Most drivers pay expensive premiums to their car insurance company each month for financial protection and peace of mind. Unfortunately, when a crash happens and it’s time for the insurance company to step up, drivers don’t always get the treatment they deserve. As if being involved in a car accident isn’t stressful enough, insurance companies and their adjusters often use a variety of tactics to confuse and ultimately exploit car wreck victims.
Keep reading to learn how insurance companies and their employees try and manipulate the situation when a victim reports an accident or attempts to negotiate a fair settlement. And if you or someone you care about has recently been involved in a car wreck, please contact Atkins & Markoff to receive a free, no-obligation consultation.
1. Pressuring You for a Recorded Statement
If you’ve been injured in a wreck, you can expect that the other driver’s insurance company will ask you for a written or recorded statement within days or even hours of the crash. However, no matter what they say, you should never give a statement to an auto insurance adjuster before speaking with an attorney.
Insurance adjusters may tell you that their goal is just to gather the facts, but that’s not true. Adjusters are trained to ask leading questions, and their goal is to elicit damaging statements which could compromise your claim.
Here are a few common examples of questions that might seem benign but are really designed to harm your credibility and your claim:
- What is your cell phone number?
- Were you on your phone during the crash?
- Did you hit your brakes?
- Were you wearing your seatbelt?
- Where were you looking when the crash occurred?
- What was your health like before the crash?
- What physical symptoms have you suffered since the wreck?
- Have you ever experienced similar physical issues before?
Again, these questions may seem harmless, but your answers could provide the insurance company with leverage that they won’t hesitate to use against you. The insurance company is relying on the fact that since you’re not an attorney and don’t have experience handling personal injury claims, you don’t know what sort of information could damage your claim. They also don’t care that you may be stressed, confused, and still recovering, and they won’t hesitate to lead you into making the types of statements they want to hear — whether those statements are accurate or not.
2. Requesting Your Medical Records
Insurance companies don’t want to review your medical records because they are sincerely interested in your health and wellness or because they want to make sure they compensate you fairly after a crash. They want your records so they can look for pre-existing medical conditions that they might use to explain away the injuries you’ve sustained from the accident. If they can cast doubt as to the origin of those injuries, there’s a good chance they won’t have to cover the costs to treat them.
The fact is that insurance companies are required to pay covered claims, and they rarely have the right to receive every piece of information they request. At some point in the claims process, the insurance company will be entitled to some of your medical records — but not your entire medical history. And there’s no reason to give them anything before you speak with a qualified and experienced car accident attorney.
3. Arguing That Medical Treatment Is Unnecessary
You’re probably beginning to sense a recurring theme: Insurance companies do not want to pay for medical treatment, and they can be very creative in their attempts to avoid their financial responsibilities. One tactic they may use is to tell you that they won’t pay for some or all of your medical treatment.
Generally, the insurance company won’t flat-out refuse to pay; instead, they’ll claim that the treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider (whether surgery, therapy, or other procedures) is unnecessary. They may argue that your treatment wasn’t appropriate for your condition, that a less expensive treatment could have worked just as well, or that you received a degree of treatment that doesn’t correspond with the severity of your injuries.
Don’t let these tactics frighten you. If your healthcare provider prescribes treatment and tells you that it’s necessary, then it’s necessary. And if an insurance adjuster suggests otherwise, you need to begin looking for an experienced personal injury lawyer right away.
4. Admitting Fault but Refusing to Offer Fair Compensation
It’s a little-known fact that insurance adjusters often work on a commission-based salary structure, which means they earn more money for limiting payments on claims, and it makes no difference whether those claims are legitimate. If your insurance adjuster becomes aggressive when you mention hiring an attorney, it’s because they’re concerned they’ll have to pay more and therefore receive less commission.
One trick the insurance company may use to persuade you not to talk to a lawyer is to accept responsibility for your claim or admit their driver was at fault. While this may seem like an important gesture, accepting responsibility doesn’t mean they’re going to offer you a fair settlement. However, they may use an admission of responsibility to try and trick you into providing all your medical records or answering the insurance adjuster’s misleading questions as we described earlier.
These are just a few of the most common tactics the insurance company may use to try and avoid paying you the fair value of your claim; the list of potential strategies they might try is endless. If you want to get fair value for your claim, don’t look to the insurance company — get help from an experienced attorney who knows how to maximize the value of car accident claims and get victims the compensation they deserve.
Atkins & Markoff: Fighting to Protect the Rights of Car Accident Victims in Oklahoma
If you’ve suffered injuries in a car crash in Oklahoma and are now being treated unfairly by an insurance company and their employees, the team at Atkins & Markoff is here to help. We have decades of experience successfully representing car crash victims, and if we’re able to take your case, we’ll fight aggressively and efficiently to get you the compensation you deserve.
Our “no recovery, no fee” policy means you’ll never have to pay for our services unless we help you achieve a financial recovery. We have earned an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and we provide free initial consultations with our attorneys so they can assess your case at no financial risk to you.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.