Bad Faith: Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters are not your friends. They work for the insurance company, and they are 100% focused on paying you as little money as possible for your injuries. The investigator or adjuster from the other side's insurance company may be very pleasant, appear to be concerned about your well being, and even try to be your friend. In "real life" he or she may be a wonderful person, coach the local little league team, and be active in community associations. But always remember that his or her job is to protect the insurance company, to find a reason NOT to pay you, or if they must, to make sure you receive as little as the insurance company can possibly get away with paying, and ideally, to try to "make the matter go away." Most adjusters are taught that the best way to making cases go away is to control the claimant - YOU! They do this by being friendly, or by being mean, depending on what they think will work best on a given individual.
The investigator or adjuster may try to get you to minimize the nature and extent of the pain, the impact of any permanent injury, or to accept full or partial responsibility for the accident when it was not your fault ("I guess you should have paid more attention…"). In addition, they may tell you how difficult it would be to recover more for your injuries ("If I were you I'd accept this. You'll never get more and the courts have a 3 year back-up…"), and try to discourage you from hiring a lawyer ("By the time you pay a lawyer you'll end up with no more than if you just take this today..."). NONSENSE! Those are classic insurance adjuster tricks that should be ignored.
The following are some additional references an adjuster may make to attempt to deny or reduce your claim:
- You weren't wearing your seatbelt
- Defects in your car caused the accident
- You did not receive treatment until weeks after the accident
- Medical records show that you exaggerated the injury
- Medical records show that you had the condition before the accident
- No police report and no witnesses
- No request for medical care at the scene of the accident
- You missed a lot of work time before the accident
- Minor damage was done to your vehicle
- No complaint of pain at the scene of the accident
- You or some other person was partly responsible for the accident.
Insurance companies' claims adjusters are professional negotiators, with extensive experience in intimidation, "hassling," and using every psychological technique to maneuver a claimant into settling for the lowest possible amount, including discouraging people from using the professional services of a lawyer. Never give an oral statement to the other side's insurance company. If you do, you will regret it. Claims adjusters are hired because they "sound good" over the telephone and they are extremely well trained by company lawyers to ask questions in a manner designed to hurt you and help them. Claims adjusters know that if they can keep a claimant negotiating, there is a high probability of a successful settlement in favor of the insurance company. You cannot beat experts at their own game. Do not try it.
Just because an insurance adjuster calls and talks does not mean you have to respond. Do not get into a discussion, no matter how tempted you may be to do so. Use the occasion to listen and when it's over say: "I will think about it and get back to you." You should always contact an attorney who is experienced in negotiating settlements with insurance companies to evaluate your case prior to any communication with the other side's insurance company.