After an injury or automobile accident, you’ll likely be dealing with an insurance company. A personal injury lawyer may be able to assist you with handling these communications. Whether you retain legal counsel or not, you should beware of these tricks the insurance companies may use against you.
Recorded statements. The insurance company will call you regarding your accident or injury. Be careful. There is some basic information you will need to provide the insurance company regarding your claim. This includes the following:
– Your legal name – Your address – Your age – The name of your insurance company – Date and time of day the accident or injury occurred
There may be other basic information required to process your claim. Beyond this, you’re not obligated to provide information and should defer questions to your personal injury lawyer.
What you should especially be concerned about is an adjuster who asks you to give a recorded statement. You are not required to give one, and you shouldn’t.
Insurance adjusters are not your friends and are not interested in helping you. They may come across as friendly or empathetic. At the end of the day, their interest is the insurance company’s bottom line. This is why it’s a good idea to hire a personal injury lawyer.
A recorded phone call serves two purposes for the insurer. The company will ask questions to try to trick you or pry information from you. This is underhanded because after an accident or injury you may not be thinking clearly. You will likely be emotionally distraught and stressed. You may even be under the influence of medication. These conditions allow an adjuster to try to exploit you and get you to “admit” things that aren’t even true.
Secondly, the adjuster wants you on record about certain things that can later be used against you. Let’s say the adjuster starts asking about your pain. You mention your head, your neck – but not your arm. Maybe the pain is mild, or maybe the pain starts later. Regardless of why you didn’t mention your arm, the insurer will jump on this omission. A recorded statement can therefore later be used to deny the extent and nature of your injury.
Hiring a private investigator. This is a common practice used by insurance companies to make sure claimed injuries are real. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. The problem is how the insurance company may use the information it gathers.
Sometimes the issue isn’t what’s recorded – it’s what’s not recorded. For example, you may have work restrictions related to your injury. You may follow them perfectly for the vast majority of the time. If you deviate from them, even briefly, expect this deviation to be recorded. Expect that the 99% of the time you behaved in accordance with your injuries will not be presented.
Medical releases. Insurance companies often send medical release forms for injured parties to sign. It is understandable that the insurer wants to know the nature of the injuries you sustained. However, these companies often want you to sign general releases. These are broader than the scope of your injuries and open you up to potential problems.
A general release could expose all of your medical history – not just that pertaining to your accident or injury. This information could be used by the insurance company to argue that your injuries were aggravated by a preexisting condition. This, in turn, will help the company argue for a lower payout. Carefully review any forms the insurance company wants you to sign, and always consult with an attorney before you do.
Communicating with an insurance company can be a mine field. Remember, insurance is a business, so the company’s primary interest is minimizing losses. At Hammers Law Firm, our primary interest is getting you the compensation you need. Let us handle the insurance companies. Reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer today to schedule a consultation.