Dealing With The At-Fault Party’s Insurance
The at-fault party’s insurance company will want to reach out to you right away when they first learn of the accident. They will try to get a statement from you over the phone. I would recommend that you don’t give a statement to an insurance company without first hiring an auto accident lawyer. The insurance company can learn the essential facts of the accident directly from the police report.
Too often, insurance adjusters will go to an injured person’s hospital room or call them as they are just out of the ER. People in these conditions should not be giving statements to overzealous insurance adjusters. Frequently, they are medicated and have just been through a traumatic event; it’s the wrong time and place to provide such an important thing as a statement. Often people don’t know how badly they are hurt in the immediate aftermath of an automobile accident. When you give a recorded statement, the adjuster may attempt to put “words in your mouth” or attempt to construe facts in a certain way that can hurt your case. It’s very dangerous in an automobile collision case. Proceed with caution!
To protect our clients, our firm will prevent that from happening. We get a letter of representation out to the insurance company and advise them that our client will not be giving a statement to the insurance company. It’s not going to happen without our presence. We need to be there to protect their interests.
You don’t have to answer any of their questions. The claims adjuster may be calling you repeatedly, trying to get a statement. It’s important to them because they want to take anything you say, any potential slip-up you make, and use it against you in a court of law. In a criminal case, the police must notify you of your Miranda rights anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. In the civil context, the insurance company doesn’t have to warn you that they will use any statement you make against you, but that’s exactly what they want to do.
They want to take a statement from you when you’re unprepared, minimize any liability on their insured’s part and minimize their risk of exposure on the claim. In no way, shape, or form are they looking out for your interests. They are looking out for the insurance company’s interest.
Generally, with your own insurance company you have a “duty of cooperation”; written in your insurance policy. But with someone else’s insurance company, you don’t have to cooperate with them. You should only work with them through an experienced automobile accident attorney.
The at-fault party’s insurance company will frequently use the following three tactics to avoid paying out timely on a claim or denying the claim altogether:
One of the insurance company’s main tactics is to delay the case and delay payment. People are often out of work, their medical bills, deductibles, and co-pays are mounting, and their pain and suffering aren’t stopping. Often, the insurance company will delay processing the claim to take economic advantage of the person injured in the automobile accident to leverage the injured party’s financial condition to secure a settlement favorable to the insurance company.
Deny the claim.
Another tactic used by insurance companies is to deny the claim by asserting or arguing that you were “contributorily” or “comparatively” negligent, meaning your actions partially caused the accident. Those defenses, if established, may reduce your recovery or bar you from recovering damages at all. The insurance company may also say you have “assumed the risk” of the injury or come up with a similar legal defense.
Insurance companies may also argue that your claim is barred by the statute of limitations or notice provisions. If you wait too long to give notice or file and serve your lawsuit, your case may be barred due to the statute of limitation. You have no rights after the statute of limitations has passed. Therefore, you don’t want to sit back and let them develop those defenses. They will also use defenses such as failure to mitigate damages, meaning you should have sought additional medical care, but you didn’t. It is a weak defense, but it is used all the time.
They will also try to argue the injured person may have pre-existing conditions or that the injury in this accident wasn’t very bad. They will claim you already had a bad back or neck. They will hire doctors, nurses, lawyers, and adjusters to pore over all those prior records with a fine-tooth comb to prove their defenses.
Another tactic frequently used by insurance companies is forcing you into the litigation process. They don’t want to settle the case fairly with you. They want to force you to file a lawsuit. They want to force your claim to be delayed and force you to increase the expenses you are forced to incur to recover your claim fairly.
In my 30 years of professional practice, I’ve seen a change in their claims handling nationwide. Insurance companies are getting tougher on claims. You need to have a lawyer who has been there before. You need a lawyer who has successfully handled these cases in front of juries and to the Supreme Court and won. You need an attorney who will force the automobile insurance company to pay what the claim is worth. You need to have an attorney the insurance companies respect. My advice to clients often is to stand up for themselves, not cut and run but rather stay and fight. It is the harder way, but it is often the right way to maximize their recovery, not only for them but also for their family.
For more information on Dealing With The At-Fault Party’s Insurance, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 605-332-4000 today.