Few things in life can be as traumatic or life-altering as a serious car or motorcycle accident. You may suffer an injury, and all that follows – getting well through treatment, surgery and rehabilitation, getting back to work, and more. Most people think that their insurance coverage will be there to take care of you financially, or the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver, if they caused the accident.
It’s logical to expect that an insurance company would not be thrilled to have to pay on a claim for your medical treatment, lost wages if you are unable to work, and your pain and suffering. After all, they are in business to make money, and every claim they pay means less money going towards their bottom line.
But most people have no idea just how far an insurance company may go in order to reduce or eliminate their obligation to pay you what you deserve.
After you’ve filed a claim for damages, the first thing the at-fault driver’s insurance company will do is check you out on social media – search for you on Facebook and Twitter, for example - and Google your name. They’re hoping to find something – anything, really – they may be able to use against you, or that will show you in a negative light. If you are claiming any kind of injury, it’s their job to make absolutely sure you are legitimately hurt. Posting photos of your wild dancing on Facebook will definitely not work out in your favor.
Sadly, there are many people who think that a huge corporate insurance giant won’t really check to see if a person is actually hurt or not, and they’ll try to make a fast buck by initiating a fraudulent insurance claim. This practice not only drives up insurance rates for all of us, but makes it much more difficult for those who do suffer from an actual serious injury to be fairly compensated for their injuries and damages under the law.
If you come out of your house after the accident one day and see a strange car parked across the street from your house, there’s a good chance it’s an insurance investigator, trying to catch you doing something that may discredit you, or go against your claim of injuries.
Insurance companies have also been known to speak to your neighbors, too. They’ll go door-to-door, just hoping to find out some information that may make you appear to be something other than you are, or that will make you less credible in the eyes of a judge or jury.
After the accident, you’ll be getting calls from the insurance company adjusters – both yours, and that of the other driver. Their friendly tone and concerned, conversational approach is designed to make you think they’re on your side, and that they truly care. Sure, they are required to tell you that the conversation is being recorded, but after that, the adjuster will go to great lengths to make it sound like they are your friend, just chatting about your crash details. One of the trickiest questions you’ll encounter when the adjuster calls to get your take on the accident may be something like, ‘Based on what happened, is there anything you could have done to avoid or prevent the accident?’ I’m going to tell you exactly how to answer that one – DON’T. It doesn’t matter that you think you’re clever enough to say just the right thing – DON’T answer that question, period.
There is virtually no good or correct answer to a question like that, and the sooner you understand that, the better.
Insurance companies are also notorious for is their love of paperwork. Sure, you can expect there to be a ton of forms to fill out. But, they’re also going to hound you for your medical records, too. And not just the ones related to your most recent injuries, but documentation on medical conditions or past injuries that are in no way related to your accident. They’re going to go to great lengths to find anything they think they can use against you in their efforts to prove your injuries may be unrelated to the crash, and to reduce their liability in paying what you are entitled to under the law.
If you or someone you love is involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, here are some critical things you need to know in order to protect your legal rights:
- DON’T give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster before you speak to a qualified attorney.
- Get a copy of the accident police report.
- No matter how tempting it may be, resist the urge to answer the ‘is there anything you think you could have done to avoid the accident’ question. When it comes to trick questions, this one is the killer.
- Don’t agree or disagree with the adjuster’s version of events.
Many people have no idea what their car insurance policy will cover in the event of a crash. They just know it’s required by law in order to drive, so they’ll get the cheapest they can afford, and hope they never need it. In the aftermath of an accident, you’re flustered, stressed and unsure of what to do next.
Don’t let the questionable tactics of some insurance adjusters add insult to injury. Get qualified advice about your coverage, the coverage of any other drivers involved, and exactly what is covered and what is not.
Scot Goldberg, Esq., of Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone, is a member of numerous state and federal Bar Associations and other professional organizations. He holds a B.A. in Criminology from the University of South Florida and Juris Doctorate from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan and began his career as an Assistant State Attorney in Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit before his current long and successful run in private practice. You can find out more at www.goldberg-law.com.