If you were injured in an accident and need to make a claim to get your medical bills, lost wages or pain and suffering paid for, it is important you know the tricks insurance companies use in personal injury cases. This is especially important if you decide to go it alone, rather than hiring a personal injury lawyer who understands the tactics insurance companies will use against you.
Who is at Fault
Insurance companies are in the business of making money. They will do whatever they can to deny or reduce the cost of your claim. The first line of defense for most insurance companies is to try to deny the claim on the grounds of who is at fault. Insurance companies will try to say you are at fault for your own injuries, or that an act of God caused the injury. Sometime the facts are so clear that the insurance company really cannot use this kind of argument.
When they cannot deny your claim because their client is clearly to blame for your injury, the insurance company will try to find ways to put holes in your case by asking for a recorded interview. You are not required to give an interview by law, so do not be duped by this tactic. The insurance company will ask questions in detail, hoping to find something that will help them defend the claim. Do not give them that opportunity, especially without a lawyer present. Only your own insurance company can force you to provide a recorded interview.
Independent Medical Examination
Another insurance company tactic is to ask for an Independent Medical Examination. Like the recorded interview, only your own insurance company can require you to attend such an examination. In an Independent Medical Examination, the attorney hires a doctor to look over your injuries. Although the doctor is supposed to be unbiased, the insurance company is paying him. It is best not to submit to a medical examination unless your own insurance company asks for it. Check with an attorney if you are unsure.
When the insurance company cannot put any holes in your case, the last resort is to try to negotiate a small settlement with you. While you can go it alone, an experienced personal injury attorney is the best person to handle negotiations. Understand that the insurance company will do everything it can to get you to take a smaller amount than your claim is really worth. This may include arguing your injury was less severe or that the injury was already present before the accident. These arguments are designed to weaken your confidence and get you to quickly settle for some money now rather than risk getting nothing if the case goes to court.
Make sure you stand your ground during negotiations and find out what calculations the insurance company used to come up with their offer. Understand that even if you had an injury before, this accident probably made it worse, so that is no reason to reduce the amount of your settlement. The longer you were out of work because of your injury, the more your case is worth. If you are having a hard time negotiating the settlement, make sure you talk to a personal injury lawyer for advice.