Insurance adjusters work for the insurance companies. As such, they have developed certain strategies to justify denying a claim or reducing the amount of money you may receive in a claim.
When an adjuster sees that someone with an injury claim does not have a lawyer, the gloves can come off. The injured person might get bombarded with phone calls, letters, and emails from the adjuster, to the point of harassment. The claimant might settle the case just to make the harassment stop.
In addition to badgering the claimant, insurance adjusters use many techniques to settle cases before the injured person hires a lawyer to represent him. Once you get a lawyer, the insurer is not supposed to contact you directly. If the adjuster or anyone else from the insurance company calls you, tell them to talk to your attorney.
Medical Records Release Forms
A medical records release form allows an insurance adjuster to collect a copy of your medical records. He cannot obtain these records without your signed consent. It is a legitimate request for the adjuster to review the records about the treatment you needed for the injuries you sustained in the accident. It is not appropriate for the adjuster to have you sign an authorization that gives the adjuster access to your full medical history from years before the accident.
The only reason an adjuster wants to see medical records from before this accident is to find an excuse to pay you less than you should get. The insurer does not have a right to examine your entire medical history, unrelated medical issues, or pre-existing conditions. Any medical records release forms you do sign should specify his access to only the treatments and bills related to the injuries sustained in the accident, and it should have a termination date upon signing. If you have any questions, you should have your personal injury attorney review it to protect your legal rights.
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Why People Get Trapped by the Medical Authorization Tactic
The open-access medical records release form tactic works best when the injured person is anxious to settle the claim because he is in a financial crisis, such as lost time from work without pay.
The injured has fallen behind on the mortgage, utilities, and other living expenses. The medical bills are piling up with no way to pay them. He has maxed out his credit cards just to put food on the table and gas in the car. He is desperate to settle the injury claim.
You do not have to despair, and you do not have to sign anything you do not feel comfortable signing. Signing a medical records release form does not speed up the process. If anything, these forms can delay the settlement of your claim because the adjuster might want to dig deeper into unrelated medical issues he finds in your medical files.
Giving the Adjuster a Written or Recorded Statement
The claims adjuster will perform an investigation of the accident to determine who was at fault. As part of his investigation, he will take statements from all the parties involved. The adjuster might ask you to give a recorded statement or to sign a written statement.
Although statements sound innocent, the purpose of these statements is to benefit the insurance company, not you. The insurer can ask one-sided, biased questions and twist your words into something you never intended. The adjuster uses the information in the statement to justify paying a reduced claim value than what you should receive for your injuries.
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The Adjuster Is Not Your Friend
No matter how charming the adjuster acts, you must realize that he is not your friend. He is not working for your benefit. His job is to help the insurance company keep its money by paying you very little. Do not be deceived that the adjuster is looking out for you. He guards the best interests of the insurer, not you.
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The adjuster might string you along, leading you to believe that the claim is going to settle soon. Then, one day, he disappears. He does not return your phone calls or answer your emails. You might get a form letter that the insurer closed the claim because the statute of limitations has expired.
You only have a short window of time to file a personal injury lawsuit. When that deadline passes, the insurance company has no legal obligation to pay you. If you tried to handle your injury claim without a lawyer, you likely did not know about this law.
The adjuster had no intention of settling your claim. He made you think that everything was going well so that you would not hire a lawyer who would have filed a lawsuit in time to protect your right to compensation.
Bullying and Threats
If all else fails, the adjuster might resort to threats and bullying. For example, he might make a low-ball offer with a short timeline for you to accept. He might say that you have to take the offer right now, or he will withdraw it.
The adjuster is less likely to use these tactics when you work with a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can respond to a threat by filing a lawsuit. The insurer will then have to pay an insurance defense attorney to represent them in the lawsuit. The insurance company’s legal fees might exceed the amount that they could have paid to settle the case.
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At the Sevenish Law Firm, P.C., we help people who were hurt because of the carelessness of others. Personal injury is all we handle, and you do not have to go through this stressful experience alone. In fact, we recommend you do not. We fight hard to get our clients every dollar that they deserve. Call us today at (317) 636-7777 for a free consultation. There is no obligation.