After an injury in a car or truck crash, medical and other bills start to add up. If you are facing a long recovery, the pain and financial stress can be overwhelming.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there have been 4989 fatal or serious vehicle crashes so far in 2021. Every day, motorists are seriously injured or killed on a routine drive to work or across town.
After a vehicle crash, making an insurance claim is the first step toward obtaining needed compensation. While regulations exist to help ensure that insurance companies treat people fairly, the claimant too often gives up or accepts far less than their claim is worth.
Our personal injury practice is focused on clients who suffer injury through the negligence of others in Chattanooga and throughout Tennessee and Georgia. Over many years of successful practice, we are familiar with the strategies used by insurance claim adjustors who deny, defend, and delay legitimate vehicle crash claims. These insurance claim adjuster tactics are not secret in the industry—but they may be to you. The more you know, the better your chance of success when working with an insurance adjustor.
Let’s take a look at seven common insurance adjustor tactics that work to undermine—and under pay—your claim:
- Initiating contact quickly after a crash injury: While you may think it is great customer service, an early call for information from an insurance adjustor after a crash is not in your best interest. Speaking with an insurance adjustor on the day of the crash, or soon after, may find you in an emotionally fragile state. You may not know the extent of your injury and the trauma of the event could leave you vulnerable to making admissions or agreements against your interests. If an insurance adjustor calls you shortly after an accident, thank the individual for the attention, take their contact information, and tell them only that you will be in touch.
- Denial of liability after an accident: At the outset, an insurance adjustor will probably be polite, explain that they will take care of things, and encourage you to trust them. Part of that script may be to convince you that you did not really suffer much injury or damage and that your claim is likely to be denied. The goal to is to convince you that trying to obtain compensation is going to be more trouble to you than it is worth.
As well, an insurance adjustor may try to devalue your claim by stating you contributed to the cause of your injury. They may mention that Tennessee follows a “50 percent rule.” This rule means that if you are found to have been 50 percent at fault for a crash that caused your injury, you may be unable to obtain compensation for your injury. This rule, or modified comparative negligence, is a standard by which a judge or jury in Tennessee decides who is owed compensation. It is not the place of an insurance adjustor to decide negligence. If this comes up in conversation, you should quickly and politely end the conversation and speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can answer your questions.
- Request for an open-ended Authorization for your medical records: If you are seriously injured or making a claim for injury after a crash, do not sign and return an Authorization provided to you by an insurance claim adjustor. A signed Authorization for Release of Medical Records allows an insurance company to obtain copies of all your medical records, not just those related to your accident. While there are many advantages to an insurance company examining your health record—there are no benefits for you. Your medical records are Protected Health Information (PHI). Do not sign an Authorization for release of your records without speaking with your attorney.
- A request for a recorded statement: It is not uncommon for an insurance claim adjustor in Tennessee to ask you to make a recorded statement about the crash. You have no obligation to provide a recorded statement and doing so may materially damage the likelihood of receiving fair compensation for your injury. If asked to provide a recorded statement, or a make a statement “on the record,” tell the adjustor you must speak with your attorney first.
- Downplaying the need for an attorney: Throughout conversation with an insurance adjustor, they may downplay your need to speak with a car crash attorney. In Chattanooga and elsewhere, insurance companies will try to convince you that they can work out your claim without an attorney. If an insurance adjustor tells you an attorney is not needed, speak with an established personal injury attorney right away. Most reputable injury attorneys provide a free consultation to answer your questions and discuss your injury. With a serious injury and without an attorney, it is not likely you will receive fair compensation for the harm you have suffered.
- Low-ball settlement offers: For many people who are injured, some money sounds better than no money. If you work with an insurance adjustor without the benefit of legal counsel, you will likely be offered a fairly quick settlement of your claim. While it may be a relief to receive a check right away and be done with it, the first offer from an insurance company for a serious injury is probably a low-ball offer—less than you would receive than if you were working with an experienced personal injury attorney. As tempting as it sounds, do not agree to an offer, or sign an agreement to settle your claim without speaking with an injury attorney about whether you are being cheated out of your claim.
- False deadlines: if you suffer a serious injury, it is essential for you to wait until you have reached a point of maximum medical improvement before you consider an offer from an insurance claim adjustor. The reason for waiting is to understand how well you will heal from your injury. If an adjustor gives you a fast offer with an upcoming deadline, turn it down. If you accept early money or a low-ball offer, you will lose your opportunity to align a money settlement with your actual long-term physical prognosis.
These are just some of the secret tactics used by insurance claim adjustors to close out your claim before you have a chance to speak with an attorney about your case. When you are injured through the negligence of others, speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney about fair compensation before you talk with an insurance claim adjustor. You will be glad you did.
Trusted Chattanooga personal injury attorneys can help you today
If you are injured through the negligence of others, reach out to Dennis & King Law for a free consultation about your injury. With decades of experience serving clients across Tennessee and Georgia, our law firm is known for its aggressive pursuit of fair compensation on behalf of our clients.
If you are injured in a car or truck crash, or other accident, contact us today or call toll free 423-847-2946.