From Randolph Rice, a personal injury attorney at The Law Offices of Randolph Rice in Dundalk, Maryland.
Americans pay a pretty penny for car insurance to get just that: assurance they’ll be taken care of monetarily in the event of an accident. Insurance companies, however, have the opposite agenda when an accident does occur. They will do everything in their power to deny a claim, delay payment, or pay as little as they can. They are in the game for profit.
Fortunately, if you know the tactics almost all insurance companies use to “win” at their game, you won’t fall prey to them in the unfortunate event of an accident.
The insurance adjuster provides that friendly voice you need just when you’re feeling your worst.
Insurance companies purposefully hire very personable people in the role of adjuster. They get to the scene of the accident right away or might call you on the same day of the crash. This is a highly effective strategy. You’ve just been in an accident, you’re rattled, and you may have serious injuries. And suddenly there appears a warm caring human being saying how sorry they are, asking questions, and they seem to want to help.
Rest assured, they do not.
The information they gather may be used against you to deny your claim or offer a settlement that is way too low. Keep in mind, they want to make you trust them. They want to talk to you before you’ve had a chance to talk to a lawyer. When talking to an adjuster, remember, their sole purpose is to gather information that may help the company save money.
What to do: Do not apologize for the accident. Do not give a written or recorded statement. Do not give details of the accident to the adjuster or discuss your injuries. Be short and to the point, but polite, as the adjuster has some control over the settlement offer you may get. Get a personal injury attorney and tell the adjuster that your lawyer will be communicating with the insurance company from now on.
They low-ball you a settlement offer.
An insurance company may contact you and offer you a lump sum of money soon after the accident. This may sound very appealing as you may have medical bills and a car that needs repair. You may be in physical pain and understandably stressed. The company knows you are in a vulnerable position and they want to act fast. But in almost all cases the settlement offer is much lower than what you may deserve.
What to do: Taking a settlement offer right after a car crash and before speaking to an attorney is a big mistake. You don’t yet know what your damages are actually worth. Your medical bills may continue to rise and you may have injuries you’re not aware of yet. You may lose income from time off work that you could be compensated for. An attorney can also factor in damages for pain and suffering.
They’ll play the waiting game.
On the flip side of things, car insurance companies are known to deny the liability of claims and also delay processing claims because they know people who’ve been in accidents are desperate. You’ve been in a car crash and you need cash fast. They’ve figured out that if they wait long enough, the injured might eventually settle for any amount of money. Or even worse, some victims are so exhausted that they might give up the fight altogether and never receive a penny.
What to do: Hold your ground. Know that you are entitled to compensation. And keep in mind that insurance companies take claims much more seriously when a lawyer is involved. They know they are dealing with an attorney who knows the law and also knows how to counter their tactics.
In the unfortunate event of a car accident, you must tend to your physical injuries, your car damage and emotional stress. But you also must not give up in pursuing the financial payout that you deserve. Do not be intimidated by the tactics of car insurance companies and know that it’s just part of the game.
Randolph Rice is a personal injury and criminal defense attorney with the Law Offices of Randolph Rice in Maryland. He handles such cases as car accidents, wrongful death, DUI/ DWI, and assault. Randolph Rice can be found on Twitter and Facebook.