When you file an insurance claim, the insurance company assigns an insurance adjuster to investigate the claim. Adjusters may handle all types of insurance claims, including car accident claims, premises liability claims, and slip and fall accidents.
Claims adjusters offer to settle claims after determining the amount of your property damage and personal injury damages. An adjuster claims to determine the fair amount the insurance company should pay for your damages. However, that is not always the case.
Before you accept a settlement offer from an insurance adjuster or independent adjuster, there are things you should know about insurance adjusters.
An Insurance Adjuster Does Not Work for You
Insurance claims adjusters work for the insurance company. Even if the company hires independent insurance adjusters to handle claims, the claims adjuster has the insurance company’s best interest in mind when processing your claim.
Therefore, you should not assume insurance claims adjusters are on your side. Even independent adjusting firms hired by an insurance provider actively work against you. Their goal is to save the insurance company money by denying your claim or undervaluing your damages.
Insurance Adjusters Are Trained and Skilled Professionals
Do not be fooled by an insurance adjuster’s attempt to engage you in casual conversation. Adjusters are trained to get you to say things that could hurt your case. They ask leading questions that get you to admit things that may not be true.
An adjuster may suggest that your claim cannot be processed unless you provide a written or recorded statement. This is not true. The adjuster merely wants to have what you say on the record so the company can use your words against you.
Beware! Most telephone conversations with insurance companies are recorded. Therefore, be careful when talking to an insurance representative by telephone.
It is best to avoid giving statements to insurance adjusters and to limit your conversations until you have spoken with a Miami personal injury attorney.
If you do speak with an insurance adjuster, do not volunteer information. Be honest and specific in your responses. If you do not know the answer to a question, do not guess or estimate.
Insurance Adjusters Use Numerous Tactics to Undervalue Your Claim
The insurance company wants to limit its liability for your injury claim. Liability is the legal responsibility to pay the damages caused by an injury or accident. Therefore, insurance claims adjusters use numerous tactics and settlement traps to avoid paying a fair amount for your accident claim.
Some of the most common insurance tactics used by adjusters include:
Shifting Blame to You
The insurance adjuster may tell you that you cannot recover the full value of your damages because you are partially to blame for the cause of the accident. They may explain that under Florida’s modified comparative fault laws, the company has the right to reduce the amount it pays you for your claim by the percentage of fault you have for causing your injury. And if your percentage of responsibility exceeds 50%, the insurance company can deny your claim altogether.
The adjuster does not tell you that the insurance company has the burden of proving allegations of contributory fault. They must prove that your conduct contributed to the cause of the accident. That is a matter for a jury to decide. Furthermore, the jury, not the insurance company, decides the percentage of fault attributable to each party.
If the claims adjuster suggests that you contributed to the cause of your injury, stop talking to the adjuster and contact a Miami accident lawyer to discuss your options.
Discounting Medical Bills
Your medical providers may discount the cost of services because of an agreement with your health insurance provider. The insurance adjuster may try to pay only the amount your health insurance company paid instead of the full amount of the medical bill. If your doctor files a medical lien against your insurance proceeds, you could be liable for the remaining balance.
Also, some adjusters may claim medical costs were unreasonable or unnecessary. They may hire a company to audit the costs. They use this “friendly” audit to undervalue the cost of your medical care.
Making Quick Settlement Offers
Signing a settlement agreement generally releases the insurance company and all other parties from all claims related to your accident or injury. In other words, you give up the right to sue anyone for damages.
Even if you discover you need additional medical treatment or have permanent impairments, you cannot demand more money. You are responsible for any future damages.
Therefore, the insurance adjuster may make a quick settlement offer before you complete your medical treatment or talk with an injury lawyer. The adjuster knows that you are out of work, and you may be willing to settle the claim to receive some money now. He will take advantage of your situation.
However, quick settlement offers are generally not in your best interest. Initial settlement offers are often much lower than the value of your claim.
Before accepting a settlement offer, you should complete medical treatment to determine if you sustained permanent impairments due to the accident. If so, you are entitled to compensation for the impairment and any future lost wages, medical bills, and other damages caused by the condition.
Alleging the Accident Did Not Cause Your Injury
Delays in medical treatment can hurt your case. The claims adjuster may argue that the accident did not cause your injury. If you had been injured, you would have sought medical treatment right away.
Also, the adjuster may use a pre-existing condition to deny your claim. For example, he may argue that a prior accident or health condition is the cause of your current symptoms. Therefore, do not allow the claims adjuster access to your medical history by signing a release of medical records.
You Have the Right to Seek Legal Advice About Your Insurance Claim
The insurance company prefers that you handle your own personal injury claim. The insurance adjuster may suggest that contacting an attorney reduces the amount of money you receive for your claim.
However, most accident victims who have legal representation receive larger settlements than individuals who represent themselves. Consulting a lawyer can help prevent an insurance claims adjuster from taking advantage of you.
Contact A Miami Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
You do not have to deal with an insurance adjuster alone. When you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case, the legal team deals with the insurance company for you. Therefore, you do not need to worry about a claims adjuster pressuring you to settle your claim or using tactics to cheat you out of the money you deserve.
Contact a Miami personal injury law office today to schedule your free consultation. It does not cost you anything to receive legal advice and learn about your options for recovering damages after an accident or injury.