If you’ve been injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, recovering just compensation will most likely involve dealing with the insurance companies. Unfortunately, this is never an easy process, and many insurance companies make it far more difficult than it should be.
The insurance companies use several tactics to deny injury victims’ insurance claims and pay them less than they deserve. While some of these tactics are legitimate, others are not. If you have a claim it is important to know what to expect, and it is best to put an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer on your side.
Here are 10 common insurance defense tactics in personal injury cases:
1. Trying to Get Accident Victims to Admit Fault
When you contact an insurance company about your accident, one of the first things the insurance company will do is try to get you to make a statement on the record. The reason for this is simple: The insurance company wants you to admit fault so it can use your own words against you. The adjuster will let you talk as much as you want, and the adjuster will ask leading questions designed to get you to acknowledge that the accident could have been your fault.
2. Blaming Accident Victims for Their Own Injuries
Another common insurance defense tactic is to blame accident victims for their own injuries. One of the most common ways insurance companies do this is by claiming that accident victims waited too long to seek treatment. If you had sought treatment sooner, you could have avoided many of your costs, and this means that your costs are your problem—not the insurance company’s.
Just like efforts to get accident victims to admit fault, efforts to blame accident victims for their own injuries often are not based on facts. Instead, they are nothing more than baseless attempts to avoid paying victims the compensation they deserve.
3. Disputing Whether Victims’ Injuries are Accident-Related
In this same vein, insurance companies will also try to deny claims by disputing whether victims’ injuries are accident-related. This can involve either: (i) claiming that a victim’s injuries are pre-existing; or, (ii) claiming that a victim suffered his or her injuries after the accident. An experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer should be able to use your medical records to dispute these claims.
4. Withholding Key Information from the Insurance Company’s Investigation
Insurance companies will try to take advantage of the fact that they have superior access to information. If an insurance company has information from its investigation that supports your claim for just compensation, it may withhold this information—forcing you to hire a lawyer to collect it for you.
5. Ignoring the Information Accident Victims Provide
In addition to withholding information from you, the insurance companies may also simply ignore the information that you provide. If you are constantly repeating yourself and resubmitting photos or records to no avail, this doesn’t mean that what you have is unimportant. In fact, it probably means that the insurance company knows this is some of the most important evidence in support of your claim.
6. Misrepresenting the Available Insurance Coverage
When you have an insurance claim, you cannot rely on the insurance company to tell you how much coverage is available. This applies to all forms of coverage—from rental car coverage (insurance companies will often book the cheapest vehicle possible even if you paid for more) to bodily injury liability coverage (insurance companies will often claim they aren’t allowed to tell you the relevant policy limits). Instead of relying on the insurance company, you should review your policy yourself—or rely on your New Jersey personal injury lawyer to find out how much coverage is available to you.
7. Delaying Claims As Long As Possible
If it seems like your insurance claim is taking longer than necessary, your suspicions are probably correct. Delay tactics are extremely common—because the insurance companies know that the longer your claim takes, the more likely you are to give in and accept what they eventually offer to pay (if they offer anything at all). While following up on a regular basis might help speed the process along, you will need to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer if you want to obtain a fair settlement as quickly as possible.
8. Making Lowball Settlement Offers
Speaking of a fair settlement, when you have a personal injury claim, you need to be wary of receiving a lowball settlement offer. If the insurance company makes the first offer, this offer will almost certainly be for less—and probably for far less—than you deserve. Before you even think about settling, you need to make sure you have a comprehensive picture of the financial and non-financial losses you are entitled to recover.
9. Telling Accident Victims They Don’t Need a Lawyer
If you ask an insurance adjuster whether you need a lawyer, the adjuster’s answer will almost always be “No”. But, while this may technically be true—strictly speaking, you don’t need a lawyer—it is still strongly in your best interests to hire one.
There are several reasons why. From proving who was at fault in the accident to calculating a fair settlement, there are numerous ways a lawyer can help with your insurance claim. If an insurance adjuster says you don’t need a lawyer, you should question why the adjuster doesn’t want you to get a lawyer involved.
10. Denying Accident Victims’ Claims in Bad Faith
Finally, sometimes insurance companies will simply deny accident victims’ claims in bad faith. While this isn’t okay, it is a common occurrence. By hiring an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer to represent you, you can significantly reduce your risk of a bad-faith denial, and you can set yourself up to fight a bad-faith denial if necessary.
Discuss Your Claim with a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer for Free
If you have been injured in an accident, we strongly recommend that you hire a New Jersey personal injury lawyer to deal with the insurance companies for you. To learn how we help our clients maximize the value of their insurance claims, call 877-435-6371 or request a free consultation online today.