Insurance Adjuster

The insurance company is your friend, at least as long as you’re paying premiums. Once you suffer an injury and file a claim, however, the insurance company becomes your adversary. The insurance adjuster represents the insurance company’s interests, not yours, no matter how charming they might be. So don’t be fooled.

How the Insurance Adjuster ‘Adjusts’ Your Claim

Insurance Adjusters Are Expert Negotiators

So, how does an insurance adjuster ‘adjust’ your claim? They will adjust it to zero if possible. Your job is to prevent them from getting away with it. The more they get away with, the better the company’s balance sheet looks.

Insurance Adjusters Are Expert Negotiators

Watch out—many insurance adjusters have years of experience negotiating insurance claims with people just like you. That probably leaves you at a significant negotiating disadvantage unless you hire a lawyer.

Tactics You Need to Watch Out For

Insurance company tactics number in the hundreds. The following are explanations of some of the most common ’black hat’ tactics designed to reduce or eliminate your compensation.

Contacting You With a Settlement Offer While You’re Still in the Hospital or at Home Recovering

It’s not hard to imagine accepting a low settlement offer while you’re in pain, debt is piling up, you’re out of work, and you’re woozy from medication. Sometimes, insurance adjusters will choose this moment to make an incredibly low settlement offer, hoping that you won’t challenge it later (you can, by the way).

Claiming Contributory Fault

Maryland’s contributory fault rule is nothing short of draconian. If the opposing party can prove that you were even 1% at fault for the accident, you will receive nothing. Only a few other states apply this harsh rule. You can bet that the insurance company will try to take advantage of it.

A ‘Take It or Leave It’ Offer With an Arbitrary Deadline for Acceptance

“$!0,000, take it or leave it. You have until a week from today to make up your mind.”  Don’t be fooled. The insurance company doesn’t get to set the deadline; the statute of limitations does. Most of the time, the deadline is three years after the date of your injury.

Requesting Unlimited Access to Your Medical Records

Do not give the insurance company a blanket medical authorization-–and let your lawyer see any insurance document before you design it. If not, the insurance company is likely to go on a ‘fishing expedition’ looking for an old back injury or some other cause for your current injury (other than the accident).

Insurance companies refer to this as a “pre-existing injury.” It is a challenge to the causation element of your personal injury claim.

Asking You to Give a Recorded Statement

Lawyers universally advise against giving the insurance company a recorded statement. They will ask you trick questions and then use your answers against you.

An Arbitrary Denial of Liability

‘Just say no’ is a tactic that some insurance companies try to pull, especially if you don’t have a lawyer. Arbitrarily denying your claim is almost daring you to sue, not only for your personal injury claim but also for bad faith in your insurance (see below).

Nickel and Diming You to Death

An insurance company can challenge your medical and out-of-pocket expenses. They don’t have to pay them unless they are ‘reasonable and necessary.’ If they challenge your expenses too often, they are probably acting unreasonably.

The Lawsuit Option

If the insurance adjuster’s tactics get too much for you, filing a lawsuit is always an option. 

The main reasons for filing a lawsuit when an at-fault party refuses to make a fair settlement offer are:

  • To beat the statute of limitations deadline 
  • To gain access to the pretrial discovery process, which might yield a bonanza of valuable evidence

Filing a lawsuit often does not lead to a trial. Instead, you can settle after the lawsuit filing date but before the trial date. 

Bad Faith Insurance Claims

A bad faith insurance claim is a separate claim that you can file against the insurance company itself. An insurance company acts in ‘bad faith’ when it treats you deceitfully or tries to bully you, for example. You can demand extra compensation for this kind of treatment. Bad faith insurance claims can be difficult to win. If you do manage to establish liability, however, it is possible to win damages for intangible losses such as emotional distress.

An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Won’t Fall for Any Insurance Adjuster Tricks

If your claim is of trivial economic value, you may be able to face an insurance adjuster with little to no problem. If its value is substantial, however, know this much-–insurance adjusters are far less likely to play games with you if you have a lawyer than if you don’t. Even more importantly, if you hire one of our WGK Personal Injury Lawyers, you don’t have to pay legal fees unless you win. Contact an experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer at (410) 837-2144 for a free consultation.