Have you or a loved one been in an accident due to someone else's negligence? If so, you may find yourself dealing directly with an insurance company to process claims for damage. Often, an insurance company will use tactics to try to deny giving victims compensation. It is important that you are aware of various insurance company tricks utilized to try to devalue your claim and deny paying compensation. If you have been in an accident and are unsure if you are receiving the largest compensation for your claim, an experienced personal injury attorney can help. Contact our offices at The Mark Casto Law Firm at (706) 940-4030 for a free consultation today.
Competing Interests: Your Interests Vs. Insurance Company Interests
It is important to remember that your interests and the interests of the insurance company are inherently different. The primary goal for someone who has been injured is to be fairly compensated for their injuries and losses. The primary goal for insurance companies includes protecting policy owners, settling for as little of an amount as possible, and ultimately protecting company profits.
Due to this, insurance companies will use tactics and tricks to accomplish their goals. They may be extremely difficult to work with and will do everything they can to lessen your chances of receiving maximum compensation or getting you to release your claims against the other party. It is important to be aware of the various insurance company tactics used to deny victims compensation.
Tactic #1 - Gaining Your Trust Quickly
Often, an insurance company will call you as quickly as they can after an accident occurs. They may be very kind to you, asking you how you are and even seeming to want to help with advising on medical coverage or more urgent matters. This insurance company tactic is used to get you to trust them and to potentially get you to say something that can be used against you later on. For example, an insurance company may ask how you are doing and if you say “ok,” they may later claim that your injuries were not as serious as you are making them out to be. This tactic is not only unfair, it directly exploits someone who was recently in an accident and who may still be in the hospital, vulnerable, or recovering from injuries.
An insurance company may call you regularly, seem very concerned with how you are, say that they are on your side, and encourage you to get specific medical treatment only to later deny paying it in full. Regardless of how nice they seem, you must remember that speaking to the insurance company of another party puts you at risk. Anything you share with the insurance company could potentially be used against you in the future. We recommend that if you have been in an accident that results in personal injury that you consider contacting a highly-qualified personal injury attorney. Our experienced team at The Mark Casto Law Firm can help you understand all of your legal rights.
Tactic #2 - Obtaining Inconsistent Actions or Statements
One insurance company tactic that is used regularly is to ask an injured party for a statement regarding the accident. They may ask for this by needing you to “verify the facts” of what happened or may phrase it as simply wanting to hear it from your point of view. This may seem harmless but could be damaging to your case if you accidentally said anything that could be used against you. Here are a few examples of how that might happen:
- They may point out that your injuries are not as severe as the medical treatments you are pursuing if you downplay your injuries.
- They may dispute the facts of who is liable if your version does not line up with that of the other party. They may even claim there is fault on your side.
- They will look for any detail, whether large or small, that supports their case, even if it is taken out of context.
The reality is that an insurance company does not need a statement to process a claim, even if they tell you that they do. They may even say that it will speed up the process. This is not true, either. An insurance company could use anything you say to argue that you are also at fault.
Under Georgia Code Title 51, you cannot recover damages if you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault. Be very careful of speaking with an insurance company at all, and if you must, it is important to consider visiting with a qualified injury attorney to determine if they should speak on your behalf so that your rights can remain protected throughout the process.
Tactic #3 - Using Pre-Existing Conditions Against a Victim
In some cases, an insurance company may ask you to sign a broad medical authorization form, which would allow them access to your medical records. Many times, these documents do not have limits on what types of records they can access or even time limits on when the information must be pulled. Why is this dangerous? An insurance company could point to a prior injury or medical treatment as the cause of an injury related to an accident, therefore denying liability and payment. Anything that can be labeled as a pre-existing condition could potentially be used against you. You do not have to ever give your entire medical history to an insurance company.
Tactic #4 - Offering a Fast and Low Settlement
A very common insurance company tactic used in personal injury cases is to settle as quickly as possible for as little as possible. Insurance companies do this because they know they are taking advantage not only of the fear that an injured party may be feeling but also of the frustration and financial strain that the accident may have brought to their lives.
If an insurance company does offer you a settlement know that it will be small. If the number is larger than you thought it may be less than what you could potentially receive by working with an experienced personal injury attorney. The insurance company may also do this because they know that you are likely to receive ongoing medical treatment and that accident-related injuries could unfold at later points in time. Unfortunately, once you settle you are not able to receive any additional compensation which is a win for insurance companies but may put you in a difficult spot if you agreed to settle early on in your healing process.
Tactic #5 - Delaying the Settlement Process
Another very common insurance company tactic is to delay moving the claim forward as long as possible. They know that you will become frustrated, and they are trying to get you to unknowingly and accidentally pass the statute of limitations for your case.
Under Georgia Code Title 9, victims have two years from the date of injury to file a claim in court to obtain the compensation they deserve under the law. Insurance companies know this and will do everything they can to push you beyond this date, including ignoring you, delaying responses, and even sending you small checks for damages but declining to pay other items (medical bills or otherwise) so the process is drawn out.
Contact an Experienced Georgia Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have experienced any of the above insurance company tactics in an attempt to deny your claim, our experienced legal team at The Mark Casto Law Firm can help advise you on what the value of your claim might be. Also, we can work on your behalf directly with the insurance agency which allows you to focus on recovery and healing. Contact us today at (706) 940-4030 to learn more about how we can help in your specific situation.