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How Insurance Companies Undercut Your Compensation

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During the chaos and confusion in the days after a serious car accident, it’s common to reach out for a lifeline when an insurance company offers a settlement for your damages like property damage to your vehicle, medical expenses, and lost wages, but are insurance companies actually acting in your best interests? Sadly, insurance companies are privately owned and in business to make profits—often at your expense.

How do insurance companies devalue claims to protect their company’s bottom line? It’s important to know the tactics commonly used by insurance adjusters to undercut your compensation with an unreasonably low settlement offer.

How Insurance Companies Undercut Your Compensation

An Insurance Adjuster May Offer an Early Settlement

One of the most common and successful methods insurance companies use to undercut compensation is to reach out to the accident victim very soon after the accident with a low settlement offer. They may even pressure the car accident victim to accept the offer by stating that they may reduce the amount after further investigating the accident.

Accepting an early settlement offer requires signing away the right to pursue further compensation or file a lawsuit later. Insurance adjusters intentionally make these fast settlement offers before the victim even knows the full extent of their damages. For example, some injuries do not even present symptoms during the first day or so after an accident but become clear after inflammation sets in. Even very serious brain injuries may take days to develop. If a car accident victim has already accepted a settlement and signed away their right to a lawsuit, they cannot make a claim for compensation for further injuries.

Even if you do not discover additional injuries you may not have a clear picture of how costly your medical care will be and how much time you’ll miss from work until weeks after the accident.

Calling You on a Recorded Line

Many business calls now inform the other party that their call is being recorded “for quality purposes” but no car accident victim should ever agree to speak to an insurance representative on a recorded line. The insurance adjuster may sound compassionate over the phone, but their intent is often to lead the victim into saying something that compromises their claim. When they record a phone call, they may take your remarks out of context to use against you later. For instance, a simple, automatic response like “I’m fine, thank you,” becomes an “admission” that you aren’t as injured as you claim, or a statement like “I never saw him coming” is misrepresented as an admission of fault for the accident.

The insurance adjuster may tell you they are sorry for what you’re going through and that they understand that the accident was their client’s fault, but then ask for you to tell your side of the story. They can isolate recorded phrases and use your words against you later to undervalue your compensation.

Assigning You a Portion of the Blame for the Accident

The majority of states have fault-based insurance laws like Missouri’s pure comparison negligence insurance system. This allows accident victims to recover damages even if they are partly at fault for the accident. The amount of their compensation is lowered by their percentage of fault. Unfortunately, this system also incentivizes insurance companies to assign injury victims a percentage of fault for the accident to lower the claim by that amount. For example, if they find you 30% at fault for an accident in which the other driver ran a red light because you were exceeding the speed limit by five miles per hour, they can lower a $100,000 payout to $70,000. Remember, protecting their company’s profits is the ultimate goal of every insurance adjuster regardless of how caring they sound on the phone and the warmhearted commercials insurance companies use to attract clients.

Asking for a Medical Authorization

Insurance adjusters commonly ask victims to grant them medical authorization so they can examine the medical report of the accident injuries; however, often these are blanket authorizations that allow the insurance company to scour through your entire medical history seeking a pre-existing condition or previous injury they can claim is the real cause of your pain or symptoms.

Never sign a blanket medical authorization allowing an insurance company to access your private medical records. Instead, ask your doctor for a detailed medical report of your accident-related injuries, the doctor’s treatment recommendations, and your ultimate prognosis for recovery. The insurance company should base its decision only on information about your current injuries from the car accident and not on your past medical history which you do not have to share with them.

Claiming That Your Medical Treatment Isn’t Necessary

Insurance companies may consult with their own medical experts and decide that your trusted doctor’s advice isn’t correct and their recommended medical treatment isn’t necessary for your injury. In some cases, they claim that the treatment isn’t necessary based on the minimal damage to your vehicle. However, serious injuries like whiplash can occur even in accidents with very little property damage to a vehicle.

Following You on Social Media to “Catch” You Appearing Fit

It’s important to avoid posting on social media until after you settle your car accident claim. Insurance adjusters may follow your social media presence after an accident. If you posted something like, “We had a terrible car accident last night, but thankfully we are all okay,” they can claim this is your admission that you were not injured in the accident, even if you really meant you were thankful to survive. They may also your posted photos against you. For example, if you post a photo of yourself cheering at your child’s soccer game, they can claim that you aren’t as injured as you’ve stated even if you were smiling through your very real pain.

Delaying and Asking for Redundant Paperwork

Finally, insurance adjusters commonly stall, delay, and ask victims to fill out paperwork over and over again in the hopes of wearing them down so they’ll gratefully accept a low settlement offer when they finally make one.  An attorney can protect you against unnecessary delays and stalling tactics by demanding prompt action.

If you’ve suffered injuries with significant economic and non-economic damages after an accident, you should always seek legal representation.

call a St. Louis car accident lawyer

Call The Floyd Law Firm Before Speaking to Insurance Representatives

No one should go it alone against powerful insurance companies when so much is at stake after an accident. An experienced car accident attorney protects their client against common insurance company tactics and maximizes the amount their client recovers after an accident. Call our St. Louis car accident attorneys today and then direct all communication with the insurance company to your lawyer.