If you’ve been in a car accident, be prepared for the insurance company to try all the tricks in the book to reduce the amount of your recovery. You shouldn’t expect them to play fair, even if it’s clear that their policyholder is to blame for your injuries. It’s the insurance company’s objective to avoid paying out on claims so they can make their profits. This is why it’s critical to have a lawyer fighting on your side who knows the tactics they’ll use — and how to avoid their traps.
Know that Anything You Say Will Be Used Against You
Very soon after the accident, you’ll probably start getting calls from the insurance companies of the parties involved. They’ll likely ask for a recorded statement about how the crash happened. They may also try to obtain information about your injuries. Don’t fall into the trap.
Rarely do these statements result in any favorable outcome for a plaintiff. The insurance company will try to use anything you say (or don’t say) against you. Not to mention, your statements can be used as evidence for the defense at trial. The same goes for anything you post on social media.
Don’t say anything. Don’t sign anything, either. Importantly, once you’ve retained an attorney, insurance companies can no longer communicate with you directly — this is why you should obtain an experienced lawyer to protect your rights as soon as possible after a car accident.
Outright Denial of Your Claim
Before resorting to other tactics, the defendant’s insurance company may try to deny your claim. Or, at the very least, delay it. They may argue that your claim has no merit — but that doesn’t mean it’s true.
An insurance company may simply be acting in bad faith in the hopes you won’t pursue your case further. A good personal injury lawyer will be able to identify any flaws in your personal injury case and let you know from the outset if it’s worth pursuing.
Shifting the Blame to the Victim
A favorite ploy used by insurance companies is trying to blame the accident victim for their injuries. Even if they can’t blame the collision entirely on you, they’ll argue contributory negligence or say your injuries were pre-existing and weren’t caused by their insured.
The defense might say you could have avoided the accident if you were paying attention. Or, they could contend there was some issue with your vehicle you failed to repair that somehow caused the accident.
Don’t be surprised if the insurance company digs up medical records from an accident you had ten years ago — they’ll try to blame your injuries on that accident rather than the one involving their insured. They can also raise arguments that you had pre-existing injuries from sports you used to play.
As long as you let your lawyer know about any prior injuries, they’ll know how to develop an effective strategy in your case.
If all else fails, the insurance company will try to attack your credibility by asserting you exaggerated your injuries or are lying about your claim. If you’re upfront and honest with your attorney, they’ll be able to counter any arguments raised by the defense.
Setting Up Surveillance to Observe You
Following an accident, there’s a good chance the insurance company may send out investigators to conduct surveillance. This means that they may be taking photos or videos of you going into the gym, doing grocery shopping, or in any other public place — all in an effort to undermine your injury claim.
Also, expect to be watched before, during, and after your liability IME appointment. The staff will be observing you in the waiting room and parking lot to see if you do anything you claimed your injuries prevented you from doing.
Be aware that they may even try to trick you.
For instance, if you claim you can’t bend over due to back pain arising from the accident, they will take note if you drop a pen and lean down to pick it up.
You should also be careful what you say to the doctor at the liability IME appointment. Remember, they’re not your treating physician — the IME doctors are hired by the insurance company and will find any reason they can to reduce your recovery.
Contact an Experienced New York City Personal Injury Attorney
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, hiring an attorney as soon as possible can help protect you from the tricks, traps, and tactics insurance companies use to try to minimize your recovery. We regularly obtain millions in compensation for our clients — despite the lengths the insurance company may go to avoid a payout.
The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP have extensive experience fighting for the rights of accident victims to ensure they get the maximum compensation they deserve. Located in Manhattan, we have been handling personal injury cases throughout New York City since 1937. Call to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.