When you get injured in an accident that was caused by someone else's negligence, it won't take long for the medical bills to start piling up. If you're unable to work because of your injuries, it probably won't take long before the rest of your bills stack up, as well.
That can put you under a lot of financial and emotional pressure. Coupled with trying to recover physically from your injuries, that can make it hard to see all of your options. Insurance companies know all of this, and they often try to take advantage of the situation to undercut and devalue a victim's claims. Here are the things you may see them try:
Offer a Fast Settlement
If the negligent party's insurance company tries to get you to quickly "settle up" your claim, don't be fooled by their friendly attitude. They likely realize that your claim is worth much more than they're offering and want you to sign your rights away before you realize it.
Delay Your Claim Unreasonably
The longer it takes to get your car repaired, your medical needs met, and your bills paid, the more vulnerable your position. The insurance company may hope to delay every step of your claim so much that you hit a peak of frustration and just settle for less than you're really owed.
Twist Your Words
If an insurance adjuster reaches out to you, the first thing you'll notice is that they want to record your conversation. That's a trap. The adjuster is hoping to catch you saying something that can be twisted out of context later to devalue your claim. For example, if the insurance adjuster says, "I hope you're starting to recover," and you respond, "Yes, thank you, I am," you may be simply exchanging pleasantries. The adjuster may, however, say that you obviously were on the mend quickly so your injuries couldn't be that serious after all.
Misrepresenting the Policy
Sometimes an insurance adjuster will blatantly misrepresent the actual coverage the liable party has. You may be led to believe that you can't collect more than a minimal amount of damages because "that's all there is" in the policy. They usually count on the fact that a layperson is unfamiliar with how the insurance industry works.
It's important to remember that insurance companies exist to turn a profit, so they never want to pay out a dollar more than they absolutely must. No matter how friendly the insurance adjuster seems, his or her job is to protect the insurance company's interests -- not yours. To protect your rights after an injury, talk to a personal injury lawyer before you talk to the insurance company.