Suggesting That you Must Provide a Statement.
Very commonly, insurance personnel will tell accident victims that they must immediately make a statement providing their injuries and damage, or say that doing so will only “speed up the claims process.” In reality, these individuals are highly trained and know how to be both polite and firm in suggesting a course of action to victims that will impair their ultimate right to recover. The goal is to get a victim to admit partial fault, downplay their injuries (particularly if not all of the injuries have yet manifested), or confuse the victim as to the facts of the accident in order to undermine their claim. Often, these statements may be used to discredit the injury victim.
Pretending to Be On Your Side
Claims adjusters and other insurance personnel love to imply that they are doing everything possible to try to “close the case” and get you paid as much as possible as soon as they can. This is, of course, just part of the patter they have been instructed to use in order to gain the trust of accident victims.
One popular tactic is to actually have cheques sent for relatively minor amounts, such as the amount required to get a car fixed, while the injury victim is still receiving treatment for his or her injuries (medical expenses can be significantly more expensive than car repairs). The adjuster may also check up on the victim to “make sure they are doing alright,” and to “see if there is anything else they can do.” They may also ask for more records so that they can be “analyzed” by the insurance carrier.
The real goal is to keep the victim appeased long enough to allow the statute of limitations to expire. In many states, accident claims must be filed within three years in order to avoid the statute of limitations. By trickling out the help in small amounts, victims may feel like the insurance company is on their side and that they will wait patiently to allow the victim to truly discover the extent of the injuries, but nothing could be further from the truth. Once the statute of limitations has expired, the victim loses the right to sue for recovery, and the trickles of money from that insurance company will suddenly stop.
A new tactic in the age of the Internet is to follow accident victims on social media. Insurance companies want to see if you talk about your accident on social media, particularly if you say something that could suggest you have some degree of liability. The insurance company also wants to see if you appear to be engaging in activities that you should not be able to given the extent of your injuries.
So, photos and videos of you out partying or participating in sports, work, or other physical activity that should be prohibited by your injuries could impair your claim. This is true even if there is a logical explanation, such as posing for a staged photo, relying heavily on pain killers, etc.
It is important to keep your head about you, even after an accident. While it may be tempting to want to trust the insurance company and follow their lead on resolving your case, it is probably much wiser to speak to an attorney first. An attorney can not only help you deal with the insurance company, but also seek out the right doctors to treat your injuries that can also testify well on your behalf, get experts to help reconstruct your accident and establish clearly that the other driver was at fault, etc.
Moreover, many attorneys that specialize in accident cases will handle the matter on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not have to pay up-front, and only pay a percentage of the recovery the attorney gets for you if successful. If they do not get you your money, you do not pay.