When someone is injured in a car accident, things can happen quickly. First, the people on scene will exchange information. Second, the police will likely fill out official paperwork to give to the drivers. Of course, in serious collisions, sometimes the paperwork takes more time to complete. Eventually, however, an insurance adjuster will come calling. Over the years, we have seen just about every sort of dishonest tactic imaginable from these adjusters, just to avoid paying you for your injuries. In severe cases, it can even constitute “bad faith,” a situation in which the insurance company has breached its fundamental duty to the insured.
This list is definitely not exhaustive, but these are just some of the more common examples.
Lie to You About Your Car Accident Claim
We start here, because this is the one that happens the most. Unfortunately, some lies are subtler than others. For instance, an insurance adjuster may tell you that there were two witnesses who told their driver you were at fault at the time of the auto accident. Nevertheless, they would still be willing to strike a deal, so long as you do not drag things out. There may actually be no witness except for the other driver’s wife who was in his passenger seat.
Lie Some More
Not only do adjusters lie about facts, circumstances, and paperwork, they may also lie about the law. This does not just apply to the other person’s insurance company. Many clients’ own insurance companies have lied about what coverage is available just to keep injured victims from filing a claim. For instance, an adjuster may say that the other driver only carried $15,000 in coverage, but what they mean is $15,000 in property damage coverage. The goal is for you to think they mean bodily injury limits, thus making you think you have to take $15,000, even though your injuries are far more serious. As morally reprehensible as this may be, it happens every day and seems to be standard industry practice at times.
Ask for Recorded Statements After the Car Accident
This one happens in just about every case. Whether it is your own insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company, do not give any statements unless instructed to do so by a Long Island personal injury lawyer. One of the trickiest tactics is having a playful conversation about unrelated matters one day, then calling back to take the recorded call the next day. Since a rapport is established, the adjuster will ask something friendly like, “Hey, how are you feeling today?” You may instinctively respond, “Great, thanks for asking.” Although the response had nothing to do with the injury, the recording can make it sound that way and be used against you later.
Signing HIPAA Releases
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Under HIPAA, your personal health records are private unless you authorize someone to see them. Under federal and many state laws, an insurance company only obtains these when you release them, and you have a right to limit what you give them. While true that you will likely eventually have to produce any related medical bills and records to the insurance company in order to prove your injuries, you do not need to sign anything they give you. Your attorney can gather evidence on your behalf instead. Many insurance companies put broad language in these forms that allows them to request all of your medical records for your entire lifetime. They do this in hopes of finding a prior injury so they can argue your injuries are pre-existing.
Stall and Delay
By far an insurance company’s favorite technique for avoiding payment is to create delays and stall after a car accident. Some large companies now hire adjusters and have them change phone numbers dozens of times, creating confusion about where to send documents. Insurance companies may switch out the representative several times within just a month or two, then claim the people quit. Even when you settle, the insurance company may stall and pretend your settlement agreement was not received.
Long Island Personal Injury Lawyers
The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP is located in Lake Success right on Long Island. With decades of experience representing personal injury victims, you can rest assured that you do not have to fight the insurance company alone. Never talk to an adjuster until you have spoken to a lawyer. Call or visit us online to schedule your free consultation today. (866) 895-0420.