Delaying the settlement to frustrate the claimant is another technique many insurance adjusters use.
Most personal injury claims are brought against insurance companies. Understandably, it is mandated by the state that insurance companies handle the claims in a fair manner. For instance, in Washington state, the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA) requires that insurance companies practice good faith settlement practices.
Unfortunately, some insurance companies employ certain tactics to minimize liability or deny a personal injury claim altogether. This is where the help of a seasoned personal injury attorney can come in handy. A competent personal injury attorney can anticipate insurance companies’ tactics and protect you from common settlement pitfalls.
Below are some of the most prevalent tactics insurance companies use to limit or deny personal injury claims:
Getting in touch with the plaintiff right after the accident
It is very common for the insurance company of the party at fault to reach out to the plaintiff shortly after the incident. While the agent can appear very friendly, they don’t always have your best interests at heart.
Often, these calls are made to catch you off guard while you are still vulnerable and have not met at length with your lawyer. These agents are often looking for information they can use against you. The easiest way to counter this tactic would be to avoid their calls.
Asking the plaintiff for a formal statement
Typically, insurance adjusters will contact the plaintiff to ask for a formal (written or verbal) statement. However, insurance adjusters won’t need a formal statement to handle claims. Their primary purpose is to look for information they can use to devalue or deny any claims.
If you are the plaintiff, it is ideal that you do not speak with the at-fault insurance company without your lawyer’s guidance. You are also not required to provide a written or verbal statement, so it is recommended that you don’t provide any. As a general rule of thumb, speak with your lawyer first before talking to an adjuster.
Asking the plaintiff for medical authorization
An insurance adjuster may contact you and request to see the medical bills to issue a settlement. It is also possible that you will be led to believe that you need to present medical records to have your injuries verified. It is also likely that you will receive a blanket medical authorization.
If you sign the said authorization, you will be giving the insurance company access to your entire medical history. The insurance company will look for previous medical conditions or injuries to help them devalue or deny your claim. You should strongly decline any requests for medical authorizations.
Downplaying the injuries
In some cases, people might downplay their injuries and insist they are fine and won’t need to visit the emergency room. If this happens, the insurance company might devalue the claim by arguing that the injuries weren’t severe enough since the plaintiff did not bother seeking medical care.
If a plaintiff does not seek treatment, adjusters may claim the treatments were not required or the recovery process took way longer than necessary. You can avoid this tactic by seeking the right medical treatment and staying consistent with your treatment and recovery plan.
Delaying the settlement
Insurance adjusters are well aware that the plaintiff wants to get paid as soon as possible. While recovering from their injuries, many have household and medical expenses piling up. Delaying the settlement to frustrate the claimant is another technique many insurance adjusters use.
In some cases, insurance companies may delay the case to run out the statute of limitations on the case. The insurance company wants the plaintiff to either accept a low-ball settlement or accept whatever amount is offered just to be done with it.
Undeniably, many insurance companies use unethical tactics to reduce or deny personal injury claims. Fortunately, a seasoned personal injury attorney can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and help ensure you will get a fair and favorable settlement.