Taking The Blame Game Too Far: When Insurance Companies Dodge Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims exist to help the victims of accidents recover damages done to their person, vehicle, and lives. They are needed to help rebuild, recover, and pay medical bills.. Still, insurance companies will often try to evade, dodge, dismiss, or diminish their liability and how much they have to pay. This article covers…
- Four ways insurance companies will attack your legitimacy and honesty (and why).
- How the new Comparative Advantage rules could stop you from collecting anything at all!
- Why insurance companies will try to spy on you during their personal injury investigation.
What Tactics Will Insurance Companies Use To Dismiss Or Diminish Insurance Damage Claims In A Car Accident Case?
Insurance companies are the ones who end up paying the compensation accident victims need to recover. But all too often, their objective is to do the opposite.
They will use anything they can to challenge the extent of your injuries or damages after a crash to try and pay out less:
- They will criticize what you did before and during the crash, blaming you for your injuries.
- They will point out any discrepancy or lack of property damage to call into question your injuries.
- They will point out each and every prior injury or aggravating circumstance to minimize your compensation.
- They will seize any gap in your medical treatment or delay before surgery to invalidate your injuries.
Take one example: A man was making a left turn early in the morning while it was still dark, and the person who hit him did not have their headlights on and was traveling at a high speed. The insurance company tried to blame the man, saying that he should have taken evasive action, even though the other driver did not have their headlights on.
In this case, in order to deny the claim, they need to prove that the man did something wrong. If the other driver had had their headlights on, the crash clearly would not have happened. But the insurance company will still argue that he had a duty to yield since he was making a left turn. Surely, with the benefit of hindsight, he should have looked and been aware that people might be driving without their headlights at three o’clock in the morning. Clearly, they are trying to shift the blame by focusing on evasive actions.
They do the same for injuries, prior conditions, and gaps in medical treatments. All with the end purpose of diminishing or dismissing the claim.
Some such tactics can easily be beaten with proper information and planning. For example, knowing that insurance companies will use any delay in getting to a doctor against you, a personal injury lawyer will always tell their client to see one right away, even if they are unsure if they need to.
How Can You Fight Against Insurance Companies Trying To Undermine Personal Injury Claims?
In every one of these cases, the insurance company aims to attack the legitimacy of your injuries or your character, truthfulness, and honesty. They start from the premise of not believing you are actually hurt, even if they have very little evidence to support this, and they do it in every single case.
Your personal injury attorney’s job is to call out their poor behavior for what it is. After all, they are, in effect, calling the victim a liar, a thief, and a cheat or implying that everyone is until proven otherwise.
They will use the occasional outlier fraudulent case to dismiss the legitimate claims and complaints (and needs) of badly injured clients. Even when challenged and even when all the evidence from a client points towards a legitimate claim, from complaints to his doctor to the objective MRI findings showing that he has a serious injury that was caused by the crash.
They lump all of the cases in with fraudulent ones and force attorneys to file lawsuits to get the legitimate amount of money that’s owed. Which then ends up costing more of the precious money each victim is owed.
Why Do Insurance Companies Attempt To Shift Blame Onto The Injured Party In Car Accident And Other Personal Injury Cases?
In addition to their underhanded tactics and negative outlook, insurance companies have become quite adept at navigating the state’s new comparative negligence laws. In the past, you could collect an amount proportionate to your own fault, so if you were 90% at fault, you could still collect 10% of your injuries or damages.
Under the modified comparative negligence law, if you are solely 50% or more responsible, you cannot recover anything at all. This has become a new reason and tactic for shifting blame. It will probably come up more in slip-and-fall cases. The argument is going to be that since the dangerous condition was on the floor and you did not see it, you are more than 50% at fault and will, therefore, recover nothing and cost the insurance company nothing.
This new law will certainly begin to hurt people who before might have been able to claim at least some damages. Take such a slip-and-fall case. Most of us do not look at our feet when walking. We look straight ahead, especially when running or in a hurry. Everyone has tripped and stubbed their toe on something, but it does not mean that everyone is careless and negligent, certainly not to the point of doing something wrong.
Scientific studies suggest we look about 15 degrees in front of ourselves and not at our feet. Yet, in slip-and-fall negligence cases, they will try to shift the blame to the injured party and say they did something wrong. Luckily, that remains an affirmative defense, which means that the burden of proof is on the defense to show that you did something wrong, not that you could have done something differently, but that you actively did something wrong.
What Is The Role Of Civilians And Investigations In Insurance Company Defense Strategies For Car Accident Cases?
Inevitably, insurance companies are looking for reasons to turn you down or diminish the value of your case. To do so, they will employ a two-pronged strategy.
First, they will ask you all sorts of questions in a deposition: what can’t you do because of the crash? How have your injuries impacted your life? And So forth. They hope you will say something specific, such as, “I can’t lift anything above 25 pounds”.
Then they are going to put an investigator on you, that’s the second prong, and hopefully catch you doing something, such as carrying groceries in from the car. Since those groceries are 25 pounds or more, this will allow them to say that you are a liar, a thief, and a cheat, and that will seem persuasive.
The defense against this is not to allow them to corner you into specifics when your experience is important and how it differs from most people’s. For example, maybe it is not exactly true that you cannot carry 25 pounds (though it might be true that you should not), but you experience doing so differently. Maybe you need to have more breaks, or afterward, if you decide to push too far, you have to take painkillers, lay down with a heating pad for hours, or be stuck in bed all day the next day because you are so sore.
The defense wants the jury to judge you like a book by its cover. They want to take one or two photographs and show you from the outside and say that this person looks fine. They clearly cannot be hurt, and they are asking for millions of dollars. They will try to make you look crazy for it.
But in reality, the context matters, and what you have experienced and the value of what has been taken away from you in terms of harms and losses may be actually worth that much, or much much more.
Surveillance is used to try to get the jury to judge your book by a cover of their choosing. You could be in extreme pain with many types of injuries but look fine from the outside. But it is one more way for insurance companies to try to get away with paying less money.
Insurance companies did not get to be the size they are today by behaving fairly or having compassion. They become a profit source, and all they care about now is generating profit, and they generate profit by collecting more in premiums and paying less in settlements.
This is why you need someone to fight for your side, to see and hear your truth, and show it to the jury. An experienced personal injury attorney will not simply fight against insurance companies; they will also fight for you.
For more information on Tactics Used By Insurance Companies To Deny Claims, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (954) 546-7608 today.