When you sue someone who injured you, you’re more often than not going after that person’s insurance company. There’s a good chance that you’ll hear from an adjuster shortly after your injury. It’s always a good idea to retain a skilled Northern Virginia personal injury attorney before you speak with an insurer.
Common Insurance Company Tactics
Whether you retain legal counsel or not, beware of these common tricks the insurance company might use on you.
Recorded statements. Any time the insurance company calls you, be careful. The company will start to ask questions about the accident and will want you to give a recorded statement. Although this doesn’t sound too bad – you’re probably the one person who is most familiar with the details of your accident – insurance companies have a number of techniques they use on unsuspecting victims. These are designed to trick the victim to accidentally say something which can be used to undermine their claim later.
Not all victims are thinking clearly right after an accident. You will probably still be upset and unable to give the best answers. Also, you likely don’t even fully understand the injuries you’ve suffered. Some of them may not have manifested themselves yet. Insurance adjusters know that this is a good time to pounce, so they may exploit your condition to get you to “admit” things that aren’t even true.
Insurance companies can find ways to have these recorded statements introduced in court to show the nature and extent of your injuries. Of course, the insurance company will try to downplay how hurt you were, which in turn means they will attempt to pay you less than your claim is worth. Remember, the insurance company is not on your side. An adjuster may sound sympathetic on the phone, but at the end of the day, they don’t work for you. The best bet is to defer any questions from the insurance company to your attorney
Hiring a private investigator. Insurance companies routinely use this tactic to make sure the victim’s claimed injuries are real. If you’ve truly been hurt, you may not think there’s anything wrong with this; after all, what do you have to hide? The problem, however, is how the insurance company uses the information. And it’s usually not about what was recorded, but what wasn’t.
Let’s say you have work restrictions from your doctor after a serious injury. Perhaps you follow those limitations perfectly for the vast majority of the time. But work restrictions often take practice, and force of habit may compel you to accidentally – and briefly – deviate from them. You can expect this deviation to be recorded by a private investigator. And you can also count on the 99% of the time you acted in accordance with your restrictions to not be recorded.
Medical releases. The adjuster may send the injured victim a medical release to sign, which will allow them to access certain records of yours. It’s understandable that the insurance company wants to know the nature of the injuries you sustained. However, insurers often ask victims to sign what is called a general release. These are broad in scope and could open you up to potential problems.
Signing a general release could expose your entire medical history to the insurance company, and not just the part of it that pertains to your accident. The insurer may try to argue that your injuries were aggravated by a preexisting condition (and point to your records to support that claim) rather than the negligence of their policyholder. That information is then used to argue for a lower payout than your claim is worth. Victims should always carefully review anything the insurance company asks them to sign, and of course, consult with an attorney before doing so.
Contact Our Northern Virginia Personal Injury Attorney Today
These are just a few of the reasons to err on the safe side and trust a dedicated Northern Virginia personal injury attorney. Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP represents clients who have suffered from all types of accidents. We’re ready to get to work for you today.