When someone has been injured in an accident or suffered any other type of personal injury and someone else was at fault, they have a legal right to compensation for their losses. Recovering just compensation for your injuries is not always an easy process, however. In the vast majority of cases, the responsible party is not going to freely admit fault and write you a check that more than covers all your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Most of the time, you will not even be dealing with the person or party that caused your injury. Usually, you will be working with their insurance company to resolve the claim. Dealing with an insurer can be a complicated and confusing process, however, especially if you have never been through this before. This is made worse by the fact that insurance companies often look to take advantage of your inexperience by setting various traps that are designed to weaken your case.
It is important to remember that the goal of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible for your injury claim. So, no matter how “nice” insurance adjusters may seem, they are looking out for the interests of their employer, which means their interests are not aligned with yours.
There are several tactics insurance companies may use in an injury case to try to trip you up, here are some of the most common:
Asking for an Official Statement
Insurance companies typically contact those who are injured in an accident shortly after the incident was reported, often within just a few days. The goal of this call is to build rapport and make you believe they are on your side before you’ve had a chance to speak with a lawyer. Once they think they have earned your trust, they will often ask for a recorded statement from you. They may present this as a formality that is needed to process the claim. The problem is that insurers will usually word the questions in a way that is designed to get you to admit fault or otherwise weaken your case. This is why it is never a good idea to give a recorded statement without first speaking with an attorney.
Asking for a Medical Release
Another request that is usually presented as a formality is for you to sign a medical release. The insurance company might tell you that they need this release in order to obtain your medical bills so they can pay them. But signing a medical release also gives the insurance company the right to look into your entire medical history. They will use this opportunity to search for evidence of previous injuries or preexisting conditions, which they will use as the basis to claim that your current injuries were not actually caused by the underlying accident. The insurance company does not need a medical release to pay your bills, and as with the official statement, you should never give them this release without first talking to your lawyer.
Offering you Less than Your Claim is Worth
When someone is injured in an accident, their medical bills can quickly start to pile up, and they may also be out of work for a while during their recovery. Insurance companies know that under these conditions, injury victims are often highly motivated to get their settlement check sooner rather than later. So, they look to take advantage of this vulnerability by making a lowball settlement offer shortly after you file your claim. In most cases, however, what they offer is far lower than what your claim is really worth. In fact, many times, it is impossible to know the full extent of your injuries, estimated recovery time, etc. within just a few days or even a week or two after the accident. Never accept a settlement offer from an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Delaying your Claim Unnecessarily
If you do not provide any statements or releases or take the insurance company’s settlement offer, they may just stop communicating with you for long periods of time. Their hope is that you will get frustrated and give up and/or that they can “run out the clock” and cause you to forfeit your right to file a personal injury lawsuit. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years. This may seem like plenty of time, but if you are not hearing from the insurance company for several months at a time, three years can go by fast. If the insurance company is unnecessarily delaying your claim, get in touch with an attorney right away.
Call the Skilled Accident Injury Lawyers at Peake & Fowler
If or a loved one was injured through no fault of your own, the insurance company will use all kinds of tricks and tactics to try to devalue your claim or deny it all together. To help ensure that you are able to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve, get in touch with the seasoned attorneys at Peake & Fowler. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 to schedule your free consultation. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Columbia, SC office in person at your convenience.