You take your safety seriously when you are on the road. You follow the rules and you remain alert to the movement and direction of other drivers. However, other drivers may not be so careful and despite your best efforts to prevent an accident, you may end up in a car crash. When this happens, you will need the financial help and support of your insurance company.
Insurance companies exist to offset the financial burden caused by a car accident. If you have been injured in an auto crash, your insurance company is obligated to look after your interests. Your insurance policy is a contractual agreement between you and the insurance company. You make payments and in return, they promise to give you the money you need to recover after an accident.
Insurance companies are legally liable to compensate you for all short-term and long-term losses that you incur. Unfortunately, this is not how most of them behave. Like other businesses, insurance companies are out to make a profit. To do so, they must find ways to minimize the amount of money they pay out to each claimant. This is a legitimate business model, but it often leads insurance companies to take extreme—and sometimes unethical—steps to deny money to people who deserve it.
After you submit your Florida personal injury claim, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. This is the primary representative of the insurance company. The adjuster may sound friendly and supportive over the phone, but you should not be fooled by this. Make no mistake: the main aim of the insurance adjuster is to find weaknesses in your case, to look for things that will justify a lower pay-out. Insurance companies train their employees to deploy subtle and sometimes dishonest tactics to meet this goal. If you were in an especially bad accident and you have submitted a high-dollar claim, you should assume that the insurance adjuster assigned to your case will not be the only one dealing with it. Insurance companies can deploy a range of resources to discredit the justifications for your Florida personal injury claim.
That is why you must hire a Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. As you recover from the accident, you may not be up to dealing with insurance adjusters and lawyers. But you will soon need to bring in legal counsel. Your medical expenses and lost wages may put you in financial difficulty, and the insurance money may be the only thing that can get you out of it.
A lawyer will help you counter the range of moves that the insurance company will make to reduce the value of your Florida injury claim. Here are some of the most common ploys used by such companies:
1. Using your medical history against you
Your insurance company may try to use a pre-existing condition to devalue your claim. If they can establish that you have received treatment for some injury and illness in the past, they may try to say that this condition exacerbated the effect of the injuries you sustained in the accident and that they do not need to pay as much money.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to restrict access to your medical records. Insurance companies do not have carte blanche to go through your entire medical history. The insurance adjuster you work with may say that access to all your medical records is a routine aspect of the claims process. It is not. Your insurance company only needs to see medical records related to the injuries you suffered to verify their credibility. Do not allow them to dig into your past medical history.
2. Rushing to establish your injuries
Some of the severest injuries do not present right away. For example, if you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, it may take some time for any sign of it to show. Difficulty concentrating and thinking may begin to show in the weeks following the accident. And this may indicate serious impairment in the months to come.
Insurance companies know this. They understand that certain injuries take time to fully manifest, which is why they often rush to establish your injuries and begin processing the claim. The at-fault insurance company may even be so callous as to call you the day of your injury, when you are weak, groggy, and confused, in order to get you to officially state all of your injuries. Insurance adjusters know that you will not be in the physical or mental state to make the best choices, and they will use this fact to bully you into accepting a low settlement amount for your Florida injury claim.
If you have been a victim of such a scheme, your attorney may be able to help release you from any commitments you made while in an acutely poor mental condition. Such dubious schemes are unlikely to prevail in court.
3. Delaying the processing of your claim
If you have been badly hurt, you may be in desperate need of cash. The insurance company knows this, and they will use it to their advantage. After rushing to get the details of your injuries, they may slow down the processing of your claim. This is done to wear you down. They figure that you will become so desperate for money that you will accept their low-dollar offer.
4. Asking for a recorded statement
Never go on the record about your injuries with an insurance company. There is no need for you to make any statement about your injuries to them. You are not a doctor. What you have to say about the harm done to you is immaterial to your insurance claim.
A dishonest insurance company may send an insurance adjuster to your bedside or call you over the phone to ask you to answer questions about your injuries. Your answers will be recorded, and then used later to devalue your claim.
Even an interaction that seems benign—such as answering “fine” when a representative asks you how you are doing—can be used against you. Always refuse to give a recorded statement to an insurance company.
5. Questioning medical claims
The insurance company may go right at the severity of your injury. They may claim that you are not as bad off and debilitated as you claim. Insurance companies typically hire their own physicians and medical experts to review your records to support their side of the story. However, these people have no right to examine you without your consent. The medical team that is treating you is the only one with first-hand knowledge of your injuries, pain, and suffering. Their report will be the most credible.
