Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not giving it away. Their adjusters are trained and rewarded for reducing settlement amounts any way they can. They may appear friendly and concerned while really trying to lead you to say your injury isn’t that serious. With a few precautions, you can dodge some of these dangers.
Tactic: The adjuster calls you a couple hours after the car accident to take a recorded statement of your injuries.
Why it’s effective: With post-accident adrenaline pumping through your body, possibly along with a few pain killers, you can’t precisely judge the extent of your injuries. Often, you’ll be in more pain a day or two after the accident than a few hours after it happens. The adjuster wants to catch you making a recorded statement before you know how much you are injured so they can use that statement against you later.
What you can do: Be polite (nobody dreams of becoming a claims adjuster as a child); thank them for calling and simply say you don’t want to make a statement, and you’ll call them back when you’re ready. If you have already hired a lawyer for your car accident, give the adjuster the attorney’s name and contact information, and request that all calls go through your lawyer’s office. That is the fastest way to nip their tactics in the bud.
Tactic: You’re speaking with the insurance adjuster and he or she advises you that you don’t need to hire an attorney. The adjuster may even offer you a settlement in exchange for you releasing your claim.
Why it’s effective: It’s easy to believe them when they say that hiring a lawyer will cost you any money you receive. Everyone knows that lawyers charge a lot of money, right? The truth is, accident victims who hire a lawyer receive 3 1/2 times more money from settlements than those who don’t. Sure, some of that money goes to the lawyer, but you still end up with more money in your pocket than you would have had otherwise.
What you can do: Don’t agree to any settlement or sign any papers without at least talking to a personal injury lawyer over the phone. Then make an informed decision once you have all the information.
Tactic: The insurance adjuster hires a private detective for surveillance, hoping to catch you on film looking healthy.
Why it works: It’s not that difficult to take a few snapshots that make a truly injured person appear healthy. Your daily routine could be used against you.
What you can do: Take it easy. Seriously. Let someone else lift grocery bags, take the garbage can to the curb, and carry laundry baskets. Opt for smaller, lighter purses, and you might want to postpone visits to the gym. Be on the lookout for suspicious people loitering around your home and work, and follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. Do not, however, exaggerate your injuries.