Every year in Kansas, nearly 14,000 people suffer from injuries in auto collisions, while approximately 48,000 people incur property damage. In addition to the physical pain, mental trauma, and financial burdens, auto collision victims also have to face insurance companies, insurance adjusters, and their tactics to undervalue their claim.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. The more they pay you, the less they earn. They will often discourage you from seeking legal aid, in an effort to avoid paying you a fair settlement. Here are 10 common experiences to consider before speaking with an insurance adjuster.
- Your own insurance company.
- – Some folks are aware of how the insurance industry works and expect the insurance company of the “at-fault” motorist to play hardball. What many people don’t expect is their own insurance company giving them the run-around. However, when a claim is made, even your own insurance company may have interests directly adverse to yours. You have been paying them for many years, but when the tables turn and they must now pay you on a claim, their opportunity to increase their profit is at risk.
- Calls at the hospital.
- – Many collision victims, while still in the ER or hospital, have received calls from insurance adjusters who appear friendly and concerned. They ask questions while your adrenaline is high and your emotions are still raw. These statements can easily be twisted and used against you. You should avoid letting the insurance adjusters question you while you are under the influence of sedatives or pain medication, as your decision-making abilities may be impaired.
- Recorded Statements.
- – Everything you say will be recorded. Even your answers to simple questions, such as “How are you doing?”, can be used to manipulate you into making generic statements like, “I am doing well” or “I am fine”. These statements will be interpreted as “I am not hurt”, or “I am not in pain.”
- – Many times, insurance adjusters will demand a recorded statement and pressure you into making that statement before you are comfortable doing so. Words said in a heightened emotional state are easily taken out of context.
- – Unfortunately, it can take weeks or months to determine the full ramifications of many soft tissue injures. If you want to alter a statement you made directly after the collision in your recorded statement, you could damage the credibility of your injury claim.
- Insurance Adjusters are not doctors.
- – Even when you say that you are hurt and in pain, adjusters may try to convince you that you are not nearly as hurt as you feel you are. This is a common tactic, along with attempts to pin your injuries on a pre-existing medical condition.
- – Regardless of what the adjuster says, he/she is not a doctor. You should leave the determination of your injuries to a licensed medical professional who has the education to fully evaluate the extent of your injuries.
- Your previous medical records.
- – Insurance companies must have your permission and a signed authorization before they can access your medical records. Attempts to gather medical records from your past are nearly always attempts to fish for pre-existing medical conditions on which the adjusters can pin your current pain. If they insurance company succeeds at this, it can give them a significant advantage in their efforts to avoid paying your medical costs and to undervalue your pain and suffering settlement.
- The blame game.
- – Because of Kansas’ comparative negligence laws, your settlement will be reduced in proportion to the fault that is pinned on you. Therefore, if the insurance company is able to place any portion of fault on you, they are able to save that money on your claim. Statements and information you give them can be twisted and used against you in an effort to show that you were completely or partially at fault for the collision, and reduce the amount that the insurance company must pay you.
- Arbitrary time limits.
- – An arbitrary deadline is another strategy used by adjusters. They may say that they are offering you a “now or never” deal. They may threaten to close the file or withdraw the offer, in an effort to convince you to accept a low settlement offer before you’ve been able to truly evaluate the extent of your losses.
- Social Media.
- – Insurance adjusters routinely check your social media accounts in an attempt to prove that you are not injured. Expect your activities to be monitored. Some insurance companies have even hired investigators to observe your day-to-day activities and your social media accounts.
- Calculating your pain and suffering.
- – Insurance companies use a program called “Colossus” to estimate your pain and suffering claim. This program is designed to use factors that lower the value of your claim. The data used by this program is fed by the adjusters. The insurance company wants you believe that this program provides the most accurate calculations and that its unbiased views will hold in court. However, your individual pain and suffering and the unique ways that you have been affected after a collision, cannot be digitized by a machine.
- Legal Counsel.
- – Adjusters know that an experienced lawyer will give you the advantage of knowledge and expertise that can balance the scales as you seek fair compensation for your claim. Many of the other tactics used by insurance companies will be ineffective if you have an attorney protecting you.
Get ahead of the insurance company.
At DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers, we face these insurance company tactics every day. The “Colossus” program also provides information on attorney’s settlement history. At DeVaughn James, our experience and reputation show that we will continue to battle against small settlement offers, taking a case all the way to trial if necessary.
Our attorneys have years of experience in handling injury claims and have helped thousands of clients receive fair compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.