If an individual sustains physical injuries or property damage due to a car accident that was caused by someone else, he or she may be able to file a property damage, or personal injury claim. Although the at-fault driver’s company may offer the individual a settlement, chances are, this initial offer will be lower than the amount he or she is willing to accept.
As one would expect, insurance companies do their best to keep settlement amounts at a minimum; however, this practice is detrimental to those who are left damaged. For this reason, many people choose to hire legal representation following a car wreck. Hiring an experienced car accident attorney ensures the best outcome possible.
4 Common Insurance Tricks After a Car Accident
1. The Insurance Adjuster May Request a Recorded Statement
When the insurance company is prepared to take a statement from those who were involved in the car wreck, the adjuster typically asks for a recorded statement. Although all insurance policies require that their policyholders cooperate with them, most policies do not require that the individual provide the company with a recorded statement.
At this point, an individual can answer the adjuster’s questions or request that the insurance reschedule the interview for a day or two later. Having a day or two to calm down following the car wreck can make it easier to speak with the adjuster about the crash.
2. The Insurance Adjuster May Try to Justify a Low Settlement Amount
For the most part, the insurance adjuster’s job is to review the documentation and offer the lowest settlement amount he or she believes the claimant will accept.
If the claimant refuses the offer, the adjuster will try to justify the lower amount by stating:
- that the amount the individual is asking for is unwarranted;
- that the claimant is at fault (partially or fully), which is why they cannot provide the individual with the compensation he or she is requesting; and/or
- that the documentation provided is inadequate.
3. Claim Denial: Crash Was an Intentional Act of Road Rage
One of the ways that insurance companies have been denying claims is by stating that the accident was no accident at all, but an intentional act of road rage. One such case involved a 60-year-old woman from Seattle who sustained injuries after a truck crossed the centerline and smashed into her vehicle. This woman’s name is Ethel Adams.
Following the accident, she remained in a coma for nine days. When she finally awoke, she spent the next few months in agonizing pain needing continuous care. The insurance company denied Ms. Adams’ claim because, in their opinion, the driver responsible for causing the crash acted deliberately, which means that the accident was not considered ‘an accident.’
Ms. Adams had a $2 million policy and yet her own car insurance company denied her claim: Some of the other nationwide insurance companies that systematically deny claims include State Farm, Allstate and AIG.
4. Denying Valid Claims to Meet Low Payment Goals
Again, in order to keep settlement amounts as low as possible, insurance companies were offering their employees incentive programs geared towards meeting ‘low payment goals.’ Ms. Adams’ insurance company, Farmers insurance, ran the employee incentive program “Quest for Gold.”
According to the American Association for Justice, incentives offered to employees for maintaining low payment goals included pizza parties and gift certificates. However, Farmers is not alone in their insurance company settlement tactics:
For example, Allstate rewarded employees who denied valid claims with portable fridges. The former CEO of AIG, Maurice Greenberg, would have staff systematically reject thousands of valid insurance claims.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Was Not My Fault?
Receiving a fair settlement for injuries following a car wreck is not always easy; therefore, hiring an experienced car accident lawyer can be extremely beneficial.
Here are a few of the reasons you may want to consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney:
- You do not believe that the settlement offer from the insurance company is fair.
- The insurance adjuster is pressuring you to settle the case.
- You are about to reach the two-year statute of limitations on your case.
- The insurance adjuster keeps asking for irrelevant documentation. This tactic may be used to delay your case and/or find a way to discredit you.
Car Accident Insurance Claim Settlement: What You Need to Know
Settling an insurance claim should only be considered once you have finished recovering from the injuries you sustained. If you have been seriously injured and require treatment that extends beyond the two-year statute of limitations for filing a claim, a lawsuit can be filed to preserve your claim.
Once you reach maximum medical improvement and the full extent of your injuries are known, settlement negotiations can begin. If an agreement is not reached, arbitration or mediation is the next step. If the claim remains unresolved, we will begin to prepare for trial.
If you have sustained an injury due to any kind of accident, contact the law office of Johnstone & Gabhart today at 877.416.5457 (toll-free) or 304.343.7100 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney. We will review your case and discuss your options with you. The Johnstone & Gabhart law firm proudly serves clients in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.