Most of the time, successful personal injury claimants get their compensation from an insurance company, not the at-fault party. The larger the claim is, the less likely it is that the at-fault party will have the money to pay the claim anyway. Insurance companies do not give away their money easily, however. Expect resistance, as you will certainly get it.
When negotiating with an insurance company, always remember that they are for-profit businesses, not “good neighbors.” Every dime they pay out in compensation is a dime less profit they earn.
For that reason, insurance adjusters are full of “dirty tricks” that they will use to deny your claim or at least minimize its value. Following are some examples of common insurance company dirty tricks.
Offering a woefully inadequate first offer is standard practice among insurance companies. The hope is that you will be so desperate for money (to pay medical bills, for example) that you will take $10,000 now rather than wait six months to receive the $150,000 you deserve. Never accept an insurance company’s first offer.
A skilled personal injury lawyer will know how to deal with your medical bills and other damages without accepting an inadequate settlement offer. One way is to negotiate a medical lien using your future personal injury compensation as collateral.
Doctors and hospitals know that personal injury lawyers win the great majority of the cases they accept. This gives personal injury lawyers the leverage to negotiate a lien that you can pay off whenever you receive your compensation.
DO NOT talk about your case on social media. Also, do not upload any photos, even old photos, showing you enjoying yourself or engaging in activities that might lead an insurance company to question the severity of your injuries. The insurance company is likely monitoring your social media accounts, and they can use them as evidence in court. Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know.
If your claim is large enough, the insurance company might even hire a private detective to follow you around.
The insurance company might ask you to give a recorded statement. Never, ever fall for this trick, at least unless your lawyer is right by your side when you give the statement. The insurance company will ask you trick questions designed to damage your credibility and undermine your claim.
Once you get a lawyer, tell the insurance company to direct all further communication to your lawyer, not you.
Did you suffer a back injury years ago? Did the accident worsen your injury and increase your pain? You should be able to collect compensation for that. The insurance company, however, might claim that your current pain is 100% caused by your old injury, not your recent accident.
They might further claim that you are just trying to use your accident as an excuse to get the insurance company to pay for your old injury.
“Stonewalling” means ignoring your requests for compensation or subjecting your claim to endless delays for frivolous reasons. Sometimes the purpose of these delays is to lull you into missing the statute of limitations, which in Texas is usually two years from the date of your injury (certain exceptions apply).
If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, your claim will die immediately. You won’t even be able to negotiate a settlement. Without the ability to negotiate your claim in court, you have zero bargaining power.
Of course, you will have to provide some documentation to support your claim. Will you even realize it when these requests become excessive? Your lawyer certainly will. Excessive requirements for documentation are just another insurance company stonewalling tactic.
The insurance company will almost certainly claim that the accident was at least partly your fault. If they can make this accusation stick, Texas’s contributory fault rules kick in. If you were
51% or more at fault, you will receive no compensation at all. If you were 50% or less at fault, you will lose that exact percentage of your damages.
If, for example, a court rules that you were 30% at fault, you will lose 30% of your compensation. This is a good way for an insurance company to chip away at their liability.
Words can be tricky, and sometimes insurance companies deliberately word insurance contracts in a way that allows them to assert coverage limitations that you didn’t expect. The rule in law, however, is that a court will interpret any ambiguity in a contract in a manner that disfavors the party who drafted it (in this case, the insurance company).
A lawyer can help you wade through even the densest legalese.
Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible losses. How do you value such nebulous claims? Is your pain and suffering worth $1,000 or $100,000? You can bet what the insurance company will say.
A good personal lawyer knows how to fight back to get you every penny of non-economic damages that you deserve.
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Texas law requires insurance companies to deal with you honestly and in good faith. If they don’t, you can sue them for insurance bad faith. If you win, you win not only your original claim, but also the additional claim of insurance bad faith. You might even win attorney’s fees. This could result in a financial windfall for you.
Bad faith insurance claims are difficult to win without a lawyer. In fact, they can be difficult to win even with a lawyer. However, the threat of such a lawsuit, especially if you have a lawyer, is likely to deter a dishonest insurance company from trying to pull any more tricks on you.
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The most effective insurance company dirty trick is to convince you that you don’t need the help of a lawyer. The reason for this is that a lawyer can help you avoid or fight back against any “dirty trick” except your refusal to hire a lawyer.
In fact, the mere fact that you have hired an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer is likely to deter an insurance company from even trying any tricks on you. Contact FVF Law to schedule a free consultation or call us a (512) 982-9328
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