Tactics Used by Insurance Companies During an Injury Case
When we decide to represent clients in a personal injury claim, we frequently find ourselves sitting opposite the insurance company of the party responsible for the injuries.
It doesn’t matter if it is a motorcycle accident, a slip and fall at a place of business, or nursing home abuse, at some point the other party’s insurer will likely become involved and you can be certain the insurer does not want to pay your claim.
You may have medical bills and lost wages as well as pain and suffering. You may need to be reimbursed and soon, but please understand insurance companies look at you as a number.
They are not necessarily your “Good Neighbor” and you are not necessarily in “Good Hands.” These are just advertising slogans.
According to the American Association of Justice (AAJ), the property/casualty insurance industry enjoys annual profits of over $30 billion a year while taking in over $1 trillion annually. Their obligation is to their shareholders. Period. They do that by paying out less money.
Here are some of the things insurers often do when they want to avoid paying a claim.
Insurance Tactics – Auto Claims
When you file a claim after an auto accident, you are actually filing the claim, not against the person, but against their insurance company. The first contact is generally the insurance adjuster.
It becomes the adjusters’ job to delay and deny, to minimize your injury, and to negotiate down the true value of your claim, all in an effort to pay less for your claim. Remember who the adjuster works for.
Adjusters are generally skilled negotiators and know the tactics to give you the impression they are just there to facilitate your claim.
We strongly suggest you hire a personal injury firm to deal with the adjuster during this crucial time. A misstep, a recorded statement that gives the impression that you are admitting some fault, anything signed, could doom your case.
Insurance Tactics – In the Courtroom
In the courtroom, don’t be surprised if the lawyer for the insurance company claims you were responsible for the accident and therefore do not deserve any compensation. That’s because Virginia applies the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine.
In layman’s terms, under contributory negligence, the other party has to be one hundred percent at fault for you to be awarded any compensation. If you contributed, even one percent, you may not have a case.
It should go without saying that the insurance companies favor this law.
Most other states look at this scenario differently and more reasonably. Most have comparative negligence laws which weigh the degree of fault or contribution to the accident.
More Insurance Tactics
We know insurance adjusters are encouraged and even rewarded for keeping claims payments low. This may also be true of your own insurance company.
For years, you paid premiums and on time, but when it comes to a disability claim, for example, you may find delay and deny applies to your own insurers’ attitude toward you.
Please consult with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney, because you have only a two-year statute of limitations (in most cases) to act within.
Other examples of insurance practices include:
- In a trucking or motorcycle accident, an insurer is allowed to go to the scene to solicit clients while a professional law firm is not. We are concerned with the passage of time and with the insurance representative on the scene, evidence vital to your case could be minimized.
- In an auto accident, an insurer could offer you a check on the spot to settle the accident. The problem – the settlement offer is usually for much lower than what your claim is actually worth.
Once you take that check or sign any papers, you are relieving the defendant of any responsibility toward your case. This is ill-advised, because only a doctor can tell you what sort of injuries you may have suffered, and sometimes, these can be long-term injuries.
The law firm of Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz strongly suggests you do not have even a conversation with a representative from the other side’s insurance company and do not make a statement. You certainly do not want to sign anything they present. The best thing to do is to get an experienced personal injury lawyer involved as early as possible after the accident, so you can preserve your legal right to compensation and keep your case on track.