If you’ve suffered injuries in an auto accident, you can bet that you’ll get a call from an insurance adjuster sooner rather than later. The adjuster might act like your friend, but they’re doing a job. That job is to make your claim disappear and pay you as little as possible.
The insurance adjuster and their employer have a major advantage going into this situation. They understand how injury claims work and exactly what they need to do to help their case — and hurt yours. Meanwhile, most victims believe the insurance company is just trying to get to the bottom of things and pay claims fairly, so they go along with what the insurance adjuster tells them.
Unfortunately, this often results in hurting your personal injury case and letting the insurance company get away with paying you far too little. To even the playing field and deal with the insurance company after a crash, you’ll need to know about and anticipate the tricks and tactics that insurance companies like to use. To help, we’ve compiled a list of seven of the most common.
The first thing that the insurance company will usually ask you to do after an auto accident is give them a recorded statement. When their insurance adjuster approaches you, he or she will probably seem very polite, helpful, and friendly. However, when they ask whether you’ll give them a statement, keep all these things in mind:
The way to fight back against this tactic is simple: don’t talk to an insurance adjuster until you’ve called a lawyer first. After they’ve met you and learned about the details of your case, your lawyer can advise you about how to handle calls from the insurance company, or your lawyer may be able to handle them for you.
As we already mentioned, the insurance company and its employees will try to act like they’re simply out to help you and give you guidance during a challenging time. In return, they’ll say that all they want from you is the truth.
This is rarely the case, and a good lawyer will tell you as much, which is why the insurance company may encourage you to not call one. They might say that a lawyer will cost you lots of money and make everything more complicated.
In fact, a good lawyer will make things complicated — for the insurance company. The company has a tried-and-true plan in place that they use all the time to deny victims fair compensation. As soon as you pick up the phone and call a lawyer, their plan goes out the window, which is exactly why they don’t want you to do it (and exactly why you should).
If you’ve suffered a serious injury, medical bills are probably piling up quickly. You may not be able to work, and with no money coming in and a long recovery ahead, financial stress can build fast.
The insurance company knows all of this, and they know that it’s the perfect time to try and get you to settle your claim for the bare minimum. Not only are you in pain, stressed out, and still reeling from the accident, but you’ve barely started your recovery yet, which means the full extent of your injuries is still unknown. You may experience expensive complications later, and you might require additional surgeries and other medical treatment.
All of this could be expensive for the insurance company, which is why they want you to sign a release and take a settlement offer right away. If they succeed and get you to do this, you’ll never be able to pursue additional compensation for your injuries again, even if your condition gets worse later or your recovery takes longer than expected and you end up facing significant medical debt.
This is why you should never accept a settlement offer without talking to a lawyer first. An experienced attorney should have handled cases like yours before, and they should be able to evaluate any settlement offer to tell you whether it will really address all the long-term costs and complications you might face after a crash.
If getting you to trust them doesn’t work, the insurance company will most likely start becoming hostile toward you. They may try to say that the crash was your fault, or, if the other driver caused the crash beyond all doubt, they may claim that you were also partially to blame in some way.
You should keep two things in mind if the insurance company starts trying to shift the blame onto you. First, you should never trust the insurance company’s assessment of fault since they’re out to serve their own best interests, not yours. Second, even if you did bear some degree of blame for the accident, it doesn’t mean you aren’t eligible for compensation.
In South Carolina, the amount of money a jury can award from a personal injury claim is proportional to how much the defendant was at fault, as long as the defendant was mostly at fault (over 50 percent). So, if the court determines that the person who injured you was 80 percent responsible for the crash, you could still receive 80 percent of the total damages that resulted from the accident (including your medical bills, lost wages, and more).
When the insurance company realizes they can’t push the blame for the accident onto you, their next move will probably be to try and say your injuries aren’t actually as serious as you and your doctor say. To help them do this, they’ll probably hire their own doctor or other medical professional and ask you to submit to something called an “independent medical examination,” or IME.
The doctor who performs the IME is supposed to be independent and impartial (hence the name), but in practice, doctors who perform IMEs for insurance companies know that they need to come up with findings that are favorable to the insurance company. If they don’t, the insurance company simply won’t hire them again and will find another doctor who will give them the findings they want.
Submitting to an IME can be stressful, and the law requires you to do it if you want to move forward with your claim. However, an experienced attorney should have successfully guided plenty of clients through IMEs before. They should be able to prepare you for your IME and help you through every step of the process so you feel confident.
If the insurance company can’t dismiss your injuries, they may grab onto anything they can find from your medical records and try to claim instead that your injuries existed before the crash. If you had an old sports injury, for example, the insurance company might try to argue that your new injuries are just a reappearance of that old injury (no matter how unrelated the injuries and how ridiculous the argument might seem).
Fortunately, even if you did have a pre-existing condition, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a case. If your accident aggravated an injury or other condition that you already had, South Carolina law says that you can still recover damages that reflect how much the accident made your condition worse.
Insurance companies have a responsibility to process claims in a timely fashion, but some unethical companies still use stalling tactics to try and make victims give up on their claims.
The insurance adjuster in your case might use various excuses to explain why there’s no progress on your claim. They might say things like:
They might even avoid your calls or assign you to a different adjuster who says they have to start the process all over.
Often, the insurance company will combine never-ending delays with trick number three on this list (offering you fast cash). As your claim drags on and you don’t see much progress, they’re hoping you’ll get frustrated, feel hopeless, and just take their offer out of desperation. If you do, however, you’ll most likely regret it later.
A lawyer who has successfully handled many car accident cases should be familiar with all these insurance company tricks and more. And they should know exactly how to respond to them.
Rather than let the insurance company’s games get the best of you, contact an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the process and deal with the insurance company while you focus on your recovery.
If the insurance company isn’t treating your claim fairly, don’t let their unfair tactics get you down. Instead, call Attorney David L. Hood for help. David L. Hood has successfully represented many car accident victims, and he knows exactly how to deal with the insurance company after a crash so they understand that your claim needs to be taken seriously.
To get a no-risk assessment of your case right away, contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or fill out our online contact form and we’ll get in touch to schedule your free initial consultation. We handle all car accident cases on a contingent fee basis, which means you’ll only pay attorney’s fees if we get you a settlement or win your case in court.*
*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.