If you have been injured in an accident that someone else caused, you have the right to seek compensation for the costs of your injuries and more. Sadly, many injury victims do not realize the full extent of their rights. Insurance companies are trained to take advantage of this. They routinely try to deny and devalue car accident claims through a variety of tactics.
Below, we’ll cover some of the main ways the at-fault driver’s insurance company may try to deny your full rights to compensation. Knowing about these tactics upfront allows you to prepare and protect yourself. An experienced car accident lawyer can also help you do this.
1. Calling You Soon After the Accident
Very soon after your car accident happens, the other driver’s insurance company might try to call you. Sometimes, it’s even the same day or day after the accident. Even if the call seems nice and harmless, there are a few sketchy reasons they do this:
- They know you are feeling vulnerable and unsure right after a traumatic accident.
- You will not have had enough time to get your injuries checked out or know how serious your damages are.
- They’ll call before you’ve had a chance to consult with a lawyer who can advise you on the best course of action.
Basically, you are in a tough spot, and the insurance company might exploit that.
The person on the other line might ask how you are feeling and try to establish trust. Many people are used to replying to a question like this with “I’m okay” or “I’m fine.” It’s probably also a relief to speak to another human who seems to care—but be careful.
Even if an insurance adjuster is being friendly, they are not your friend. Anything you say on this call might be used against you later. They might also hope that instilling trust encourages you to settle the case right away, which is never good for your interests. Instead, it’s best to talk to a car accident lawyer before you take any calls from the other driver’s insurance company.
2. Dragging Their Feet When Processing Your Claim
Insurance companies have no problem with contacting you right away after an accident. On the other hand, they may take their sweet time actually responding to your claim.
After receiving your personal injury claim regarding the accident, the insurance company might draw out the process of getting details and responding to your claim. The hope is that a delay will wear you down and encourage you to accept a lower settlement—or give up on the whole thing completely.
3. Offering a Lowball Settlement
The moments and days after a car accident are very stressful. Accidents are expensive. Even minor injuries can become costly quickly. If your car was badly damaged or totaled, that’s another expense to worry about. It also means you’re losing a trusted form of transportation to work and other obligations.
The insurance company will know you’re probably stressed about money already. They might offer you a settlement amount right away (often, $1000 or less)—but it’s a lowball that will barely cover any of your damages. While it might be tempting to just take any money you can get right away, it’s vital that you wait until you can negotiate for a fair settlement.
4. Denying Some Or All of the Liability
In Georgia, the at-fault party in an accident is responsible for all damages. In other words, car accident victims have a legal right to seek compensation for those damages from the at-fault driver (Georgia Code section 51-12-4).
Georgia also has comparative fault laws where damages may be shared. If a party holds less than 50% fault in a car accident, they have a right to seek compensation (Georgia Code section 51-12-33). Insurance companies will sometimes use this law against you.
The insurer may deny some (or all) of their fault in the accident. Or, they might try to say you were partially at fault for what happened in hopes that you will accept some responsibility for the accident. This might make you think you are not owed the full compensation you deserve.
5. Claiming Your Injuries Were Not From the Accident
Legally, the only damages you can claim are those directly resulting from the car accident. The insurance company might try to say that some of your injuries happened before or after the accident.
It’s so important to see a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. Otherwise, it’s likely the insurance company will question whether or not your injuries are from the accident.
6. Asking for a Recorded Statement
When the insurance company contacts you after the crash, they might ask you to give a recorded statement about the accident and your damages. They might ask you questions about your injuries, which is risky because you won’t have full details yet.
Anything you say in a recorded statement can be used against you in your case. It’s best to refuse any type of statement and talk to a lawyer first.
7. Sending You to a Biased Doctor
You might be required to get evaluated by a doctor of the insurance company’s choosing. This doctor might be biased towards the insurance company’s side, which means you might not get a fair and thorough evaluation. A car accident lawyer can help ensure any doctor you see is appropriate for the situation and your types of injuries.
8. Encouraging You to Sign a Release
To receive money from the insurance company, you’ll need to sign a release. This is fine if you are accepting a settlement that covers your damages. However, the insurance company might try to get you to sign paperwork before you are ready.
A car accident lawyer can make sure you are only signing things when it’s in your best interests. Otherwise, you can sign away any chance of seeking more money.
9. Making It Seem Like Certain Damages Are Not Available
Some insurance companies might say that certain damages, such as pain and suffering or lost wages, are not fully available. This is likely not true, and it’s just a way of trying to get you to accept less.
10. Discouraging You From Hiring a Lawyer
The insurance company knows that if you hire a lawyer, you have a good chance of winning the compensation you actually deserve. A lawyer levels the playing field. The insurance adjuster might try to say a lawyer is not worth the money or that you cannot get a higher settlement than they’re already offering.
Do not trust the insurance company. Contact a car accident lawyer who will actually be on your side from the beginning.
Get a Free Consultation With a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer
John Foy & Associates is not afraid to stand up to insurance companies and their tactics. For over 20 years, we have been helping car accident victims get the money they need and deserve. We can help you, too—starting with a FREE consultation.
Call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online to get started with your FREE consultation.