The scariest part of an accident isn’t undergoing surgery or trying to pay your medical bills. Instead, the most dreaded experiences relate to handling the insurance claims process afterwards. Most accident victims seek compensation for medical bills and other losses by submitting a claim to an insurance company. The company then assigns a claims adjuster to your case. This adjuster will be the insurance company’s representative, and it’s ultimately their job to settle the claim.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we have heard some wild stories from accident victims trying to obtain fair compensation. Instead of simply filling out a few forms and receiving a check, these victims have been ignored and blamed for their own injuries. Call our firm if you were injured in an accident or are struggling to get a claim paid. Below, we identify some of the most underhanded insurance tactics, before explaining how our New York personal injury attorneys fight back.
Delaying an Investigation
A claims adjuster has many duties, one of which is to investigate the claim to determine liability. They also attempt to measure the value of your losses, which includes things like your medical bills, property damage, and lost income. They also determine how much to offer for pain and suffering.
One underhanded tactic is to delay the investigation. Accident victims find themselves waiting months for any communication from the insurance company, while bills continue to pile up in their mailbox.
You might experience:
- Unreturned phone calls
- Being put on hold for hours
- Unopened emails
- Confusing phone trees which prevent you from ever talking to a human being
- Multiple requests to fill out the same form over and over
- Lost paperwork
What is going on? Is the insurance company really this disorganized?
Actually, you are on the receiving end of an underhanded tactic. Insurance companies know you need money to cover your medical bills and pay to fix your vehicle. They are delaying for a simple reason: to increase the pressure you feel. The more financially desperate, the more likely you are to grab the first settlement offer—which we can guarantee will be low.
Performing An Unfair & Biased Investigation
Insurance adjusters are supposed to analyze an accident in an unbiased fashion. Unfortunately, another underhanded tactic is to decide ahead of time who is at fault to lower the amount of compensation they pay.
For example, an insurance adjuster might:
- Ignore dash cam or surveillance video showing what happened
- Persist in blaming you for your accident and injuries
- Overlook medical documentation showing the severity of your injuries
- Claim without any reason that you are exaggerating your pain
- Cherry-pick witness statements which support their foregone conclusion while ignoring contradictory evidence
By blaming you for your injuries, the insurance company can either eliminate paying anything or substantially reduce the amount they pay. That is unfair.
Spying on You
Some insurance companies keep investigators on their payroll who might drive by your house to see if you are outside doing yard work or playing with your kids. This person might even photograph you without your knowledge. Typically, they are trying to build a record that you aren’t as physically injured as you claim.
Of course, the fact that you are outside doesn’t mean you aren’t in pain. You might be hopped up on painkillers and shuffling out to get the mail—but the photographs paint a misleading picture.
Sifting Through Social Media Accounts
When not parking outside your house, insurance companies spy in a different way: they scour your social media accounts looking for any information to use against you.
Do you have X (Twitter), Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube? You can be sure the investigator is looking for:
- Pictures showing you outside your house
- Any posts made in which you describe the accident
- Posts about your physical injuries and how you are feeling
- Evidence that you have traveled recently, such as to a friend’s wedding in a different state
Armed with this evidence, the insurance adjuster might claim you are not feeling any pain, so you don’t deserve a fair settlement.
Refusing to Settle
When it becomes clear you deserve compensation, an insurance company must settle the claim fairly. Sadly, many also refuse to settle at all. Instead, they force you to file a lawsuit to seek compensation.
Why do they use this tactic? They know very few people can handle a lawsuit on their own. And the insurance company is hoping you never hire a lawyer to represent you. Unfortunately, too many victims sit on their rights and never get a lawsuit filed. They lose out on meaningful compensation which will help them move forward.
How We Fight Back
The first step to take is to hire an experienced New York personal injury lawyer to represent you. Insurance companies are desperately hoping they never sit across from our firm because they know we can hold their feet to the fire and force them to treat you with respect.
Here’s how we counter these shady insurance tactics:
- Thoroughly review all insurance policies to see which ones apply to the accident.
- Gather evidence in support of your claim—witness statements, medical records, and photographs. We don’t simply wait around for an insurance adjuster to do this work.
- Fill out all forms for you, so they are submitted correctly the first time.
- Answer any questions the insurance company has about your injuries, medical bills, or disability.
- Remind insurance adjusters of their duties under New York’s “bad faith” insurance laws to perform an adequate investigation in a timely manner.
- Sue an insurance company that engages in bad faith practices, which increases the amount of compensation our clients can receive.
- Marshal evidence in support of your claim, even evidence in the insurance company hopes remains buried.
- Negotiate aggressively to increase the amount of compensation the insurance company will pay.
- File a lawsuit when necessary to secure compensation for your accident.
Contact Powers & Santola, LLP
No one should struggle for years to get compensation from an accident. Call our firm today to schedule a free consultation.