Your insurance company can be extremely helpful following an accident, or it can be burdensome. The other side’s insurance company will rarely be genuinely helpful following an accident like a motor vehicle crash. There is a difference, however, between being difficult and being unethical. Some insurance companies will use tactics that are either borderline ethical or blatantly unethical to hinder or delay your personal injury claim.
The easiest way to avoid these tactics is to use a personal injury lawyer. An experienced personal injury lawyer is aware of many of these tactics and knows how to respond. In fact, if you involve a lawyer, the insurance company often will not even use these questionable tactics.
Below are three of the most common tactics that are considered improper in a personal injury case.
Settle With The Other Insurance Company
Many accidents involve two insurance companies. Sometimes it is your insurance company and the other side’s insurance company. One company or the other may encourage you to settle with the other company because either you or the other side was mostly at fault. However, you should not do this on the insurance company’s simple directive.
Instead, you should not make any moves until one company states in writing that it will be the primary insurance carrier for the incident. Until that happens, you can proceed against either insured or insurance company.
You Waited Too Long To File A Claim
If there is any delay between the accident and filing a claim, the insurance company may try to tell you that you waited too long to file a claim and that your claim will be denied for that reason. This statement is generally incorrect. The only limitation that you have to file a claim is usually your state’s “statute of limitations.” Most states allow one or two years (or more) to file a claim.
Your insurance company may have notice requirement under your policy, and that may be what the insurance adjuster is referring to. However, most courts will override this policy language if the delay in notification did not prejudice the insurance company. That is, if the insurance company is not at some sort of disadvantage to investigate the claim because of the delay, then your claim can still move forward. Many courts are reluctant to find that the insurance company is prejudiced as well.
You Didn’t Spend Any Of Your Own Money To Pay For The Accident
Health insurance coverage will often initially pay for your medical bills after a personal injury accident. You may also be able to use vacation or sick pay if you missed work following your accident. In most situations, the fact that “someone else” was paying for your damages related to the accident should not matter to an insurance adjuster.
The “collateral source rule” states that it is improper for an adjuster to take other sources of payment into account when discussing or considering settlement options. There are exceptions to this general rule, and an experienced personal injury attorney can help you work through them.
Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you through these and other improper negotiation tactics. Help is available.