8 Common Mistakes That Can Cost You Thousands Of Dollars When Dealing With Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters are evaluated by their superiors based upon how low they can settle claims. Their number one objective is to try to settle the claim before the injured person has contacted a lawyer. They know that if they can keep the injured person away from a lawyer, they can induce the party into making one or more serious mistakes, as described below, which will cost them thousands of dollars in settlement. As a result, the adjuster will be handsomely rewarded by his employer.
Mistake # 1: Giving written or recorded statements to insurance adjusters. This is the most frequently occurring mistake that I see in my practice and the results are devastating. Adjusters are trained in the art of asking questions that will severely damage one’s case. These adjusters are highly skilled and literally take hundreds of statements per year. The chances that someone will make a statement that will adversely affect the value of their case are extremely high. Therefore, never give insurance adjusters written or recorded statements.
Mistake #2: Signing medical releases. As soon as you are contacted by an adjuster, he will ask you to sign a medical release. You will undoubtedly believe that he will only obtain records that are related to your accident. Nothing could be further from the truth. These authorizations are routinely used to obtain a person’s entire medical file, often times dating back to childhood. Frequently, there may be things that are in your medical records that could adversely affect your case (which the adjuster should never have access to). Therefore, never sign a medical authorization.
Mistake #3: Signing a release to obtain employment records. Like medical releases, releases for employment information are extremely broad. They seek much more than just the information regarding your time off as a result of your injuries. They will seek information regarding performance reviews, health questionnaires, workers compensation, pension information and other confidential documents that have nothing to do with your claim. Accordingly, never sign a release for employment information.
Mistake #4: Failure to take into account liens. More often than not there are liens that will apply to your claim that the adjuster will not tell you about. The case will be settled and you will have to pay these liens out of your settlement leaving you with much less than you anticipated or the adjuster led you to believe. Most health insurance companies, Medi-Care, Medi-Cal, union benefit plans and others often have legal rights to recover benefits from your settlement. Unless you are aware of these liens, their amounts, and your rights to reduce such liens, you will end up netting much less out of your settlement than you had anticipated. Therefore, always know the status and amount of all lien holders before settling a claim.
Mistake #5: Letting the insurance company benefit from the fact that you have other insurance. Frequently the adjuster will say that you are not entitled to reimbursement of your medical bills since they were covered by your private insurance. This is flat out wrong under California law. Thousands of dollars can be lost in settlement value if you claim only the deductible or co-pays that you paid out. Therefore, one should always be reimbursed the full amount of his medical bills regardless if they have been paid by insurance.
Mistake #6: Letting the insurance company benefit from the fact that you have received sick pay or disability benefits. When one has missed work as a result of being injured by another, he is entitled to be reimbursed for his time off work and for loss of any fringe benefits. Adjusters like to avoid reimbursing one for lost benefits because he has received sick pay or other disability benefits. Again, this is contrary to well accepted California law. Therefore, never believe an insurance adjuster who says you’re not entitled to reimbursement for your time off simply because you received sick pay or other disability benefits.
Mistake #7: Waiting until the last minute to resolve the claim. All claims have time deadlines. If the claims are not resolved within the appropriate time deadlines and a lawsuit filed, the claim will be barred by law. If you wait until the last minute to resolve your case, the insurance company has a huge advantage that it will press. You will receive low-ball offers. Since your only option at this point is to file a lawsuit, you may well accept an unfair offer, simply to avoid going to court. Therefore, always be aware of the appropriate time deadlines for your case so they will not be used against you.
Mistake #8: Letting the insurance adjuster make the initial offer. The injured party should always make the initial demand. Never rely upon the insurance adjuster’s evaluation. Remember, they are evaluated based upon how low they can settle their claims. You should demand reimbursement for all of your economic losses, including medical bills, lost earnings, future medical bills, future wage loss, loss of fringe benefits and any other economic losses incurred as a result of the injury. Additionally, you should demand reimbursement for the pain, suffering, discomfort and inconvenience that the injuries have caused you and for such damages that you are likely to incur in the future. The initial demand should be very carefully analyzed and crafted so that it covers all of your damages and also so that it allows you plenty of negotiation room.
Committing any of the above mistakes can and will cost you thousands of dollars in settlement value. A well-trained personal injury lawyer who specializes solely in that field is your best protection against an unscrupulous insurance adjuster.
If you have been injured and contacted by an insurance adjuster. Please call me for a free, no obligation consultation or contact us online. I can provide you with accurate legal advice that will result in you receiving a full and fair settlement of their claim.