Suppose you have been injured in a preventable accident in California. In that case, you should be aware that your issue will likely be resolved by reaching a settlement agreement with an insurance company.
This is true whether your injuries were caused by a car accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, truck accident, slip and fall, premises liability case, among others.
Insurance companies are notorious for minimizing the amount of money they have to pay out in a personal injury claim.
It is essential to understand from the onset that insurance companies and their adjusters are never on your side in a personal injury case. Insurance companies are big businesses, and their primary goal is to keep as much of their money in-house as possible.
The insurance companies do not make their money by paying out personal injury claims. As such, adjusters will use every tactic in the book to try and undermine the actual value of your injury case.
From the very beginning of your case, the first question in the mind of an insurance adjuster is whether to accept or deny liability for your claim.
Typically, they will base their decision on several factors, including police reports, witness statements, pictures, and the extent of the injury. If denying your claim is impossible, insurance companies would love you to settle quickly because quick settlements in a personal injury case are often cheaper.
Unfortunately, many victims will just accept a denial or low settlement offer as they believe nothing more can be done.
For example, early in a case, personal injury victims have not had an opportunity to consult with an attorney. They may not yet know the full extent of their personal injury or medical bills, lost wages, and disability.
Common tactics used by insurance claim adjusters against personal injury claimants can seem unbelievable. These early tactics include attempts to get you to admit fault, minimizing the victim's need for ongoing medical care, attempting to get you to sign forms that might compromise your claim, and they may even try to convince you not to hire a personal injury lawyer.
See our related blog: What To Do If You Are Getting Lowballed By An Insurance Adjuster.
If you or someone you love has sustained injuries in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys may be able to assist you.
Our personal injury lawyers know how to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of an accident case, and we know the tricks and tactics that adjusters use to try and undervalue claims.
Common Ways of Limiting Personal Injury Recovery
In a personal injury case, insurance companies and their adjusters will do everything in their power to try and undervalue your claim. To that end, some of the insurance companies' favorite tactics include the following:
- Contesting liability in the case – Every personal injury case has two components: liability (or fault) and damages (i.e., money to compensate the injured victim for injuries sustained in the accident). When the insurance company disputes or denies liability by alleging that the defendant was not at fault – or that the injured victim caused or contributed to the accident – the value of a personal injury case can decrease significantly.
- Downplaying property damage – In most car accident cases, the amount of property damage to the vehicles plays a significant role in the case's outcome. Generally speaking, the lesser the amount of property damage, in the insurance adjuster's mind, the less the case is worth from a monetary perspective. Having good color photographs depicting property damage may help to increase the value of a personal injury case.
- Downplaying the victim's injuries – The more serious the victim's injuries and damages, the more valuable the case. In other words, personal injury victims who have sustained fractures or broken bones – or who have undergone surgery – will generally have a more valuable chance than someone who merely sustained soft tissue neck or back injuries that were resolved without injections or surgical intervention. The insurance companies will look to prior medical conditions, accidents, or injuries to downplay the significance of any injuries sustained in an accident.
- Attempt to get a recorded statement – Insurance adjusters are trained to attempt to get a recorded message of the victim as soon as possible after the accident. They will often pretend to be your friend and make you believe they have your best interest in mind. However, their main goal is to get you to make harmful admissions as to how the accident occurred, get any type of statements that might hurt your case later, or minimize any complaints of any injury that might require medical care.
- Offer a quick settlement – One of the most common tactics of insurance adjusters is to offer an immediate small payment after an accident. In some personal injury cases, this fast offer will come before you have even had an opportunity to visit a doctor or understand your need for ongoing medical care. In many cases, an accident victim does not even begin to feel the full impact of their injuries until days afterward. Accident victims will often accept a sum of money and sign a binding release before knowing the full extent of damages. Once you have signed a binding release, you can't go back and ask for more money.
As a victim, you should be aware that insurance companies are under no legal obligation to settle injury cases fairly. As a result, if you do not have a good idea of what your case is worth, you run the risk of accepting a settlement offer that does not adequately compensate you for all of your losses.
It is important to note that under California law, both economic and non-economic damages can be recovered – which means that any settlement offer you accept should include compensation for your pain and suffering and diminished quality of life in addition to your property damage and medical expenses.
Because it can be challenging to assign a dollar value to these kinds of losses, it is critical for anyone hurt in an accident to retain an attorney familiar with representing injured victims and who has a track record of successfully negotiating with insurance companies.
Contact Us To Learn How We Can Help You
The skilled Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at Injury Justice Law Firm LLP can evaluate your case and take an aggressive stance against the insurance company in your case.
We regularly work with people who have been injured in a wide variety of incidents, including car accidents, commercial truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, pedestrian accidents, road condition accidents, workplace accidents, construction site accidents, bicycle accidents, bus accidents, and more.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation, call our law firm at 310-734-7974.