In a personal injury claim, an insurance adjuster is an employee of an insurance company that you are filing a claim against. They might be an employee of your own insurance company, or they might represent a defendant that you are filing a claim against (a third-party claim).
Either way, you would do well to remember that the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. They serve one purpose and one purpose only—to make as much money as they can for their employer, the insurance company.
In other words, their interests are absolutely adverse to yours. The more money you make, the less money the insurance company makes, and vice versa.
Watch Out for the Following Insurance Adjuster Tactics
A library wouldn’t be enough to describe all of the ways that insurance adjusters use deceptive tactics to reduce or even eliminate the value of claims. Below are some to watch out for.
Convincing You That You Don’t Need a Lawyer To Resolve your Claim
Unless your claim is very small, nothing could be further from the truth. As explained above, the insurance company’s interests are absolutely adverse to yours. It is a zero-sum game, and whatever you lose, the insurance company gains.
Pressuring You Into a Quick Settlement
Immediately after a serious personal injury, you are likely to be feeling pressure from your healthcare provider to pay your medical bills. The insurance company will be only too happy to issue you a “lowball offer” that doesn’t even begin to cover the true value of your claim. Don’t fall for it.
Relax. There is more than one way to handle outstanding medical bills. A medical lien, for example, uses your future personal injury compensation as collateral for medical bills. Your lawyer can help you arrange one of these.
Disputing Your Medical Treatment Choices
Your medical treatment must be “reasonable and necessary.” Reasonable and necessary are loaded words, however. Is it unreasonable, for example, to visit a chiropractor in response to back pain?
Is it unnecessary to seek medical treatment in Chicago when you live in downstate Illinois? It is issues like these that will prompt lawyers to argue in court.
Claiming Comparative Fault
How do you distribute compensation when both sides share blame for a car accident? Suppose one party was speeding, for example, while the other party was driving at night with their low beams on. Under Illinois comparative fault law, you can only recover damages if you were less than 51% at fault for the accident.
Even if your degree of fault for the accident was considerably less than 50%, you will still lose a portion of your compensation–and that will save the insurance company money.
Claiming That You Failed To Mitigate Your Damages
The insurance company has no obligation to pay for losses that you could easily have avoided. For example, suppose that your doctor advises you to get lots of bed rest in the weeks following your accident. Then you upload a photograph to Facebook showing you hiking in the mountains with friends. Even if it’s an old photo, the insurance adjuster might be able to use it against you in court or during settlement negotiations.
Another way you might fail to mitigate your damages would be to stop taking medication that your doctor has prescribed. Some adjusters will even refuse to compensate you for a head injury if you suffered a motorcycle accident without wearing a helmet.
Asking You To Give a Recorded Statement and Then Asking You Trick Questions
Contrary to what an insurance adjuster might lead you to believe, you are under no legal obligation to give a recorded statement to the insurance company. Insurance adjusters will try to get you to participate anyway, hoping that you will:
- Directly or indirectly admit fault for the accident;
- Share more information with the insurance adjuster than what they actually asked you. Information is currency. Do not overshare it.
- Underestimate the true value of your losses.
Instead of agreeing to a recorded statement, tell the insurance adjuster to direct all further case-related information to your lawyer and nobody else.
Settlement Negotiations vs. Trial
Almost everyone would prefer to settle their case rather than fight it out in court. And that is usually exactly what happens. Just because both sides prefer settlement, however, doesn’t mean that you should refrain from filing a lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit offers many advantages, such as beating the statute of limitations deadline. After all, you can always withdraw your lawsuit once you reach an acceptable settlement.
Do You Need a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer?
Compare the insurance company’s adversarial personal injury claims setup with the relationship between a client and a personal injury lawyer. Under the contingency fee setup that almost all Chicago personal injury lawyers use, the more money you make, the more money your lawyer makes–and vice versa.
Because of this commonality of interests, hiring a personal injury lawyer is one of the best moves you can make to maximize the value of your claim. It all depends on the ultimate value of your claim, however. If your claim is small enough, you might not need a lawyer. Contact our law firm Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers at (312) 929-2884 to schedule a free case evaluation