very soon after an accident occurs before many injuries have fully developed. Many people find that they haven’t even had time to see their doctor before the insurance company calls for information. This is all intentional. If they can make your claim seem less severe by pointing out that you haven’t rushed to the hospital, they will. If you end up giving a statement, the insurance representative will likely ask long and confusing questions. These questions often lead to answers that will minimize your case and allow them to pay less legally.
They “Claim Responsibility”
One of the trickiest tactics that insurance companies utilize is claiming that they accept responsibility and that you do not need to hire an attorney. If you accept these statements, they will likely draw out the process and behave unreasonably during the entirety. In the end, they will offer a fraction of what you deserve, knowing that they’ve coerced you into representing yourself, and without an attorney, you don’t have the system knowledge and resources to fight for more.
Many insurance companies work large delays into their claims processes. These delays allow them to waste time right after the accident when details can be easily remembered. They know that if they get within a few weeks of the statute of limitations, it will be hard for you to find a lawyer to take your case. In California, the statute for personal injury from car accidents is only six months, so delaying even a few weeks can hinder your chances at a fair settlement.
They Ask for Unnecessary Medical Records
While it’s reasonable for an insurance adjuster to ask for medical records that have to do with the accident and its aftermath, some will try to ask for more extensive medical records. In these cases, they demand to see records from your whole life, presumably to find pre-existing conditions so that they can claim your injuries were not a result of the accident. Without an attorney, they can easily intimidate people into signing over their information. An attorney will argue the reasoning behind this request, and often the request is dropped.
It may seem extreme, but the insurance company will go so far as to spy on you in some cases. This generally happens in cases in which a higher settlement is at stake. The “investigators” for these types of missions often blend into their surroundings, acting as neighbors in a car or another shopper in a store. Their goal is to see if you are doing physically taxing tasks that are incongruous with your injury claims. For example, if you are claiming to have a bad back due to an injury and they see you mowing your lawn, they may use that information to delegitimize your claim and avoid paying.
When dealing with insurance claims, the only way to be sure you’re getting a fair settlement is to hire a qualified attorney. A lawyer will be able to spot these insurance company tactics and fight for what is fairly owed to you. For the best personal injury lawyers in Orange County, contact the law offices of Easton & Easton. With our extensive experience, we’re ready to fight to get you what’s yours.