After an accident, the first thing that comes to mind is usually getting medical attention. The second is probably insurance. Injured people deal with insurance adjusters all the time, and knowing how to conduct yourself might help you protect your legal rights and interests.
The first thing to understand is that insurance adjusters are not on your side. Their role is to protect the insurance company. Negotiating with insurance adjusters can be tricky, and you should be careful what you say. An attorney can help you develop effective negotiation tactics. The insurance adjuster might also investigate your claims to detect fraud and find reasons to reduce your compensation. Recorded statements are also par for the course when it comes to insurance claims, and an attorney can help you explain your situation while protecting your interests. The adjuster might offer a settlement, and you should be wary of low offers. You should also be mindful of deadlines on your claim or potential lawsuit. Hiring an attorney can help you get compensation while protecting yourself from predatory insurance adjusters.
Schedule a free case evaluation with our Maryland personal injury attorneys by calling Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.
The Role and Allegiance of Insurance Adjusters
Before you begin an insurance claim, one important thing to understand is the role the insurance adjuster plays. While you might rely on the insurance company to help you in your time of need, the insurance adjuster is not there for you. They are there for their employer. Their job is not to ensure you get financial compensation for your injuries but to determine if the insurance company has to pay you.
The insurance adjuster will likely review your claims in a very black-and-white manner. Either the policy covers your claims or it does not. To make matters worse, the insurance adjuster always looks out for the insurance company’s bottom line. If they can find a way to legally justify denying your claim or reducing compensation, they will do so. At the end of the day, the insurance adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company money.
However, the insurance adjuster is not exactly your enemy. While they might not prioritize your injuries and financial woes, they should not be actively working against you. If your policy clearly covers your injuries, the insurance adjuster should make should your claims are paid for as they are legally obligated to do so. Call a lawyer immediately if you believe the insurance adjuster in your case wrongfully denied your claims or engaged in bad faith dealings to cheat you out of compensation.
How an Injury Plaintiff Should Negotiate with Insurance Adjusters
Since insurance adjusters are primarily looking out for their employer’s bottom line, it is safe to say that you should communicate with them in a defensive way. You can think of negotiating with insurance adjusters as similar to answering questions from the police. Anything you say can and will be used against you. As such, you should speak to a lawyer to determine if there are any topics you should avoid discussing.
Insurance adjusters are usually trained to negotiate in favor of the insurance company, meaning they are working to save the company money. Adjusters might try to undervalue your claim, and they often rely on claimants not knowing the true value of their injuries. This makes getting a lawyer extremely important because your lawyer can help you determine how much compensation you should get before entering any negotiations.
Avoiding certain topics or even specific phrases is important. For example, if you were injured in a car accident where the other driver is clearly at fault, you should avoid making any apologies. Even saying something like “I’m so sorry the other driver was hurt” could be twisted into an admission of wrongdoing, and the adjuster might reduce your compensation.
When negotiating with insurance adjusters or communicating with the insurance company on any level, you should get advice from your lawyer first. Your Bel Air personal injury lawyer attorney can help you avoid saying anything that makes you look bad or would be used to deny your claim. Insurance adjusters might take your claims more seriously if they know you are represented by a capable attorney.
How Insurance Adjusters Might Investigate Your Injury Case
Insurance adjusters often investigate your claims and work with authorities to gather evidence regarding your injuries. Insurance adjusters have been known to employ surveillance tactics to monitor claimants while insurance claims are pending. It is important to meet with your attorney to discuss the possibility of an investigation from your insurance adjuster.
Adjusters often work with law enforcement agencies to get more information about how your accident and injuries happened. In many cases, insurance companies not only want to see police reports but might require an accident report for the claim to move forward. The insurance adjuster might contact law enforcement to obtain a copy of the report. In many states, accident reports are public records, and insurance adjusters have little trouble getting copies.
Medical records are also something insurance adjusters often want to review. Since your medical records are private, adjusters often need permission from the patient to review medical records. In cases involving bodily injuries, the insurance adjuster will likely request copies of your medical records. An attorney can help you determine which parts of your medical records should be reviewed and which should remain private.
Under certain circumstances, insurance adjusters might have a claimant surveilled or monitored. For example, they might request copies of security camera tapes from where you were injured to determine if they are liable for payment. In somewhat more extreme situations, they might hire private investigators to follow and watch you, usually from a distance. While this is more common in cases where adjusters highly suspect fraud, it is still possible and should be taken very seriously.
