Insurance adjusters are carefully trained to pay out injured people as little money as possible — if any. At the same time, they spend billions of dollars convincing you that they are your “good neighbor” (State Farm), “you are in good hands” (Allstate), or that “Liberty stands with you.” What nonsense.
These companies often use tricky, even sleazy, tactics to minimize claim and lawsuit amounts. That’s why you need a personal injury lawyer to fight for you.
How do you know when an insurance company is trying to cheat you? It’s easy. You’ll know it when you see that they
1. Pretend to be your friend. Don’t believe it. The adjusters are reading scripts and asking questions right off their computer screens. They will call back wanting to know if you are getting better but want to later be able to refer to the day you said you were feeling “better.” What they want to do is to gain your trust so you’ll accept a low settlement offer.
2. Pressure you to give them a recorded statement. Don’t even think about it. You are not legally required to. And anything you say can and will be used against you in settlement negotiations or at your trial, if one becomes necessary if and when they don’t offer you a good amount of money.
As soon as possible after the crash, the adjuster wants to catch you off guard. You will probably be on pain medications, scared, and not had enough time to consult with an attorney. I’ve refused almost every
request for a client statement and been able to make companies accept liability; if they didn’t, I filed suit.
3. Require you to sign an unlimited medical authorization. Don’t do it. Then they can take their sweet time digging up your medical records over your entire life. And when they do, they can argue you hurt your back many years ago and that’s why you are hurt now. This happened the other day when a lawyer tried to argue that my client’s surgery from 20 years ago was the reason she was hurting now.
Proving that the injured person had a preexisting injury is one of the oldest tricks in the defense lawyer play book. Do not allow them access to your medical files.
Your attorney can fight the company attorneys later, review any records a court orders produced and argue they are irrelevant, old, inflammatory, and other reasons to keep them from being used against you.
4. Promise they will pay your medical bills. Don’t believe it. I’ve heard far too many clients tell me that after they submitted their bills, the adjuster denied ever saying that or only offered to pay a part of them.
5. Pressure you to settle now. They promise your check immediately, but first you have to sign a release of claims. Once you cash that check, you can’t collect any more money. If your medical bills become higher than you expected or you have to take more time off work to recover, you are stuck with the original settlement, no matter how inadequate it was.
Last year I was able to make a major insurance carrier substantially increase the amount of money to a woman who had signed a check for $573 and signed a release, but it wasn’t easy. The woman had a limited command of English and had no idea what she was doing when she cashed the check, and the company knew that.
6. Give you a “take it or leave it” offer. You shouldn’t be rushed into settling until you know how badly you are injured, what your lost wages are, and what your damages total. Under Texas law, you have two years from the date of the car accident to settle your case out of court. What’s the hurry?
But often the company will actually send someone to your house unannounced with a check in hand — often a “nuisance offer” like the one above.
7. Delay settling. They will tell you they can’t contact their driver, the police officer, or witnesses. Or that they need more proof of this or that. Or that your claim is being reviewed. They know your bills are piling up and use that to make you accept whatever small amount they offer you.
8. Pass the blame to you. They accuse you of causing the wreck, all or in part. Under Texas law, your recovery is reduced by the amount of your negligence. Or they blame other drivers or causes. They say the crash was the fault of another vehicle. Or the setting sun. Or their driver being tired at 4:00 in the afternoon. These excuses are from cases I’ve handled just in the past month.
And I represented a woman who was rear ended and her attorneys actually filed a claim in court against “the unknown owner of the box that blew across the highway” (which I defeated and later successfully settled the lawsuit).
9. Use computer programs that minimize damage calculations. First they input one-sided data guaranteed to return a low amount. For example, they code a bulging cervical disc as merely a strain or sprain or refuse to input your lost wages. After being given a range of what a jury might award you, the adjuster is trained to low-ball you to get you to accept the lowest number.
10. Talk you out of hiring a car wreck lawyer. The last thing the company wants you to do is hire an attorney. They are all too aware that injury victims who are represented by counsel recover substantially more money, at least three times as much, as those who aren’t.
If you go it alone, they know you won’t know how to get evidence admitted into court, understand the legal process, and take your case to trial. They have a team of attorneys on their side and aren’t the least bit afraid of you beating them in court.
If you see an insurance adjuster using any of these tactics on you, talk to us. We can answer your questions about the process and explain strategies to increase your recovery. Your case evaluation is free and we represent you on a “no recovery, no fee or expenses” basis.
Call us at 817-885-8000 or toll-free at 1-888-801-8585.