Tactics Insurance Companies May Use to Deny or Minimize Auto Accident and Other Injury Claims

Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a traumatic and distressful experience. In many cases, the victims may be confused about their condition (i.e., the extent of injury, how long it will/should last, whether surgery may be necessary in the future, etc.) for days, weeks, and even months after the tragedy, and they may not know what they should or should not do. A lot of people rely on an automobile insurance company to take care of their damages and provide reasonably fair compensation. In reality, however, insurance companies have claims adjusters who are trained to take recorded or written statements of witnesses and the injured parties themselves in such a way as to “discover” evidence to use against the innocent driver and reduce the amount of his or her injury claim.

To avoid being a victim of tactics of insurance companies, you should know about certain actions that can be used against you in court and affect your auto accident claim.

Providing Recorded Statements

It is extremely important for you to avoid making any unnecessary statements or comments to either your insurance company or that of the person who ran into you, before speaking with an attorney. If the person who ran into you had little or no insurance, your auto insurance company would be liable for damage to your car (collision coverage minus your deductible), medical bills of the occupants (medical payments coverage), and any injuries to you and your passengers if you had purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. (See Blog entitled “Only a Short-Sighted Fool Does Not Have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage”.) After an auto accident, a claims adjuster calls you and asks you to provide a recorded statement of the whole incident. The adjuster may ask certain trick questions, hoping you will guess at an answer, which can definitely hurt your claim if you’re wrong. These questions may relate to what happened in the collision (e.g., speed of vehicles, distance when you first saw the other vehicle, etc.) or your medical history before as well as after the automobile collision. A wrong or incomplete answer could cost you your entire case or a large share of it.

Always discuss your case with a personal injury attorney before giving any such statements. Ordinarily you should not give the insurance company a statement unless your lawyer is present (and not even then unless it is at a deposition with your lawyer present). You do so at your peril.

Be Careful About What You Post on Social Media!!!

Social media is one of the prime areas of investigation by insurance companies when it comes to legal claims or lawsuits. Since people nowadays share almost every aspect of their lives on their profiles, investigators for insurance companies inspect them thoroughly to look for discrepancies that may indicate you are not in as poor a health as you claim to be. For example, if you suffered from a neck or back injury, and in a social media post you are (1) mowing or raking your yard; (2) engaging in a non-contact sport (e.g., ping pong, croquet, bowling, badminton, etc.); (3) riding a roller coaster; or (4) washing your car, you are making it easy for your opponent to establish that perhaps your injury has not affected you as much as you claim.  Don’t give them “ammunition” to suggest something that is not true!  Your Facebook and other social media can be the Fort Knox for evidence that can be used against you. Why help the company that is trying to pay you as little as they possibly can?

Not Attending Doctor’s Appointments

Sometimes, injured victims recover from their injuries earlier than expected and do not require further medical attention. They think that they no longer need to visit the doctor and tend to miss the scheduled appointments.  If you think you don’t need to see the doctor because you feel just fine, treat the doctor’s office as you would want to be treated and call them ahead of time to tell them why you don’t believe you need to see the doctor at that time, and that you will contact his or her office again if you begin to experience the symptoms again.  It’s the courteous thing to do, and it avoids the unfavorable “no-call no-show” entry on a patient’s chart. Insurance companies for the party at fault regularly check whether the injured victim has visited the doctor. If you miss your appointments for good reason but unrelated to your health (and you have told the doctor’s office at your earliest opportunity), the insurance company will not be able to argue that your missed appointment suggests your condition is simply not that serious because you missed your doctor appointment(s). In any event, these occurrences and how you handle them can affect the outcome of your accident case against the party responsible for your injuries.

Discarding of Evidence

It is common for people to throw away several pill bottles and get rid of any cast(s) when they do not need them any more. These can sometimes be helpful as pieces of graphic evidence to show not only that you were injured but also to support your claim of discomfort and pain during your convalescence. If you are unable to produce convincing evidence in court, the defendant’s insurance company may try to make it seem as if you are at least exaggerating your condition, which can substantially reduce the evaluation of your claim by the jury.

If you have been in an auto accident or suffered other injuries caused by the negligence/carelessness of a third party, you should work with an experienced attorney who can guide you and keep you from falling prey to the insurance company’s traps.

Contact Tom Riley Law Firm today to schedule an appointment with an experienced auto accident attorney and discuss your legal options.