They’ll Call to Take Your Statement
An insurance adjuster may call you to “gather facts” about the accident. They’ll be very kind while explaining they need your statement of facts in order to make an informed decision about the claim. They may even want to record your statement or get you to sign it so you’ll be bound by whatever you say.
If the at-fault party’s insurance company is calling, then you don’t have to agree to a statement. Whatever you say will be used to help them decide how much money they are willing to pay, or if they are going to deny liability and pay nothing for the claim at all.
Be careful talking to adjusters. You may think the statement you are giving is harmless (after all, you’re only giving them the facts, right?), but adjusters have a way of taking what you say and using it against you, which gives them leverage to pay very little or deny the claim altogether.
They’ll Ask You to Sign a Medical Authorization Form
Adjusters may claim they need you to sign a Medical Authorization Form in order to get copies of the medical treatment and bills related to your injury claim. Be careful. Signing one of these forms may give them access to all your medical history, which would allow them to see any pre-existing conditions that could be used against you for your injury claim. The insurance company should only be allowed to see medical records related to the accident and nothing else.
Tip: If you sign a Medical Authorization Form for the Insurance Company, make sure it’s not an “open-ended” authorization. Make sure it’s for the time period relevant to the accident only. Make sure it does not grant them access to past medical records, and it is not in effect for an indefinite period of time.
The Adjuster May Tell You That “You Don’t Need a Lawyer”
Insurance companies prefer to deal with you, not lawyers. Usually, having a lawyer increases the value of your case, and adjusters know this. Adjusters work for the insurance company, not you. Their job is to keep settlement amounts as low as possible. Injury lawyers are familiar with the tactics adjusters use to get claimants to agree to settlement amounts that are below what their case is really worth.
Examples of things an adjuster may say to make you think you don’t need a lawyer:
“If you hire a lawyer, they’ll get a portion of your settlement off the top. We can work together to get you top dollar without having to pay a lawyer.” At Gautreaux Law, we won’t take a case unless we think we can get you more money than what the insurance company would offer you.
They might try to convince you that, “Hiring a lawyer will slow down the claims process.” Adjusters may threaten this as they suspect you need your car fixed and medical bills paid as quickly as possible. They want you to be afraid that hiring a lawyer would make you have to wait longer for your settlement.
They might tell you that, “It doesn’t matter if you have a lawyer or not, the settlement amount will be the same, that’s all the insurance company is going to offer.” This is often a bluff to get you to settle the claim quickly.
They may threaten that “We’ll have to take your deposition if a lawyer gets involved.” The only time they’ll take your deposition is if a lawsuit gets filed, and most cases settle prior to a lawsuit being filed.
They’ll Threaten That “If You Don’t Accept the Offer Being Given, We’ll Withdraw All Offers”
As a claimant, you have three options to keep in mind: 1) You can accept the offer, but with the understanding that it will end your case and you cannot under any circumstances go back later and ask for more money for anything related to the injury being negotiated; 2) You can refuse the offer in the hopes that they’ll come back with more money; or 3) You can file a lawsuit.
Having an attorney on your side can help you in several ways: 1) attorneys communicate with adjusters so you don’t have to. This prevents you from saying something that may hurt your case, and it allows you to focus on recovering from your injuries; 2) attorneys negotiate on your behalf to help you get top dollar for your case; 3) attorneys can file a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to pay you what your case is worth.
The attorneys at Gautreaux Law are experienced, well-known, trusted injury lawyers. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’ve been injured in an accident. We’ll talk to you free of charge and tell you if we think you have a case we can help you with. Gautreaux Law, LLC (478) 238-9758