Your insurance company may also try to convince you that you should end your treatment early. They may claim that you will not be covered for additional procedures. But you should always keep in mind that an insurance adjuster is not a medical expert. They are not qualified to tell you what kind of treatment you need. You should also keep in mind that your injuries are probably more expansive than the insurance company is willing to concede.
The bottom line is that medical costs should never get in the way of your treatment. If your policy does not cover the kind of procedures you require, your Florida personal injury lawyer may be able to find alternative ways to make sure you receive the proper medical treatment.
6. Denying liability
One of the most common ways insurance companies minimizes the value of claims is to blame you—the victim—for the accident. They will refuse liability on the grounds that you contributed to the accident in some way. If the other party is clearly at fault for the accident, they may claim, without evidence or logic, that you could not have been so severely injured.
Again, it is not up to an insurance company to determine the extent and severity of your injuries.
7. Advising you not to seek legal counsel
An insurance company that acts dishonestly toward its clients understands the threat posed by a personal injury lawyer. One of the first things the insurance adjuster may do is to discourage you from seeking legal advice. They will tell you that a lawyer is expensive. This is not true, as most personal injury lawyers work on a no win, no fee basis.
The insurance representative may also claim that a lawyer will take a large portion of your settlement, this is also untrue. Research has shown that accident victims who seek legal representation tend to receive settlements that are several times larger than they would obtain without legal counsel.
The thing to keep in mind is that the sole aim of a personal injury lawyer is to get their clients the highest settlement possible. To do so, attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident. They will also review medical records and speak to members of your medical team as well as your family. This investigation is done to determine the value of your case. Once an amount has been established, it will be used to guide negotiations with the insurance company.
Insurance companies fear personal injury lawyers because they are experts at building technically and legally sound cases against them. Always seek counsel if you have any doubts about the honesty and reliability of your insurance company.
8. Conduct surveillance of you
The insurance company has a great deal to lose in high-dollar injury cases. If you have been seriously injured and require a large pay-out, the insurance company will want to undermine your claim. They may go to the extent of putting you under surveillance. In fact, you should assume that you are being watched.
To avoid paying out a multi-million-dollar settlement, the at-fault insurance company may have you monitored by a private investigator. This kind of thing does not only happen in the movies; it happens in real life. The investigator may track and photograph your every move. That is why you must take the orders of your doctor seriously and resist partaking in activities that they have warned against. If the insurance company catches you engaging in vigorous physical activity, they will have all that they need to question the credibility of your claim.
Your activity on social media will also be monitored. In fact, this is the first place the company will investigate. If you have been seriously injured and you post photos of yourself partying on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, your claim will be called into question. You should also avoid discussing the case on social media. The insurance company can use anything you say about them against you.
9. Offering a quick settlement
The insurance company may offer to settle your case quickly in return for a verbal or written release of your claim. This can seem like a good deal at the time it is offered, especially if you are already stretched financially. However, you should not do it. Signing such a form or giving your verbal consent will cut off all paths for the further pursuit of money for your injuries.
You should sign no document proffered by the insurance company before you have spoken with your lawyer. Nor should you make any statement to them without the advice of counsel. In fact, there is no reason for you to directly interact with the insurance company. You should leave all such communicating and negotiating to your attorney.
10. Misrepresenting the law
If you have never been in an accident before, you will be unfamiliar with how personal injury law works and what you are entitled to. Some insurance companies count on this to minimize the amount of money they are forced to pay-out. Your insurance company may tell you that you are not entitled to seek damages for pain and suffering. They may also say that you can only recover a certain amount of money—the certain amount being what they offer.
The boldest insurance companies will even send to you their legal representatives along with the insurance adjuster. In a show of force and intimidation, they will claim that the law offers little relief from your present condition and that you are better off taking what is offered to you.
Never accept legal advice from an insurance company. Always hire your own lawyer and follow only your lawyer’s advice.
11. Misrepresenting your policy and coverage
The insurance company may also try to misrepresent the amount of money you can claim under your coverage. The language used in insurance policies is highly technical. When you purchased it, the representative who sold it to you will have only given you the highlights. After an accident, you must delve into the details.
A personal injury attorney is the only person who can help you do so. Your personal injury lawyer will be familiar enough with such documents to tell you exactly what you are entitled to. They will also communicate with the insurance company so that you are not forced to engage in highly technical conversations.
The Only Person You Can Trust
The insurance company is not on your side. The only person you should trust is the lawyer you hire. They will stop the insurance company from cheating you out of what is legally yours. They will build a case bit-by-bit for your compensation.