Common Tactics Used by Insurance Companies in Accident Cases
If you are involved in a car accident in Virginia, you have a couple of different options for recovering compensation. First, because Virginia is an “at-fault” state, also known as a tort liability state, you maintain the right to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. (You could also file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver.) You also have the option of filing a claim against your own insurance policy if you have certain coverage types, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, or medical expenses and loss of income benefits coverage. But just because you file a claim does not mean that your claim will be paid. Indeed, claims are often denied, or insurance companies offer claimants less than they deserve. One of the most important roles of the insurance adjuster assigned to your case is to save the insurance company money. There are many common tactics used by insurance companies in car accident cases – here are a few of them of which you should be aware–
Investigating You It is definitely the responsibility of an insurance company to perform an investigation into the accident and the injuries that a claimant purports to have – this is certainly reasonable. But as a claim investigation unfolds, one tactic that insurance companies will use to lowball settlement offers, or deny claims altogether, is to investigate the claimants themselves. If it’s a cut-and-dry case and it’s obvious their client was negligent, they are less likely to investigate you. The same is true if your injuries are minor and, therefore, less expensive. Some insurance companies will always do a cursory check on accident victims, while others only want to exert the effort if there are red flags. Any investigation is likely to begin with a social media check. Checking a victim’s social media presence is incredibly easy and costs very little. There are many ways your social media can be used against you in an accident claim. In fact, an insurance adjuster may add you on social media and browse through your posts, or even travel to your home–or hire a detective to do so–to see what you’re up to. For example, if you’ve claimed a broken leg but then are seen performing yard work, or if you claim to have a traumatic brain injury but then post a picture of yourself playing the piano, the insurance company will then have ammunition against you to undermine your claim and state that you are exaggerating your injuries, or that you are “clearly” fully healed. For this reason, be careful about what you do when a claim is pending. And stay off of social media.
More Extensive Injury Investigations More in-depth injury investigations are typically reserved for cases that have lots of red flags or that are likely to be extremely expensive. This is why it’s so important to keep your social media locked down after an accident. Even an innocent post might make the insurance adjuster think you’re engaging in insurance fraud. Do not accept new friend requests, make sure your account can’t be viewed by non-friends, and don’t let people tag you in posts without your approval. An injury investigation might involve a private investigator. If you are being followed by a private investigator, you probably won’t know about it. If you do, they didn’t hire a very good private investigator. The investigator might follow your car around to see how you spend your time and where you go. They will try to take pictures and video of any activity that goes against your injury claim.
Settling Your Claim Quickly Consider a situation in which you’ve been in a serious accident and you are looking at significant losses, both financially and otherwise. When this is the case, receiving a settlement offer from the insurance company can feel like a huge comfort and relief. But be careful – the insurance company may be offering you a quick settlement hoping that those exact emotions–comfort, relief, and wanting to have the process over with–will push you into accepting it. Typically, first-time settlement offers, as well as quick settlement offers, are lowballed. While it can feel difficult to turn down a settlement, especially when you desperately need the cash, doing so is typically within your best interests.
They Make You Think They’re You’re Friend Perhaps the most classic tactic used by an insurance adjuster when assigned to a claim is to convince the claimant that the adjuster is the claimant’s friend. This may be accomplished by acting very friendly, expressing concern, and even making statements about the company’s liability. But don’t be fooled – remember, the primary objective of an insurance adjuster is to save the insurance company money. If the adjuster is being friendly, it’s probably to catch you in something that can then be used against you, such as convincing you to give a recorded statement where you make a specific claim about how fast you were traveling or some error that you committed, pinning liability on your shoulders.
Telling You You Don’t Need a Lawyer If an insurance adjuster ever tells you that you don’t need an attorney, this is a sure sign that just the opposite is true. Lawyers are even valuable in accident claims involving smaller amounts of money, and they are essential in cases of severe injuries and catastrophic losses.
Call Our Virginia Auto Accident Lawyers Today Being involved in a serious accident is shocking and emotional; being a victim of an insurance adjuster’s unscrupulous tactics can be the icing on the cake that pushes you over the edge in terms of feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. At the law office of the Pack Law Group, our Virginia auto accident lawyers understand what you’re going through. When you call our law firm, we will provide you with aggressive legal support and representation and we will always advocate for your best interests. To learn more about our legal services, please reach out to us today to request a free consultation. You can reach us at 540-586-7225, in person, or online.