Accident Victims: An Insurance Adjuster is Not Your Friend

Accident Victims: An Insurance Adjuster is Not Your Friend

Many of our clients find that although they dutifully pay their auto insurance premiums every month when an unfortunate event occurs and it is time to file a claim, the speed, and efficiency with which the claim is handled leaves a lot to be desired.  In addition to delays, other problems our clients run into include low offers on their totaled vehicle and having to jump through hoops to get Medical Payments issued. 

The above problems occur when it is the client’s OWN insurance company; now imagine the difficulties involved when dealing with the insurance company covering the person who was at fault for the accident.  Frustration with insurance adjusters is one of the main factors that compel accident victims to hire our firm.  Below we will discuss a couple of ways in which an insurance company will try to pay you less than you deserve.

Not Accepting Fault - Even When It Is Clear

It is very frustrating when a client without collision coverage on their own policy must wait weeks for the other person’s insurance to accept liability (fault) in order to get their car repaired.  Even when the liability is obvious, such as a rear-end collision, often the insurance company will delay its fault determination for as long as possible, leaving the victim with an unsafe or undrivable vehicle.

The Recorded Statement

As soon as a claim is filed following an accident, the other insurance will begin calling the victim and asking him to give a recorded statement.  During this statement, the victim will be asked for the details of the crash and to document any of his injuries.  Although the adjusters are usually very friendly and will tell the victim that they are only trying to help, the real purpose of the recorded statement is to find a reason to deny fault.  If that tactic fails, the insurance company will use the statements the victim made regarding his injury to play down the seriousness of those injuries.  Often these statements are given by an unsuspecting client within a day or two of the accident before he understands the full significance of the injuries he sustained.  The adjuster knows that it is human nature to downplay one’s pain.  The insurance company will use the fact that an accident victim says “I feel okay” or “mostly fine” against him down the road.

Discouraging Accident Victims from Hiring a Lawyer

On a regular basis we hear from our clients that before they retained our firm, the insurance adjuster told them that they would get more money if they handled the claim on their own without the help of an attorney.  Those same clients tell us that when it became time to talk settlement, the adjuster would offer a shockingly low amount and refuse to negotiate further.  We have found through years of experience that an accident victim will be much better off monetarily with attorney representation.  Unfortunately, this tactic can be particularly harmful to a case, since attorney input early in the matter can help avoid pitfalls and put the case in the best position going forward. 

Researching a Victim's Past

The adjuster, once he secures some background information from an accident victim while taking the recorded statement, can then perform a computer search to look for prior injuries.  Insurance companies share information about claims and maintain an open database with which adjusters can find that (for instance) a person had an auto accident five years prior and complained of neck pain at that time.  Given that information, the adjuster will attack the victim’s current symptoms, claiming they are the result of a “pre-existing injury”. 

Insurance adjusters will also look for an accident victim’s social media posts that could be used to downplay injuries or contradict a prior statement.  They may even search local courts to find any record of criminal history.  Any “dirt” found on a victim, no matter how irrelevant to the auto accident claim, will be used to diminish the value of the victim’s damages.  An attorney will know how to combat such accusations, and insurance adjusters know that.  In fact, when an attorney is involved, the adjuster may not even bring up such clearly irrelevant information. 

The bottom line is it never hurts to contact an attorney immediately after an automobile accident for advice and representation for an injury claim. 

The following video explains more about why an insurance adjuster is not on your side. 

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer. An injury accident can cause devastating consequences, physically and financially. If you or a member of your family has been involved in a car accident and you've been severely injured, call me for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See our case history of verdicts and settlements and our client reviews on Google, Yelp and AVVO.

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