Being in a car accident is stressful enough, but there is no break in that stress when dealing with insurance adjusters. You are quickly going to discover these six unfair tactics adjusters use if you have recently been in a car accident in Gwinnett County.
1. Talking You Out of Using an Attorney to Settle Your Claim
Insurance adjusters will often suggest you do not need a lawyer because, “we can just work this out together.” Realize there is no “we” in this situation — the insurance adjuster is not your friend and will not make sure you receive fair compensation. Their job is to pay as little as possible.
2. Making You Sign a Medical Release Form
The first thing to realize is the other driver’s insurance company is not likely to pay anything until you are willing to settle your case. Signing a medical release or any other insurance company document is not likely to change that. An insurance company is eventually entitled to review records of any medical treatment you want reimbursed. In our experience, however, most medical release forms are written in such a way that they give the insurance company access to all of your medical records — even records that are unrelated to your accident injuries. Adjusters use this to poke around your medical history to try to find pre-existing or prior injuries to blame everything on.
Make no mistake; they are trying to use your records against you, not to help you. Maintaining control of your medical records is one of the keys to your case. We get and review all our clients’ records before the insurance company ever sees them. That way, we know what is there and how to argue around any unfavorable facts.
3. Making You Give a Recorded Statement
Do not feel pressured to give a recorded statement. Not only is there usually no benefit to giving a recorded statement to an insurance company on your own but there is also a serious risk involved with doing so. Insurance adjusters are professionals trained to take recorded statements they can later use against you. They ask specific questions designed to get damaging admissions from you to reduce the value of your personal injury claim.
If an adjuster calls you after a car accident, we recommend that you politely tell him that you will be happy to speak to him after you speak to your attorney. Our firm protects our clients from the danger of recorded statements by only allowing the adjuster to take the statement only when an attorney is present. The only time you may have to give a recorded statement in Georgia is when it is your own insurance company requesting it.
4. Threatening Not to Pay for Certain Types of Treatment
Sometimes, when adjusters find out what type of medical treatment you are getting, they tell you they will not pay for or reimburse you for it.
Under Georgia law, the at-fault driver (or his or her insurance company) is responsible for paying all “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses caused by the car accident.
Your doctors and other medical providers, not insurance adjusters, decide what constitutes “reasonable and necessary” medical treatment.
Car accident victims should seek medical treatment until they are healed or a doctor tells them that their condition has healed as much as it will (this is often referred to as the patient achieving “maximum medical improvement”). The key to fighting this tactic is to get proper referrals and have your doctors offer medical support for the treatment they are recommending.
5. Offering to Write a Check and Continue Paying Your Medical Bills
Adjusters will try to convince you to quickly settle your personal injury claim by throwing out a settlement figure that — at first glance — seems fair at the moment. However, there are many reasons this is a bad idea.
First, the offer is usually very low and will not cover everything you think it will.
Second, we have had many clients come to us who agreed to this offer only to have the adjuster stop paying their medical bills down the road without warning.
Finally, they often do not mention that you may not be entitled to keep all of the money. Many insurance policies, such as health insurance, auto insurance “medical payment coverage,” or short-term disability insurance, require repayment if the accident victim reaches a settlement with the negligent driver or his or her insurance company.
This obligation, known as “subrogation,” can leave a car accident victim with little to nothing after a settlement. There are strong laws in Georgia that can protect you from having to pay back these companies. We know the law and how to work it. We will work to reduce your subrogation obligations whenever possible before you reach a settlement.
NOTE: Once you accept a settlement and sign a release, which you must do to receive your settlement, you cannot go back and attempt to get your claim’s true value.
6. Misrepresenting Insurance Policy Benefits
Sometimes adjusters will misrepresent the amount of coverage available in your claim or not even tell you certain types of coverage exist and how to use them. Georgia is a disclosure state, which means if you send the at-fault driver’s insurance company an affidavit that complies with Georgia law, they must tell you in writing what types and amounts of coverage the policyholder has.
How can I get help dealing with insurance adjusters?
Dealing with adjusters is complicated; David Brauns and the Brauns Law team will help you navigate the claims process. Contact us at 404-418-8244 so we can get started on your case today.