Learn the big D’s of insurance tricks and why Witt Law Group gives them an F!
It is not unusual to have clients walk through the door who tried handling their own personal injury case. They gave it a good try, took a few bruises, and realized that they want nothing to do with this kind of battle.
If you’re still wondering whether to throw in the towel on self-representation, here are some insurance tactics you should consider. Are you ready to deal with these issues on a regular basis? We like to call the adjusters’ top moves the “Big D’s”—deceptive dialogue, distract, delay, dispute, distorted defense, and discounted offer.
#1 Deceptive Dialogue—
Do you have the sweetest Grandmother ever? Well, wait until you hear from your first insurance adjuster after an accident. You’d think they are just about ready to bring you a home made meal and deliver you to your next doctor appointment…their doctor, of course. Being nice is wonderful but be aware that this conversation is being recorded. First, everything you say will later be used to spin the case against you. Insurance companies make money by NOT paying claims and that includes yours. They also know (from studies they have conducted) that, if they are extremely friendly on those first few calls, you are much less likely to hire an attorney. Second, they know victims without lawyers settle claims for significantly less.
You will be required to provide ridiculous amounts of information. Much of it will be irrelevant (your lawyer would tell them to pound sand). The process is meant to frustrate you and delay the process. They will tell you their file isn’t complete so they can’t make an offer. When you produce this random information, they will eventually spin it as the reason they would like to offer you more but just can’t. After so many months of waiting and digging up random paperwork, you’ll be ready to take whatever they offer.
This tactic comes in many forms. First, it will be similar to distracting. They will claim they just don’t have all of your medical records. Then, they don’t have all of the bills. Next, they need more information from the other side. Awww….so sorry about the wait. Later in the case, they will claim you need to see one of their doctors. If you’re lucky enough to be offered a settlement, they’ll put the wrong name on the check, the wrong amount, or perhaps send it to the wrong address. Darn…sorry about the wait (but thanks for letting us rack up a bit more interest on that money we’re holding). Finally, if they don’t offer you a settlement and you must go to trial, they will refuse to work out any settlement until right before trial. The longer they hold onto your money, the better for the insurance company profits.
This is a game you can’t win. If you took your doctors advice and popped the ibuprofen and tried to rest for a week or two, they’ll claim you had a “gap in treatment” that is unreasonable. Clearly, you must not have been hurt. If you go right to treatment and work diligently to get better, they’ll claim you “over treated” and your medical care was unnecessary, therefore they aren’t paying for it (this can happen even with your own PIP). Remember those early phone conversations that were so sweet and concerned? You’ll notice a change of tone now.
#5 Distorted Defense
This is a subset of the “delay” tactic. The insurance company will claim that the police report is wrong. All along, everyone understood the accident was not your fault. Now, the insurance company no longer follows the police report. Most frustrating, the insurance company doesn’t have to be justified in it’s position, it can just take this hostile position. If you don’t want to go to trial, you might be out of luck.
#6 Discounted Offer
You’re nearing the end of the painful process. Unfortunately, the end might happen to coincide with the end of the year. This is when the insurance companies prey on your “holiday” vulnerabilities. You need a check to pay for gifts and they are happy to throw you a low ball and “get in the mail asap.” Don’t assume the check will actually get to you during the holidays. Refer to #3. However, they will lock down low settlement offers during this time when most people are desperate. This treatment isn’t just for people representing themselves. Adjusters know that attorneys have to present all offers to clients so they throw out lower offers during this time to everyone. The benefit of legal representation is that your attorney can discuss the realities of this tactic and whether it is better for you, long term, to pass on the discounted offer.
For obvious reasons, we give most insurance companies’ defense tactics an “F” when it comes to truly helping an injured person. Typically, these tactics come before making sure the accident victim is being treated fairly and justly. The insurance companies don’t make a profit if they can’t keep settlements low. It doesn’t matter if a low settlement is unjustified in your particular case—it’s justified in the name of profits.
If you are unsure whether to hire an attorney, contact our office for a free consultation so you can educate yourself about the specific challenges related to your case. Every case is unique and your representation should make sense for you. Our attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call and we can travel to you in the event your injuries limit your mobility. You can reach us in Gig Harbor at 253-312-3838 or Bremerton at 360-792-1000. You may also CLICK HERE to fill out our online contact form. We are here to help at any stage of your case.