Auto accidents in San Diego are on the rise. So is the number of accident victims who are filing auto accident claims.
You may be thankful that you had the foresight to get excellent insurance coverage. Even seemingly minor injuries can result in extensive medical bills, a replacement for your vehicle, and time off from work to heal. Too many accident victims learn the hard way that the insurance company isn’t the friend that they promised to be. If you are dealing with the other driver’s insurance company, they can make matters even more difficult.
The laws affecting car accidents differ by state but they are always complex. Considering that most people don’t even understand their auto insurance policies, it isn’t surprising that the average driver has no idea of their rights following an accident.
The insurance companies understand the laws. Most have legal representation to guide them every step of the way. They are businesses that profit when they avoid paying your claim. They aren’t worried about how you will pay your medical bills or compensate for missed wages. Their primary goal is to pay out as little as possible. They don’t celebrate when they help someone like you pay their mounting medical bills. They celebrate when they find a way to keep from paying auto accident claims at all. These are some of the most common tactics insurance companies use:
Asking for a Recorded Statement
Most people who are injured in an auto accident feel shocked and confused from the start. It’s the first time they have ever faced a situation of this kind. Insurance companies may try to take advantage of their initial confusion and catch them off-guard. If a company representative calls you and asks for a recorded statement, don’t give them any information to work with. You are better off not to take the call at all or to refer them to your attorney. Even a simple response to “How are you?” can provide them with evidence that could cost you your claim. They are not above misconstruing a vague response like “I’m okay” as an admission to good health.
Contacting You Before You Have Time to Get an Attorney
Don’t give the insurance company the chance to offer you “guidance” or to get information from you before you have an attorney. An auto accident attorney knows the law and your rights. They will look out for your interests when the insurance company will not.
Sometimes an insurance adjuster will contact you about your injuries and advise you not to get an attorney. History has proven repeatedly that people who have legal representation to file their auto accident claims come out with larger settlements than those who don’t.
The at-fault driver is responsible for paying your claim. Often, they will suggest that the accident was your fault. If there is no room for doubt about the other driver’s guilt, they may claim that you are at least partially to blame. California is a Pure Comparative Negligence state. This means that the injured party who is the least at fault can still recover compensation. An auto accident attorney can help you understand your options for recovery even if the court decides you share in the fault.
Delay, Delay, Delay
Everything has a time limit, including the time it takes you to file a claim. Once you do, the insurance company has the obligation to process your claim in a timely manner. Some companies will use every excuse they can come up with to delay processing your claim.
Why? Because after a number of excuses, some people just give up. The adjuster can give you a broad range of excuses that sound believable enough. Maybe certain aspects of the accident are still under investigation. They may claim that there is a holdup of the paperwork. Any excuse will do.
An experienced auto accident attorney knows when the insurance adjuster is just buying time. He will know how to push the process forward and ensure that you never give up on a valid accident claim.
Claiming You Weren’t Seriously Injured
There are many types of injuries you can receive during an accident but some are much more common. Those that occur to soft tissue are especially difficult to prove. When a person suffers a whiplash injury, the impact of the crash stretches the muscles and ligaments in the neck. The same type of injury can happen in other areas. Mid- and lower- back injuries often result from car accidents. More severe back injuries can occur as well.
It is difficult to prove injuries that aren’t visible and which don’t appear on x-rays. The insurance company may claim that you faked your injury to collect. This is why it is so important to talk with an auto accident attorney early on.
Your attorney knows the law and the types of medical evidence that you need to prove your case. He will work with you to document your medical tests and treatments so that the insurance company cannot have your claim dismissed. It is up to you to prove your injuries and you can expect them to put you to the test.
Claim the Accident Didn’t Cause Your Injury
Even if you are able to prove that you really have an injury, the insurance company may claim it was “pre-existing.” Even if you had a pre-existing condition, the accident may have made it more severe. It can also cause a different injury in the same area. You need an experienced accident attorney who understands this tactic and who has gotten results for previous clients in the situation.
Make a Lowball Offer
When the insurance company makes an offer, don’t accept it as an act of good faith. There is a good chance that the amount they offer you is a fraction of the amount you need and have a right to. Never accept an offer from the insurance company.
This tactic is sometimes used after a number of delay tactics. Insurance companies may drag out processing auto accident claims and then make a low offer. They hope that the person has given up on getting the full amount of the claim. Sometimes, they don’t know what the value of their claim should be.
An auto accident attorney knows how much your settlement should be. A good attorney knows how to negotiate with the insurance company to get you the largest possible settlement.
Watching Your Every Move
Most of us have seen TV shows where someone follows a supposed accident victim around to prove they aren’t really hurt. Fraudulent claims are not as common as these shows would have you believe. Even so, insurance companies will often follow the accident victim around and film them to try and catch them “in the act.”
The insurance company may hire a detective to follow you wherever you go. Their goal is to obtain video of you doing something your injury would prevent. They may try to use the surveillance to prove that your injury is not as severe as you claimed or that it has not had the impact on your life as you claimed.
In many cases, the insurance company’s surveillance does not disprove the claimant’s case. Once you break the video down and pay attention to every detail, it may even prove that the insurance company obtained it as a tactic to discredit the claimant.
The Importance of Winning Auto Accident Claims
An auto accident can cause life-changing injuries that may never go away. Medical bills may continue to grow due to needs for treatment, therapy, and special medical equipment. You may lose interest in doing things you used to love. The compensation you get from your accident claim may be the only source of income that you have for the rest of your life.
Some of the tactics used by insurance companies are used to slow down the claims process. This presents an immediate challenge to the accident victim who needs money to pay medical bills immediately. Nothing is more important than getting the medical treatment you need after getting an injury. Although you have two years to file auto accident claims in California, it is important to get an auto accident attorney soon after the accident. Your attorney can guide you on what steps to take to secure your claim. He can also help you find options to get the medical care you need.
No one who is injured in an auto accident should try to handle their claim on their own. This is especially true when it comes to negotiating with insurance companies. As you can see, they use a variety of tactics to keep you from getting the compensation you need and deserve.
You never have to pay a fee unless we win your case. If you have an injury due to an auto accident, contact Batta Fulkerson today. We have helped many of our clients get the largest possible settlement from their auto accident claims. Let us help you handle the insurance companies, too.