The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 2.07 million injuries in car accidents in 2014. Unfortunately, when victims are injured in car accidents, using insurance to pay for medical bills and property damages can become complicated. Insurance companies often hope to pay out nothing or as little as possible—and they use tactics like recordings, written statements, and strategic questioning to settle quickly or discredit legitimate injury claims.
Speaking With an Adjuster Can Hurt Your Case
Virginia is a fault state and operates under a pure comparative negligence rule—so if you are even 1% responsible for your own car accident, your part in causing the accident renders you ineligible for compensation from the other's drivers insurance company. Insurance adjusters will attempt to use this to their advantage by:
- Manipulating you. Insurance representatives are trained to speak in such a way that makes injury victims feel secure. They are polite, seem well intentioned, ask all the right questions, and are skilled at getting victims to talk about their injuries and accidents. Adjusters may call at strange hours or word questions in a confusing manner to trip up accident victims.
- Rushing you. Reaching a low settlement is important to insurance adjusters. To accomplish this, they will pressure victims, play on their emotions, or appeal to their financial stresses, attempting to convince them that they need to take a settlement as soon as possible—without knowing the full extent of their injuries and what they’ll need for future medical costs. Additionally, an adjuster can rush victims to sign statements or documents so he can use those words later against the claim. Finally, he might pressure an injury victim to use only company-approved physicians or auto mechanics who work closely with the insurance companies.
- Recording you. Beware of any communications with insurance adjusters. Adjusters will ask permission to record phone calls and conversations with you—and it’s important to know that it’s your right to decline consent. This is because insurance reps conduct surveillance in an attempt to catch any inaccuracies, inconsistencies, or missteps in a victim’s story to prove partial fault. They will call a victim as soon as they can after a car accident occurs so the injured person doesn’t have time to process or call a lawyer—all in the hopes of using her own words against her during the claims process. Additionally, insurance companies will record your movements, including distant video recordings of your daily activities and social media investigation.
Know Your Rights Before an Adjuster Calls
Because speaking with an insurance adjuster might seem safe at first, you should know that you have certain rights. When speaking with a representative from the insurance company, remember:
- You do not have to speak with an adjuster. It is your right to politely decline to speak with the representative and refer her to your attorney.
- You can receive medical attention or auto maintenance from any provider you choose. Because insurance companies work closely with different providers, it’s important you remain in charge of your own medical treatment and damage repair choices.
- You do not have to give a statement. An adjuster will try to convince you that the company needs your side of the story to proceed with the claim. Again, you must politely refer her to your legal counsel.
Call an Experienced Lawyer
If you’re feeling confused and worried about receiving fair compensation after your car accident, we are here for you. The experienced legal team at Tavss Fletcher has been serving Virginia car accident victims for over 30 years. Reach out to us about your case by filling out the online contact form today.