Auto insurance is a vital form of protection for motorists all over the United States. Without insurance, drivers would have a hard time getting back on their feet after an accident—not to mention it is illegal to drive without insurance coverage in Hawaii.
That said, car insurance doesn’t always help motorists as much as it should. This is because car insurance is ultimately a business, and businesses have to look out for their bottom line as well as keep their investors happy. To do so, auto insurance companies will often employ tactics to avoid paying out large settlements to their clients and may even try to get out of paying entirely. Don’t fall for it—insurance was designed to protect policyholders, and you are entitled to take advantage of those protections when the time comes.
Our Honolulu car accident lawyer explains auto insurance red flags to watch out for if you’ve recently been in a car accident.
The Opposing Insurance Company’s Adjuster Wants to Speak with You
As soon as a collision occurs, the insurance company representing the at-fault driver will start building a case against you. They do not want their client to be held responsible for a crash and have to pay, out money damages to you, so they will often do whatever it takes to discredit you and your claim.
If you receive a call from an insurance adjuster representing the motorist who caused your injuries, do not speak to them—even if they seem friendly or genuinely concerned. Sadly, this is often an act. They are hoping you will admit you caused the crash or that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim and will often ask leading questions to confuse or trick you into doing so. Tell them you are hurt, ask for their name and contact information, and then end the call. If they are persistent, tell them that your lawyer will be in touch and hang up.
Never under any circumstances give them a written or recorded statement without first consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. When you give an adjuster a statement, you relinquish a considerable amount of control of your claim.
The Insurance Company Tries to Make You Settle Right Away
It is highly unlikely that you’ll know the value of your case early on. After a serious accident, your injuries may take weeks if not months to treat. Also, every claim is different, so it is impossible to calculate your losses until you have finished making the best recovery you can.
However, some insurance companies may try to make you settle for a low amount before knowing the full nature and extent of your condition. How can they possibly know how much money your medical treatment will end up costing before it’s finished? The answer is they don’t. Therefore, the responsible party’s auto insurance company should not expect you to settle a claim until you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI)—otherwise, how could they even know how much your claim is worth?
You may be eager to get your claim over with, but do not fall for this. Once you settle your claim, you forfeit your right to reopen it in the future. This means that if an injury lies dormant for a while only to start showing symptoms after you have settled your claim, you are out of luck.
The Insurance Company Tries to Delay Your Claim
Insurance adjusters know that many claimants will eventually give up on their claim if deterred enough. They may try all sorts of tactics to wear you down, including being slow to respond to your calls and emails, requesting documentation they don’t actually need, and transferring your claim to another adjuster. Do not fall for this! They are hoping that you will agree to settle for less than you deserve, or just stop contacting them altogether.
They Try to Claim You Were Partially at Fault for the Crash
Insurance adjusters may claim that you share fault for the collision and therefore don’t deserve to be compensated. Even if you were partially at fault for the crash, this is likely untrue. Hawaii follows the comparative negligence “51% rule.” This means that if you were found to be 50% liable or less for the crash, you are still entitled to receive compensation to cover your injuries.
The bottom line is this: Insurance adjusters are looking for anything they can use to force you into a quick settlement or deny your claim entirely, so you must exercise caution when corresponding with insurance companies after an accident.
To best protect your claim and your legal right to just compensation, contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible—ideally before speaking to insurance adjusters at all. Let your lawyer handle the insurance claims process instead. An experienced attorney knows how to talk to insurance agents without placing your claim in jeopardy and won’t let them get away with their tricks.
Daniel T. Pagliarini Attorney at Law, an experienced Honolulu car accident lawyer, will fight to obtain the full amount of compensation you deserve, no matter how high. If you would like to learn more about how our firm can protect your claim from bad faith insurance practices and secure the compensation you deserve, schedule a free case evaluation with us.
Call or write to us online to set up your complimentary consultation today.