Be aware the insurance claims adjuster has one goal in mind in dealing with your injury claim -- settle it for as little as possible. Adjusters receive extensive training on how to save the company money. Learn some things adjusters do to minimize what they will pay on your claim.
One of the first steps every insurance adjuster considers is whether they can deny your claim. They look for any argument their insured was not at fault and that your were entirely at fault or that the claim did not happen as you have described.
Get the Victim to Give a Recorded Statement
Insurance adjusters are trained to get a recorded statement of the victim as soon as possible after an accident. They call at the earliest opportunity and try to put you at ease. Their goal is to obtain harmful admissions as to how the accident occurred, have you minimize any complaints of injury and the need for medical care. Lawyers see the harmful effects of such recorded statements. For instance, it is not uncommon for someone injured in an accident to downplay their pain complaints or to mistakenly agree with the adjuster's description of how the accident might have happened.Victims often do not obtain medical attention for days after being injured. Often, the adjuster is able to obtain a recorded statement in which the person admits they feel pretty good and don't believe they will need to see a doctor. If their condition worsens, requiring extensive medical treatment, later they must explain why they made such an earlier admission, making it appear they changed their story.
Obtaining a Signed Medical Authorization
The adjuster would love to have you sign, a general medical authorization statement giving them the authority to request medical records from any medical provider you may have ever seen. They have access to medical claims data bases which gives them limited information about medical care you may have had in the past. The adjuster has no reason to have any medical records on you unless, and until a claim is actually made seeking compensation for injuries received in an acccident. At the appropriate time, once a claim is made, all relevant medical records will be provided to them by your lawyer. There is no reason for an insurance company to have your medical records before you make a claim.
Quick Settlement With a Full Release
A very common tactic is to contact you quickly after an accident and offer a small amount of money to settle a potential claim. This is done before you may have ever visited a doctor or realized the need for medical attention. Many serious injuries are not always apparent immediately after an accident. Accepting a sum of money and providing a legally binding release drafted by the insurance company may serve as a complete bar against any further recovery, even if your injury turns out to be far worse than you thought when you accepted the money.
Convincing You the Adjuster Will Treat You Fairly and a Lawyer Will Only Cost You Money
Lawyers regularly deal with clients who have been contacted by adjusters assuring them their claim will be fairly evaluated. Injured victims are actually encouraged not to contact a lawyer. When this occurs, it is done for only one reason, to save the insurance company money. They understand claims settle for larger amounts to clients represented by a lawyer. They know that you probably have never attempted to place a value on an injury, or have little or no experience negotiating on an injury claim, and have no knowledge of settlements and verdicts obtained for similar injuries. Dealing with the adjuster without the assistance of a lawyer is not a level playing field and they know it.
You must assume you will be under surveillance if you have suffered a significant injury. Adjusters hire investigators to photograph injury victims in the hopes of observing them do anything which may appear to be inconsistent with injuries and resulting limitations they are claiming from an accident. When asked about the effect of their injury, many accident victims, unaware they have been under surveillance, are not careful in describing their actual limitations. They often make statements which appear to be in conflict with what may be revealed on a surveillance photograph.