How Injury Plaintiffs Should Provide Recorded Statements to Insurance Adjusters
Recorded statements are another common request from insurance adjusters. Generally, claimants may be asked to meet with insurance adjusters and answer questions about their claims. Their statements are recorded and saved by the adjuster for further review. Considering how your recorded statements may live on indefinitely and be reviewed by other people handling your claim, it is crucial that you speak to an attorney, so you answer the questions in a way that helps your case.
Recorded statements can be intimidating since any slip-ups will be preserved and used against you. However, they also provide you with a unique advantage. Since the time and place of recording these statements are planned in advance, we have time to review your case and determine what you should say to the insurance adjuster.
A recorded statement might be optional rather than mandatory, depending on your insurance company. Ask your attorney if you can refuse the insurance adjuster’s request for a recorded statement. This might be a good idea if your injuries occurred in a rather unusual way and you are afraid the insurance company will only use your statements to deny your claim. Alternatively, you might want to avoid giving a recorded statement if you are simply not a good public speaker and fear saying the wrong thing at an inopportune moment.
Working Out a Settlement Offer with an Insurance Adjuster for Your Injuries
The moment every claimant waits for is the settlement offer from the insurance adjuster. If your claim is approved, the insurance adjuster should offer you money as compensation for your injuries per your policy. In many cases, insurance adjusters intentionally lowball claimants in the hopes that they are eager to put the whole process behind them and take the first offer. Before accepting any settlement offer, talk to a lawyer to determine if you are getting fair compensation or being taken advantage of.
Your settlement is often the result of negotiations. In some cases, particularly with smaller claims clearly covered by the policy, the settlement offer covers the full extent of damages, and little negotiation is required. In cases where a lot of money is on the line, and your injuries and damages are numerous, the insurance adjuster might search for ways to reduce their offer.
Perhaps the most important evidence we need during settlement talks with the insurance adjuster is your insurance policy. The policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. If the policy clearly states that your injuries must be fully covered or covered up to a certain amount, the insurance adjuster cannot wiggle out of those terms without breaching the contract. Our Waldorf personal injury attorneys can help you remind the insurance company that a breach of contract may be met with a lawsuit.
Time Limits and Deadlines for Injury Plaintiffs When Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
One very important detail to consider when dealing with insurance adjusters is deadlines. Not only may the insurance company impose strict deadlines on when you can file a claim, but there are deadlines on when you might file a lawsuit if things with the insurance adjuster do not go your way.
It is important to check your policy for any time limits and speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Your specific deadlines might vary based on the nature of your claim (e.g., car accident claims vs. health insurance claims) and the terms of your policy. It is common for insurance companies to impose filing deadlines of at least a few weeks after an accident, although you should speak to your attorney to figure out the specifics.
You must also be mindful of the insurance laws in your state. Many aspects of the insurance industry are heavily regulated, including when claimants can file claims. Many states have laws that impose minimum time limits so that insurance companies cannot impose ridiculously tight deadlines that nobody can meet. Even so, your lawyer can help you avoid missing any deadlines.
There are also deadlines to file civil lawsuits regarding your injuries. For example, after a car accident, injured drivers might file insurance claims but also have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. Much like your insurance claim, you have a limited time to file a civil lawsuit against the other party.
The option to sue is often used strategically by injured claimants. Insurance adjusters know you might sue if they deny your claim, so they are incentivized to make a decent settlement offer. However, insurance adjusters sometimes play dirty and try to stall your claims to run down the clock on your potential lawsuit.
If the statute of limitations on your personal injury claim expires, the insurance company might make you a paltry settlement offer because they know you have no other cards left to play. This kind of bad faith dealing is grounds for a lawsuit against the insurance company and is often illegal.
Why You Should Hire an Injury Attorney for Your Insurance Claims
People often believe that they can handle insurance claims on their own. In reality, navigating the insurance claims process can be extremely complicated, time-consuming, and frustrating. If your case is highly contentious or involves significant damages, the insurance adjuster might push back hard on your claims, and an attorney can help you fight for the fair compensation you are entitled to under your policy.
A lawyer can help you gather everything you need to begin your claim so the insurance adjuster does not blindside you. First, you need evidence of your accident and injuries. Second, you need to establish that the policy covers your injuries. You must also be prepared for how the insurance adjuster will poke holes in your case. For example, they might accuse you of fraud, conduct an investigation, or even monitor your activities to find ways to deny your claim.
You should hire an attorney who can gather strong evidence to support your claims and prepare you on how to conduct yourself when communicating with insurance adjusters. Perhaps the biggest benefit a lawyer can offer is the advantage of being prepared.
Call Our Personal Injury Lawyers to Discuss Your Insurance Claims Today
Schedule a confidential evaluation of your case for no charge with our Baltimore personal injury lawyers by calling Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.