Being injured in an accident is a traumatic and unsettling event. In the aftermath, it can be difficult to make sense of what is happening and what to expect next. During the insurance claims process, you will usually be dealing with the adjuster for the responsible party’s insurer. And because this is a new experience for most people, insurers typically use various tactics and tricks to try to minimize the amount of compensation they pay you.
Insurance companies may act like they are your “good neighbor” and that you are in “good hands” with them, but the truth is that these companies care very little about making sure you are adequately compensated after an injury. Their top priority is to protect their bottom line, which means paying out as little as possible when someone files a claim. As such, their interests are not aligned with yours.
There are several ways an insurance company may try to undermine your injury claim, here are some of the most common:
Contacting you Quickly after a Claim is Filed
Insurance adjusters commonly contact accident injury victims very soon after a claim is filed, usually within a few days. This is presented as a courtesy call to find out “how you are doing” and to reassure you that you will be “taken care of.” The goal of this call is to build rapport with you and encourage you not to hire a lawyer. If they can get to you before you have spoken with an attorney, then they believe they can convince you that you are better off working directly with them. Always be courteous and polite with the insurance adjuster, but never forget that they are not looking out for your interests.
Making Unnecessary and Potentially Damaging Requests
Once an insurance company believes they have earned your trust, they may start asking you for things that could damage your claim. For example, they might request a recorded statement under the pretense that this is just a “formality” needed to process your claim. However, the questions they ask are usually worded in a way that is designed to get you to admit things that could be used against you later. Another thing they may request is a full medical release, saying they need this to get your medical bills paid. The problem is when you release your full medical history to the insurance company, they will go through that information looking for a reason to claim that your injury (or at least the severity of your injury) was caused by a preexisting condition. Never agree to these types of requests without first speaking to an experienced attorney.
Making Lowball Settlement Offers
When someone is injured in an accident, finances are usually very tight. In addition to the mounting medical costs, the injured party typically has to be out of work for an extended period of time. Insurance companies know this, and they often try to take advantage of the situation by presenting a quick settlement offer in exchange for a release of your claim. In general, these types of offers are for only a fraction of what your claim is really worth. Never accept a settlement offer from an insurance company without talking to your lawyer first.
Unnecessarily Delaying your Claim
If you are not willing to accept the insurance company’s offer, they could decide to slow walk your claim by not communicating with you for several weeks or even months at a time. By doing this, they are hoping to frustrate you into giving up and taking whatever settlement amount they offer you. At the same time, they are running out the clock on the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Once that deadline has come and gone, you may forfeit your right to sue the insurance company if you are not happy with what they are offering you.
In Alabama, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years. And two years can go by fast when you are not hearing from the insurance company on a regular basis. If this is happening to you, get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible.
Contact M. Adam Jones and Associates for Legal Assistance
When someone files an injury claim, there are numerous tactics that an insurance company might use to undermine the claim and minimize the compensation that is paid out. To prevent this from happening, it is best to retain skilled legal counsel as early as possible after your injury, so your legal rights can be protected.
Call M. Adam Jones and Associates at 334-581-9238 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience.