After being injured in a car accident, most people rely on an insurance company for compensation to pay for medical bills, car repairs, lost income and other expenses connected to the accident. Unfortunately, many people learn that insurance companies are not really there to help injured policyholders. In too many cases, insurance companies deny claims or offer inadequate settlements to accident victims simply to protect the company’s profit margins.
Insurance companies get away with such behavior because they deal with people who are struggling through a traumatic ordeal and don’t understand how insurance works.
The car accident attorneys at Becker Law Office in Kentucky have seen countless accident victims whose bad situations were made worse by insurance company bad faith tactics. We help car accident victims hold insurance companies accountable. In this article, we want to help you avoid some common missteps that can weaken your car accident insurance claim.
When you file a car insurance claim, you are dealing with a for-profit company. Insurers have databases of accident claims and responses, including denials and payouts. Advances in analytics and algorithms have made it easier for insurers to determine what is required for a profitable response to any claim.
Insurance adjusters are trained to maneuver you into making a statement that undermines your claim or leads you to accept a bad settlement. Thousands and thousands of words have been written to explain auto insurance companies’ bad faith.
Here are seven common insurance claim mistakes you should try to avoid.
Few drivers have ever read an entire auto insurance policy statement. If you tried, you probably would not get far before you had no idea what you were reading. The typical consumer does not understand the legal language in a car insurance policy, but people who are trained in insurance law do. If you ask an insurance adjuster, agent or another representative about your policy, they will provide you with the disclosures mandated by law. But only if you ask. While they may point out where it says you are or are not covered, they can just as easily fail to mention the clause elsewhere that counters what they just told you.
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, you may have high medical bills on top of lost income and vehicle damage. The insurance company knows you are stressed. They know what size car accident insurance claim settlement to offer so it will look good enough to you to accept. In fact, they know it is less than you deserve, but once you sign for the check, they are off the hook and can close your file. You need to keep in mind that after a serious injury, you may require physical, vocational and/or occupational rehab beyond medical treatment. You may have medical issues that require ongoing care. You could have setbacks in your recovery. You cannot know what a full settlement should be until you have fully recovered. If you accept a quick settlement without taking into consideration future medical expenses, you may be stuck with those future medical costs and have to pay them out of pocket.
The insurance adjuster may tell you that he or she needs a statement from you to process your claim. You have ‘no legal duty to give a statement to an ‘at-fault driver’s insurance company.’You need to cooperate with your own insurance carrier, but you should decline to be recorded or sign anything presented by the other insurance company. The adjuster may try to get you to downplay your injuries. One trick is to phone and ask how you are, to which many people will reflexively reply ‘I’m fine.’ They may call after a few days, ask if you are feeling better, and use any positive reply against you. However, insurance companies know that ‘once you hire an attorney, they can no’ longer talk directly to you.
First, we trust that you understand any doctor an insurance company refers you to works with the company regularly and knows what results please the insurance company. You may be legally obligated to get a second medical opinion, called an ‘Independent Medical Examination’ or IME if an insurance company wants one. An experienced attorney can fight to stop any unwarranted requests, help select a doctor or mitigate any damaging medical report.
Sometimes an insurer will claim your injury was there before your car accident and you are not owed an insurance settlement for a ‘pre-existing condition.’ For older drivers who suffer back injuries in accidents, it is not uncommon for an insurer to claim the injury is actually degenerative disk disease. Degenerative disk disease (DDD) is a slow deterioration of the spine that nearly everyone suffers to some degree as they age. DDD causes symptoms that range from pain and discomfort to loss of movement.If you had no back pain prior to the car accident and have back pain and/or loss of mobility afterward, you deserve compensation for the injury or, perhaps, for aggravation of a pre-existing condition. Do not sign a medical release allowing an adversarial insurance company to sift through your medical records looking for pre-existing conditions and reasons to deny your claim.
Some insurance companies will insist a claim is being processed while, in reality, they are stalling in hopes that you will go away. You may be told they need additional information or receipts, or that the claim is under review. They are hoping you give up on the claim or grow so desperate you will accept their lowball settlement offer. Stalling is bad faith, and a lawyer working for you can negotiate aggressively with the insurance company to settle the claim.
An insurance adjuster may tell you that you don’t need a lawyer. The insurance company would certainly prefer that you do not have a lawyer. Having an experienced car accident lawyer represent you in an insurance claim dispute eliminates the insurance company’s advantage. Our accident lawyers at Becker Law Office deal with insurance policies and insurance claims every day. We understand the law and your legal rights.
We will review your accident and injuries at no charge and tell you whether we can or cannot help you. We do not charge a legal fee until we obtain an insurance settlement or a jury award for you, and then we take a percentage of it as our fee. We only pursue injury cases if we believe we can recover enough to make it worthwhile for us both. Talk to one of our lawyers about your car accident, and we’ll tell you exactly where you stand.
The Becker Law Office can assist you with your car accident insurance claim anywhere in Kentucky. Our’skilled car accident injury attorneys can work to obtain maximum compensation for you as you focus on a full recovery from your injuries. Contact Becker Law Office today and tell any insurers who contact you to speak to your attorney.