Craig Swapp from Craig Swapp & Associates joined us to talk about tactics insurance companies may use to minimize the compensation they give out when people file a personal injury claim.
Swapp says it all comes down to money. Insurance companies are businesses and when a case for personal injuries is filed against them, they are motivated to protect their bottom line by minimizing the settlement amount paid out to claimants.
Some of the common tactics Swapp sees are:
- A quick low settlement offer. This usually happens within a week or two of the accident. The insurance adjuster will offer something like $500 right off the bat. This can be tempting. But that will be the end of the compensation the person can get. Once a settlement amount is accepted, the claim is considered settled and there is no going back to negotiate for more money.
- Requests for recorded statements taken by the liability adjuster, who is representing the person responsible for the accident. Often within 24 to 48 hours of the accident, the liability adjuster is asking for a recorded statement from the victim. The insurance companies know that some injuries and subsequent pain don't manifest themselves for a couple of days after an accident. They want to get a quick recorded statement with the victim saying they were not in pain. Swapp recommends waiting until you have an attorney present before a recorded statement.
- Misrepresenting coverage. Insurance coverage is a complicated thing to understand, and this confusion is something the insurance companies use to their advantage.
- Sending an adjuster to the home of the victim. People tend to be more relaxed and be prone to misspeak about the accident or their injuries. Or they may be more open to negotiating a case.
- Recording every phone call looking for a simple mistake. If an adjuster begins a conversation with 'How are you today?' we commonly reply "fine". But that simple word could case future complications.
- Talking you out of using an attorney. An adjuster knows that an attorney can use legal means and understanding of the law to get the injured party a fair and full settlement. So often the adjuster will downplay the need for an attorney.
Swapp says being aware of these tricks and pitfalls is a good first step in protecting yourself, but the best thing to do is to reach out and hire a personal attorney who understands the insurance companies, knows how to avoid their tricks and most importantly knows how to get a fair and full settlement for the victim in the case of an accident.
You can find more information at craigswapp.com or by calling 800-404-9000.