If you have been seriously injured in an 18-wheeler accident or if you have lost a family member due to a truck driver’s negligence, there’s a good chance that you will receive a call from an adjuster for the insurance company covering the trucking company and driver.
Insurance adjusters are trained to take steps to reduce or eliminate financial exposure for their employer- the insurance company. Most of the time, on very serious injury or wrongful death cases, the game plan includes contacting you before you’ve had a chance to retain an attorney.
The more serious the case that more likely that the insurance adjuster will be extremely friendly and seek to “win you over” by being nice. While they appear to be on your side, the truth is that they are seeking to pay as little money as possible and the real job is to protect the financial interests of the insurance company.
Here are a few common tricks used by insurance companies that write commercial policies for trucking companies:
1. Leading you to believe early on that they will be fair with you when they adjust the claim.
Do not make the mistake that many people make and assume that the insurance adjuster will be fair on your case. Many times the adjuster will “accept responsibility” and the unsuspecting victim does not learn that that does not mean full and fair compensation until damage has been done to the case.
In fact, the first time the unsuspecting victim learns that they have been bamboozled is when the insurance company makes their offer for compensation.
2. Inferring that you do not need to contact an attorney to help you.
One of the common tricks of the trade for adjusters is to mention that you do not probably need to hire an attorney because you will have to pay a percentage to the attorney. There is a reason why the insurance company does not want you to retain an attorney. Because they will have to pay full and fair value if you retain an experienced attorney.
Injury victims who are not experienced in the personal injury arena are not equipped to value their claims and the more serious the accident the more the family needs the right attorney.
3. Asking for a recorded statement.
Adjusters receive training in how to take a recorded statement from a personal injury victim and they usually seek to do so prior to the victim speaking with an attorney. Leading questions are frequently asked with the goal of finding a defense or reason to deny the claim.
While insurance companies suggest that they only need to find out the facts, the real intention of a statement is to defend the claim. Some adjusters use leading or loaded questions that can be used against you and easily and effectively taken out of context.
4. Asking for a release of medical information that covers your entire lifetime.
Insurance companies will routinely asked for authorization for release of medical records to be signed by you and used by them. Unfortunately, there’s no limit to the medical information that they can obtain should you provide the release. Such an intrusive tactic is usually sold under the guise of just getting the appropriate medical records from the accident.
5. Apportioning fault and seeking to limit the reimbursement for medical expenses.
It is rare when an adjuster does not seek to reduce the amount of medical expenses actually incurred by the victim. Generally, the adjuster uses the reasoning that the amount was excessive or the treatment was too long or unnecessary. This does little to advance the claim on behalf of personal injury victim.
In other cases, the adjuster will take a fact from the accident scenario and use it to attempt to suggest that the truck driver a trucking company is not wholly responsible for your damages.
They will try to pin the tail (of responsibility) on anyone other than their driver and most the time, attempt to fault you or the driver of the vehicle you were in by suggesting that was partly their fault.