Insurance companies may treat you unfairly by using the “Triple D” tactic known as “Delay, Deny, and Defend.”
With this approach, the insurance adjuster will first avoid contacting an injury victim. Injury victims may become frustrated when then try and contact the adjuster only to be given the runaround. Accident victims are put on hold for long periods of time or told that the adjuster is not available. Once the accident victim does talk to an insurance adjuster, the adjuster will be very friendly – at first – promising to take care of things at some point in the future. However, the delay tactics often continue, with the insurer demanding that the injury victim provide volumes of documents to support their claim.
Once these documents are provided, however, the insurance adjuster then claims that the insurance company did not receive the information - or the insurance company simply won’t respond in a timely way. An injury victim may become so worn out dealing with this runaround that he or she will accept an insurance settlement for less than what the injury victim is owed. If the injury victim doesn’t accept a low settlement, the insurer may then require the victim to file a lawsuit before offering a fair settlement.
The Delay, Deny, and Defend tactic can not only result in an insurance victim accepting less than they are owed, but it can also result in accident victims losing their rights altogether. There are specific legal deadlines in accident cases known as “Statutes of Limitations.” A statute of limitation requires that a lawsuit to recover damages must be filed in a certain period of time following an accident. If the injury victim fails to file a lawsuit within this time, the victim loses the right to recover any money – even if the other driver is completely at fault. In these cases, the insurance company avoids paying anything – money for medical bills, lost work time, pain and suffering – the insurance company pays nothing.
For this reason, it is very important that you seek immediate legal advice if you have been injured in an accident so that you know your rights – even if you don’t ultimately hire a lawyer to represent you.
The most common documents which an insurer may send you are medical releases and proposed settlement agreements. You should not sign either without legal advice.
An insurance adjuster may ask you to sign various documents. Don’t be tricked. These are legal documents that may require you to give up legal rights if you sign them. You should never sign any document provided to you by an insurance company without first having it reviewed by a lawyer.
Our lawyers will review any document related to your injury claim without charge. If an insurance company asks you to sign anything, contact us first by phone, text or message. We will review the document with you, free of charge, to help protect your rights. There is never a need to sign an insurance document without having it reviewed by a lawyer.
Additionally, you may be asked by an insurance company to provide a written or recorded statement about the circumstances of your accident. A common insurance tactic used by insurers following an accident claim is to ask the injury victim for a recorded statement about the accident. Frequently, an insurance representative will attempt to obtain this statement shortly after the injury – before the injury victim has talked to a lawyer.
Before agreeing to give a recorded statement, ask yourself this question – why does the insurance company want to record the call? The simple answer is so that it can be used against you at a later time. If it is already clear who is at fault, why does the insurance company need a recorded statement? The insurance adjuster can ask questions during this recorded statement which may be designed to confuse you – even if those questions would not be allowed to be asked in court. These statements can result in costly mistakes which an insurance company may use to avoid paying what it owes you.
For these reasons, you should always talk to an injury lawyer for guidance before giving any statement to an insurance adjuster. Alternate: We very rarely recommend that our clients give recorded statements as they often ask questions that are inappropriate. If you do give a statement, you should do so only in the presence of your attorney who can make certain that all of the questions are fair.
You should never provide a recorded statement without first talking to a qualified lawyer. If you are asked to give a recorded statement, contact us to discuss your rights and options, free of charge. If you have already given a recorded statement, we will review your options.
Another insurance tactic is to ask you to sign a medical records release. Again, you should speak to a lawyer before signing this type of release. A frequent tactic is for the insurance company to trick you into releasing your entire life of medical records, including information not related to your accident. They do this to fish for other, irrelevant medical conditions that they will point to later to try and reduce your settlement. You can learn more about medical record releases here.
If an adjuster makes a quick offer to settle your case, this should set off alarm bells. This is often a tactic to tempt you into settling your case for less than its fair value.
You should be deeply concerned if an insurance adjuster says you do not need to talk to a lawyer or discourages legal advice. They will often falsely suggest that getting a lawyer will reduce your settlement because of lawyer fees. An insurance-company study found that people represented by lawyers recover, on average, 3 times more than those with attorneys. After this study, some insurance companies started training adjusters in tactics designed to get people to resolve their claims before seeking legal advice. (One of these tactics is the “quick settlement” approach).
In some instances, an injury victim may have their own insurance which gives them protection in case of an injury.
Whether you were a driver, passenger, or pedestrian injured in an accident, you may be protected by coverage you or a family member paid for. For example, many auto insurance policies provide “Medical Payment” protection that provides insurance coverage for medical bills if you are injured – regardless of who was at fault.
Your or a family member’s insurance may also provide “underinsured” or “uninsured” motorist coverage. In many states, it is mandatory that the insurance company make this type of coverage available. This type of coverage provides you with protection when you are injured due to the fault of another driver, but that person does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to compensate you. This insurance may be available to you even if you were not in your own car and even if you were a pedestrian.
Because this type of coverage is paid for by you or your family, and not by a “third-party,” it is frequently referred to as “First-Party Insurance.”
Dealing with a First-Party Insurance company is frequently very different than dealing with a Third-Party Insurance company. Typically, a person who has a right to First-Party Insurance coverage is bound by obligations in the First-Party Insurance contract. Failure to comply with requirements in a First-Party Insurance contract may result in a loss of insurance coverage.
One of the contractual requirements of an injury victim under a First Party insurance policy may be to provide the company with notice shortly after injury. A failure to provide notice within these time requirements may result in loss of First Party Insurance coverage. These time requirements in some instances are very short.
Although a First-Party Insurer is “your” insurance company, do not assume that an insurance representative has your best welfare in mind when discussing your claim. It is just as important to make sure you are being treated fairly when dealing with a representative of your own insurance company as it is when dealing with a Third-Party insurance company. If you are not treated fairly and in “good faith” by your insurer, you may have a legal claim against them directly.
If an injury victim is injured due to the fault or “negligence” of another person or company, then it is probably necessary to deal with the insurance company of the person or company that negligently caused the injury. This is often referred to as “Third-Party Insurance” because the insurance coverage was paid for by the third-party that injured the victim.
Third-party insurers are primarily required to act in the best interest of the company or person which paid for the policy: the person that injured you.
For this, you should be especially cautious dealing with insurance representatives from third-party insurers. We recommend to our injury clients that they never speak with a third-party insurance representative. In fact, when we represent injury victims and their families, our firm handles all contact with the third-party insurer and its representatives to make sure our clients are treated fairly. It is especially important that an injury victim not sign any materials or give any statements to a third-party insurance representative without talking to a lawyer experienced in injury law first.
Before you sign anything presented by an insurance representative, you need to know that the insurance company is treating you fairly and in good faith. If you let an insurer treat you unfairly, you may receive a settlement which is far less than your claim is actually worth.
We do not advise ever providing information to any insurance adjuster without first talking to a lawyer. However, you may be under obligations to furnish certain information to your own insurance company, or you could jeopardize your right to payment under the insurance contract.
Depending upon the victim’s circumstances, the victim may be under a duty to provide a recorded statement to a First Party Insurer: the victim may even be required to do so under oath. An injury victim may also be required to provide other information to the insurer, including a medical records release.
Because giving information to an insurance representative has the potential to harm a victim’s injury claim – yet may be required in some circumstances – we strongly recommend that you obtain advice from a qualified injury lawyer before you proceed.
If you are contacted by a third-party insurance representative, contact us 24/7//365 and our team will evaluate your situation without charge.
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Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.