Here are some of the common tactics used by insurance companies that you need to be very aware of:
- The insurance adjuster may immediately be calling you to take a recorded statement regarding your injuries. Be careful, the objective of the adjuster is to get you make statements that may hurt your case later on. For example, you may have broken your wrist and hurt your neck in an accident, but the day after the crash, when the insurance adjuster calls you, the only thing that is bothering you is your broken wrist. Later, after you have stopped taking the pain medications that they gave you at the hospital for your wrist, you realize that your wrist will heal, but your neck may not. It is also common for the adjuster to take statements from people who have been prescribed heavy pain medications and who are not thinking clearly. Later on the insurance company will use this recorded statement or notes taken by the adjuster to cast doubt on your neck injury claim (or whatever other legitimate injury was caused by the accident).
What to do – Simply thank the adjuster for calling, tell him or her that you don’t want to make any statement and that you don’t want him or her to call back. Ask for his or her name, phone number, case claim number, and tell the adjuster you will call back when you are ready. You do not have to be rude, but you do need to be firm. If you have already hired a Florida personal injury lawyer give the adjuster the name and phone number of your lawyer and request that all calls go through your lawyer’s office. If you have not yet hired an attorney, and plan to discuss your case with an attorney, then save this information and give it to him or her at your first meeting.
- The insurance adjuster may tell you not to hire an attorney. In fact, the very nice insurance adjuster may offer you a small settlement in exchange for releasing your claim forever. They often suggest that, if you hire an attorney, any money you receive will just go to the lawyer. Adjusters have even been known to threaten, to “deny”, or to “low ball” your claim if you hire a lawyer.
What to do – In a minor case you may decide to settle the case without a lawyer, but this should not be done without first reading my book, The Seven Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck your Florida Accident Case and consulting with an attorney. Before deciding to settle the case on your own, you should ask yourself this question: Why is the insurance adjuster telling me not to consult with an attorney? Remember, adjusters get paid for making low settlements and they know that on average the injured party receives 3½ times as much when represented by an attorney.
- The insurance adjuster may ask you to sign medical authorization forms to obtain all of your medical records. These forms are usually drafted to allow the insurance company to obtain all of your medical information and will not be limited to your medical records regarding this accident. It allows the insurance company to go on a fishing expedition for any other past medical problems that might be completely irrelevant to the pain you are experiencing. In fact, this medical authorization form will allow them to go back and obtain private medical information even if it is 20 years old. If you have ever seen a psychologist, counselor, or psychiatrist in the past, this release form authorizes them to get all of these personal records as well.
What to do – Do not sign any medical authorization forms until you have consulted with an attorney. Do not become a victim again by having your privacy invaded. While some of your past medical records may be relevant to your personal injury case, many are not and the insurance company may not be entitled to them under the law. An experienced Florida car accident attorney knows what medical records to provide to the insurance company and when to present them.
- The insurance adjuster may misrepresent insurance policy benefits. Sometimes the adjuster will not give you accurate information about the amount of insurance coverage that is available to you. This misinformation could come from both the adjuster of the at- fault person as well as your own insurance company. For example, your own insurance adjuster may not tell you about all of the Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage you are entitled to or that they failed to obtain the proper UM rejection forms when you bought your insurance. Additionally, in Florida, both the owner and the driver of the vehicle are responsible for damages caused in an accident. And sometimes a business may be responsible if the driver of the vehicle was on a business mission, even if they were not driving a company vehicle. The insurance adjuster may use this misinformation to entice you to accept a lower settlement than would otherwise be warranted.
What to do – If you have serious injuries, make sure you consult an experienced Florida personal injury attorney that can investigate all the insurance benefits available before agreeing to any settlement and signing any papers.
- The insurance adjuster may cut off your necessary medical treatment prematurely. Under Florida law, the insurance company has the right to hire their own doctor to determine whether or not they should continue to pay for your medical bills under your own personal injury protection policy (PIP). They have certain doctors who are “hired guns” and for 99% of people they examine, these insurance hired doctors determine that little or no future medical treatment is necessary. The insurance company will then write you a letter saying that your future benefits are terminated. In many cases, the insurance company does this even when your own treating medical doctor determines that you do need future medical treatment.
What to do – Hire a car accident lawyer who is experienced in fighting the Florida insurance company PIP scams! There are tactics that can be used in the so called “independent medical evaluation”, such as: having a videographer present, only bringing legally required information to the examination, and not allowing the doctor to interview you endlessly in order to get information that helps the insurance company, who remember, is the doctor’s employer.
- The insurance adjuster may use delay tactics to wear you down. The insurance adjuster knows that you need money if you are out of work and have medical bills piling up. They know that your household expenses, such as: mortgage or rent payment, car payment, credit card payments, utility bills, are getting further and further behind. They know many people, at some time, will throw up their hands and say, “enough!” and accept the insurance company’s “low ball” offer.
What to do – An experienced Florida personal injury attorney can advise you on strategies to keep from being taken advantage of, it is not hopeless. Get help! Don’t give up.
- The insurance adjuster may have you placed under surveillance. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to make a legitimately injured person appear healthy. Just because you can drag your garbage can to the curb, do some housework, and maybe a little yard work, does not mean that you are not going to “pay” for it later by having more pain. Many injured people have to “work hurt” to put food on the table for their families.
What to do – Look for any suspicious persons around your home or at work (particularly if you have been released to work with light duty restrictions by your doctor!). Follow your doctor’s orders and prescribed activity limitations, even if that means getting some help from family and friends. Do not exaggerate your injuries, as it will only hurt your case.
- The insurance adjuster may act as your friend. The insurance claims adjuster may befriend you and make it appear that she or he is looking out for your best interest, when in fact they are not! Sometimes the adjuster will give you advice about the type or frequency of your medical treatment and then be unwilling to pay for all your medical expenses. Sometimes the claims adjuster encourages you to get back to work immediately even though your own doctor has advised you otherwise. .
What to do – Remember the insurance adjuster is trying to save their company money on your claim. This creates an immediate conflict of interest. Follow your doctor’s orders!
Give me a call at 800 373 8000 for more information. I am here to help you get the justice you deserve.
Seven Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Florida Accident Case, written by Attorney, Jeffrey Meldon, is a consumer guide book for accident cases in Florida. Whether you have been in an accident or not, this book contains valuable information for you! To get your free copy, contact us and request that it be sent to you free of charge or you can request it immediately on line. All free of charge and with no obligation.