A car accident can really disrupt your life. Your injuries may require extensive medical care and left you unable to work. The first step in recovering compensation for your injuries is filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Unfortunately, trying to get the money you deserve from an insurer can be incredibly stressful. This is because insurance companies want to protect their profits. Paying you after an accident isn’t in their best interest, financially speaking. In order to minimize your payout, they often resort to underhanded and manipulative negotiating tactics.
Our attorneys have been dealing with insurance companies in the greater Los Angeles area since 2005. We know how insurance companies operate and which settlement tactics they rely on most. You can protect yourself from these tactics if you know what to look for. If you have any questions or need help, do not hesitate to call our Los Angeles personal injury team.
Denying Liability Without Investigating the Claim
Insurance companies in California have an obligation to act in good faith. This basically means that they must accept and review claims that are submitted honestly and with good intentions. However, many insurance companies do not act in good faith. They engage in bad faith behaviors that are deceitful and underhanded. Why? Many companies probably don’t think they’ll get caught. One of the most common practices is to deny a claim without ever conducting an investigation.
The denial may come with an explanation or reason that sounds legitimate. However, if the reason sounds generic or suspicious, it may be. Insurance companies must investigate an accident thoroughly before making a decision. They hope that you will be discouraged by the denial and simply walk away.
Denying Liability Because of a Lack of Evidence
When you submit your demand letter to the insurer you have to provide evidence to support your claim. Evidence can include police and accident reports, medical evaluations, witness statements, photographs, and more. The more evidence you provide, the stronger your case will be. However, insurance companies may try to reject your claim on the grounds that it lacks evidence.
This doesn’t mean that you haven’t provided evidence to support your argument. It may mean that the insurer is arguing that you haven’t provided evidence to conclusively show that their insured driver is at-fault. Don’t let insurers scare you with tactics like these. You have the right to appeal any denial and resort to more formal legal action.
Pressuring You Into Accepting a Low Offer Because You Share Fault
It’s important to stay calm if you share some of the blame for your accident or injury. Fault is not necessarily a bar to recovery in Los Angeles. You can get compensation as long as someone else is also to blame. However, insurance companies know that you may be nervous if you share some of the blame for your accident.
They’ll try to manipulate your fears and scare you into accepting a low offer. They may say that this is the best offer you’ll receive and that you’d be a fool to reject it. Alternatively, they may try to appear to be genuinely interested in helping you by framing the offer as generous.
Don’t fall for these manipulative tactics. It’s important to stand your ground and wait until an independent investigation into the accident has been completed. The results may show that you share no fault at all, or that you only played a very small role. If this is the case, you’ll be kicking yourself for believing the adjuster and taking the low offer.
The best way to protect yourself if you share fault is by hiring an attorney. At Citywide Law Group, our lawyers will identify all of the causes of your accident. This will help us to determine (a) how much of the accident may be your fault and (b) who else is to blame. We’ll then search for any evidence that moves blame away from you and onto others.
Contacting You Shortly After an Accident With an Offer
Insurance companies may also be quick to contact you with an offer after your accident. While this may seem like a great thing, it is important to be suspicious. There are two reasons that an insurance company may contact you immediately after your accident:
- They know you have a solid case and want to entice you with a small sum of money right up front, or
- They just want to make your case go away for as little as possible.
The important takeaway here is that these early settlement offers will most likely be very low. The fact that you’re being offered a sum of money right away may be enticing. However, the amount the company is offering will probably not be enough to cover the full extent of your injuries. It’s important to make sure that the full extent of your damages is identified. This is the only way to truly value your claim.
There will be a string attached with any of these early settlement offers. Insurers will require you to sign a waiver if you accept their offer. This waiver will prohibit you from seeking additional damages related to this accident in the future. As a result, you’ll be stuck with whatever lowball settlement you received.
Intentionally Delaying The Claims Process
When you’re injured in an accident and someone else is to blame, you’ll be interested in getting money right away. Unfortunately, the insurance claim process can be a long one. It can be even longer if insurance companies intentionally delay reviewing and investigating your request.
Why would an insurance company intentionally delay the process? They know that you are probably in a very tough financial situation. They know that you will probably grow more desperate to settle with each passing day. They’ll use delay tactics to use these things against you. If they delay long enough, they’re hoping that you’ll simply agree to accept whatever offer they eventually extend. You can be sure that this initial offer will be extremely low and won’t cover your costs. However, you’ll be so desperate for cash that you’ll resign to accepting it.
Misrepresenting the Law or Insurance Coverage
Insurance companies handle insurance claims every day. They’re intimately familiar with applicable law and procedure. They also know the ins-and-outs of their own internal policies. You, on the other hand, probably don’t have the same level of understanding. You’re probably not an expert, even if you’ve filed many insurance claims before. Insurers know this and will try to use it to their advantage.
Companies may misrepresent the law and try to trick you into thinking that you’re not entitled to certain damages. They may try to convince you that certain damages aren’t covered by the at-fault driver’s policy. Or, they may misrepresent important information regarding maximum policy payouts. All of these tactics are designed to drive down the settlement amount you receive.
Asking You to Provide a Statement
When you file an insurance claim you’ll probably be dealing with an insurance adjuster. This person represents the insurance company and is responsible for reviewing and investigating your claim. A good adjuster will conduct a very detailed and thorough investigation into your accident. They’ll try to get their hands on any documentation and evidence that is relevant. They may also try to speak with witnesses and involved parties.
The adjuster may also ask you to provide a recorded statement. You should be cautious when this happens. Why? You need to keep in mind that the adjuster works for the insurance company. The purpose of the company’s investigation is to find evidence that hurts your claim and drives down the value. The adjuster may ask for a recorded statement as a way to find information that does damage to your case.
If you’re still overwhelmed by the accident you may not remember things clearly. Or, if a lot of time has passed, your recollection of the incident may not be accurate. Discrepancies in your story can come back to haunt you.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t sit down with the insurer and provide a statement. However, the best thing to do is have an attorney present. Your attorney will make sure that questions are transparent and relevant to the issue at hand. They’ll also make sure that you are led to provide certain answers that may be damaging to your claim.
Requesting a Medical Authorization Waiver
Insurance companies may also ask you to sign a medical authorization waiver. This waiver gives them access to your medical records. You may think that the waiver is limited to information about injuries and care related to this specific accident. However, you may be wrong. Insurers typically use blanket waivers. As a result, they can get access to just about all of your medical history. Why would an insurance company be interested in your medical history? They’ll be searching for any health issue that could jeopardize your case. This could include prior injuries, surgeries, chronic diseases, or illnesses. Your medical history can be used to reduce the at-fault driver’s responsibility for your pain.
Call Our Personal Injury Lawyers For Help
Have you been injured in a car accident? Is another driver to blame for the crash? If so, you may be entitled to compensation from that driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, getting an insurance company to pay you the money you deserve can be tough. These companies tend to rely on manipulative settlement tactics that are intended to reduce your payout.
If you need help dealing with an insurance company after an accident do not hesitate to call Citywide Law Group for help. Our attorneys can help to protect you from insurer tactics and fight to get you the money you deserve.