The Top 5 Ways Insurance Companies Push Injured People Around
We know their tricks, and we know how to fight back
Being injured in an accident is bad enough, but for too many people, it’s just the beginning of the pain. Now you must deal with the insurance company, and they think nothing of bullying injured people for the sake of their bottom line. To them, it’s just business: they make their money by collecting as much as they can in premiums and paying as little as they can in claims.
To you, though, it’s your life and your future at stake. You need to know what you’re up against – and ultimately, you need a personal injury attorney to level the playing field.
Tactic 1: The leading or loaded question
When an insurance company calls you, their representative will sound nothing but helpful. They are trained to talk like they’re on your side and just need a few details from you in order to process your claim. Then, they will slip in leading questions like “were you going too fast?” or seemingly innocuous statements such as “I’m glad you’re feeling okay!” that they can later use to downplay or deny your injuries.
If you have to talk to an insurance company – and let’s be clear, you are not obligated to talk to the other driver’s insurance company at all, and you really shouldn’t – then the best practice is to stick to the facts. Answer their questions as concisely as possible and do not volunteer any information. Don’t say anything about fault for the accident. Push back on anything the representative says that you don’t agree with. Above all, don’t comment on your injuries. Say you are receiving medical treatment and leave it at that.
The best option, though, is to hire an experienced attorney and let us talk to the insurance company on your behalf. When you hire our law firm, the first thing we will do is send a letter to the insurance company (and any other interested parties) to let them know you are now represented by counsel and they can send all further communications to us.
Tactic 2: The recorded statement
If an insurance company asks you to give them a statement over the phone, or asks for your consent to record your conversation, refuse. A recorded statement can easily be taken out of context or even doctored to make it sound like you admitted fault for the accident. They will twist your words to their advantage, leaving you in a weaker position. There is no requirement that you give a recorded statement to the insurance company who represents the other party that caused the accident. Feel free to tell them to pound sand. Better yet, let us do it. It is one of the reasons we love what we do.
The way to protect your rights in this situation is to sit down with your attorney to craft a written statement that accurately tells your side of the story and protects your legal rights. Putting it in writing means you have a record of your statement in case the insurance company later misrepresents what you said.
Tactic 3: Delay, delay, delay
Sometimes, claims get delayed for mysterious reasons. Or the insurance company asks for document after document – one at a time, of course – to drag the process out. They keep dangling the money you need just out of your reach. “Oh, just one more thing…” quickly becomes an exhausting refrain.
The reason they stall is simple: they want you to give up and accept whatever lowball figure they offer just to make it stop – and once you accept their money, that’s it. There is also a legal deadline, called the statute of limitations, that can shut down your claim entirely if you wait too long without filing a lawsuit. They have all the time in the world to try to wait you out.
This is why it’s so important to have an attorney who knows how to push your case forward and keep you in the fight no matter how long the insurance company tries to drag it out. With the right lawyer on your side, time becomes your friend, not your enemy. Here’s an example from attorney Ben Swanson’s response to an insurance adjuster who was trying to reduce the value of our client’s case:
"Take this case for example. Time is actually your enemy here. My client is having a neck fusion performed. This will change the verdict range drastically. You are no longer able to settle this case fore the underlying policy of $1M."
Tactic 4: Signing your rights away
Again, once you sign on the dotted line and take the insurance company’s settlement offer, that’s it. Your right to pursue more compensation is gone. Settlement offers aren’t the only thing you should be wary of signing, though. For instance, an insurance company may ask you to sign a medical release, saying they just want access to your post-accident medical evaluation, which sounds reasonable enough – but the release actually gives them access to all your medical records, even those unrelated to the accident, so they can go hunting for pre-existing conditions.
This one is simple: never sign anything for an insurance company without reviewing it with your lawyer first. We can review each document, explain how it will affect your legal situation, and push back on the insurance company to protect your rights.
Tactic 5: “You don’t need an attorney.”
They probably won’t explicitly tell you not to hire a lawyer, but that will be the clear implication. “We’re on your side,” they say. They’ll tell you that they will take care of you, that the matter can be settled between you. Of course, they’ll call their lawyer immediately after they’re done talking to you.
The real question is not whether you need an attorney, but rather whether you pick the right law firm. We will often take over a case that was handled by another law firm that has a bad reputation of taking what the insurance company offers instead of what the case is worth. Or we will enter into a case where the greedy insurance companies have offered a few thousand dollars to an unrepresented individual, only to end up settling for a few hundred thousand or a few million dollars with us in the fight.
The insurance companies know the power of legal representation, and they know people who hire the right attorney recover more on average than those who don’t (even taking attorney’s fees into account). The way to beat them is to get someone on your side who knows how to handle their tactics. If you’ve been injured, we would be honored to discuss your legal options in a free consultation.