Chances are that once you file an accident claim, you will be dealing with an insurance company, which can be a little disconcerting. Insurance adjusters are trained to investigate claims on behalf of their company, so their intention is to minimize the claim. They are trained to protect the insurance company by following procedures that may seek less than favourable settlements.
Here are just a few of the tactical responses you can expect:
- We will fairly address your damages and accept responsibility. Although this sounds promising and gives hope that “fairly” is in your best interest, it is ambiguous for a reason. What is fair to the insurance company is not likely what you deem as fair.
- You may not need an attorney. What the adjuster is hoping is that you will not hire a personal injury attorney. Without one, the victim has no leverage and no knowledge of how the system works, therefore the settlement will most likely be less than if an attorney was involved.
- Let’s get a recorded statement. This is a dual-edged sword. On one hand, the adjuster wants to record the facts so as not to confuse them. On the other hand, most people are nervous about getting recorded so they tend to ramble on, providing information that can be turned against them. Leading and loaded questions are common ploys.
- We can settle this quickly. This is a tactic that gives the adjuster the edge although it sounds promising. If medical treatment has not been completed, then the adjuster will attempt to estimate the cost. The victim ends up releasing liability in order to receive the settlement. Months later, when medical treatment costs continue to mount up, the victim is left holding the invoice without any financial help or remedy.
- We will need to distribute responsibility. This tactic is used in an attempt to reduce damages even though the accident was clearly caused by the person they insured. When an unsuspecting victim is confronted with an aggressive insurance adjuster they often succumb to whatever is presented “as fair”. Once the injured party signs off on this shift in liability, it is very difficult to reverse this agreement later.
- We need to discount the medical bills. Adjusters may claim that the treatment that was received was excessive or unnecessary to the injury. Keep in mind that the adjusters are not medically educated professionals. They are simply looking out for their employer and their future careers.
These are just a few of the potential responses innocent victims hear from insurance adjusters, who often present themselves “on the side of the injured”. The best steps to take after an accident are:
- Seek medical attention immediately, particularly if the injury is serious. You are the priority, the rest of the process can be handled once your health is stable.
- Write down your personal account of the situation before the details are forgotten (how the accident transpired, when, where, and details you recall etc.)
- Review your policy and report the accident to your insurance company.
- File a claim to get the wheels set in motion and to avoid any statute of limitations that may apply down the road. There are time limits on filing claims.
- Gather all accident-related evidence, such as witness statements, photos of the accident, photos of the injuries, etc.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in working with insurance adjusters and accidents of all kinds. At that time, your attorney will advise you whether to file a lawsuit even though a lawsuit is not mandatory or always necessary. Its purpose is to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. If the insurance company’s representative is pushing to settle quickly or is motivated by any compensation-saving tactics, a lawsuit is probably the best option.
At Wynperle Law, we are experienced with every type of personal injury imaginable. We developed an injury checklist for our clients to help them prepare for the legal compensation process. We do not expect our clients to be familiar with the large amount of legal and financial issues that will follow. That is our expertise.
We will work directly with the insurance adjuster who is handling your claim or take the process a step further and prepare for a successful lawsuit. We invite you to meet with us in a complimentary consultation. Our convenient offices are located in Hamilton and Guelph, so please give us a call at 1-866-696-0300 or contact us here.