Our personal injury lawyers speak with clients everyday about their cases and what insurance company adjusters tried to do before our office became involved in the case. The first thing insurance companies try to do, before the plaintiff speaks with a lawyer is take a recorded statement from the injured party. We repeatedly tell our clients, as well as prospective clients, that this is one of the worst things an individual can do. Consider that you have not legal obligation to speak with the insurance company. In essance you are giving away all of the facts of your case and taking a risk the insurance company uses what you say against you. Many times insurance companies will use what people say against them to deny their case. Typically the questions insurance adjusters ask are tailored to fit the specific type of claim, for example, car accident or slip and fall etc. Many times the questions are based upon receipt appellate case decisions and are asked knowing that a specific answer will void the claim. Unwittingly individuals will answer the questions in such a way as to void their claim. As such, we do not let our clients speak with insurance companies.
Another common action by insurance companies is getting individuals to sign medical releases. A medical release allows the insurance companies to get your medical records. Many times there are no restrictions on how far back and from whom the insurance companies can request these records. Many times insurance companies request records from medical providers completely unrelated to your injuries from the car accident. Clients are suprised to learn that the adjuster has requested ten years of their medical records and has knowledge of very personal medical information. Individuals have no legal obligation to sign a medical release for the insurance company.
Many times insurance companies will offer to pay a small sum of money immediately following the accident before the client understands the full extent of their injury. Many times, people settle their cases not knowing that this is a full and final release, regardless of what their injury turns out to be. These offers are typically made immediately following a car accident, without the benefit of a lawyer, when the injured person is the most vulnerable. Many times the insurance adjuster will show up at your house to discuss your claim. They are clearly not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts but for the financial benefit of the company. Unfortunately, the courts have held these releases are valid. Once a release is signed it is nearly impossible to void it and reopen your claim. While it may sound obvious it is recommended not to sign any document without the benefit of an attorney.
In some cases there is physical evidence. For example, if you are eating in a restaurant and bit down on some metal object which results in injury. Insurance companies are very quick to request individuals to send them the object. This should also be avoided as you are giving away key evidence in your case without the benefit of having it evaluated by an independent party.
The influence of sympathetic commercials have helped convince people that insurance companies are on their side. Whether you are in “good hands” and a “good neighbor” people begin to believe that they can trust insurance companies. We stress to our clients that insurance companies are for-profit businesses that make money by taking in money via premiums and not paying out on claims. They are designed to make money and as such, any and all actions are directed towards that goal. Individuals should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can discuss your rights and options. We offer free, no obligation consults to discuss your personal injury. We can set up a time to meet at our office or a location of your choosing.