Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of serious injuries in Virginia. According to the most recent comprehensive data published by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), approximately 65,000 people are injured in traffic collisions in the Commonwealth each year. In 2019, 3,160 auto accident injuries were reported in Virginia Beach City alone.
Following a significant crash, you need financial compensation to pay for medical care, cover lost income, and support your family. Unfortunately, large insurance companies are not known for making the claims process easy. Here, our auto accident attorney highlights four of the common tactics they use to limit the value of personal injury settlements.
Four Insurance Company Strategies to Watch Out for After a Car Crash
After a car accident, you have a legal right to take the time you need to recover—both physically and mentally. You are not required to give a recorded statement to an opposing insurance company. Nonetheless, you should expect a call from an insurance adjuster who just wants to “talk” about your accident. It is not in your best interest to speak to an insurance company representative without first consulting with an accident lawyer.
The purpose of the call is simple: The insurance company wants you to answer questions and give a recorded statement so that they can find information that can be used against you in the claims process. Among other things, an insurance company representative may try to get you to admit or accept partial fault for the accident. As Virginia operates under a harsh contributory negligence standard, being assigned any level of blame for the accident could prevent you from recovering compensation.
Medical Authorization Forms
To settle your car accident claim, an insurance company will need medical records and other evidence that proves the existence and severity of your injuries. However, insurers often request medical records far beyond what is necessary or appropriate. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects your medical records. To get around this law, the insurer may ask you to sign a HIPAA compliant medical authorization form that releases all of your medical records. Do not give the insurer your medical records without first speaking to a lawyer.
Quick (Lowball) Settlement Offers
You have probably heard that insurance companies are known to drag their feet in settlement negotiations. While that certainly happens, it does not work that way in every case. In fact, in some circumstances, insurers try to push quick, lowball settlement offers. It is a strategy designed to get an injured victim to agree to settle their claim before they even know the true total value. Make sure you understand how much your car accident injury case is worth before you settle it.
The Final Offer Trick
You also need to watch out for the so-called “final offer” trick. Insurers will try to pressure injured victims into resolving car accident cases by stating that this is the “final offer” or “last chance.” The process is more complicated than that. Do not get pressured into agreeing to accept less than you deserve simply because an insurer adjuster states that it is a final offer. Let your lawyer take care of this issue.
Schedule Your Free Car Accident Consultation in Virginia Beach
At The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, P.L.L.C., our attorney is a tireless advocate for victims and their families. If you have any questions about dealing with insurance adjusters after a traffic collision, we can help. Get in touch with our firm today for a free, no obligation initial consultation. From our Virginia Beach legal office, we handle auto accident injury cases throughout Hampton Roads, including in Newport News, Norfolk, and Suffolk.