The true role of the insurance adjuster is to find a way to pay you less than your claim is worth. Period.
If a commercial truck caused your accident, the truck is insured at a minimum of $1 million. The guardian of that money is an employee of the insurance company called the "insurance adjuster." If you think the insurance adjuster is going to be fair and do the right thing after you've been injured in an accident, think again
When you are injured in a Texas truck accident there can be an incredible amount of money on the line. When the insurance company gets involved, it's no longer the trucking company's money on the line, it's theirs. For more info on the basics of insurance in a truck accident, be sure to click here to learn more.
In this article, we're laying bare the answers to the following questions about how adjusters actually behave:
- Why would an adjuster deny my claim?
- Do adjusters trick accident victims?
- What techniques do adjusters use to undermine my case?
Trucking policy adjusters are the most experienced claims professionals in the business. They are also the smartest, possessing a very high level of trucking accident law knowledge. These adjusters are very good at what they do, and their job is to settle your case for less than what you're actually entitled to.
How an Adjuster Can Deny You Compensation
"Why wouldn't I get what I have coming? I know the truck driver was at fault for my accident." The simple answer is that they'll deny your claim because they can. The insurance adjuster is under no real legal duty to cut you a check. If the insurance adjuster is not worried about your ability to eventually sway a jury to award you a lot of money, then he or she will have no incentive to offer you fair compensation.
We field numerous calls from Texas truck accident victims everyday, and we hear this all the time. The truth is that in a personal injury case, the law isn't on anybody's side. The law simply seeks to be equitable in all matters; compensation is not inherent, nor is it explicit in value. In Texas, unlike some other states, compensation is not "scheduled," meaning there are no set amounts awarded for specific injuries. It is up to you (or your attorneys) to prove how severely you were injured. So even in a case where the defendant is certainly liable, you must still take an aggressive approach to proving that they are liable for an amount that you are happy with and not an amount of their choosing.
Furthermore, truck accident injuries come in a wide variety, from muscle pulls to neck and spinal injuries to broken bones, brain injuries, and many more. Your injury has very likely resulted in you incurring some sort of monetary losses. And while some damages are tangible, such as lost wages, repair bills, and present medical expenses, there are others that can be extremely subjective, such as lost earning capacity or pain and suffering.
Adjusters deny your claim, or at least try to offer you pennies on the dollar for it, until they're scared of what a jury will do.
But even when they suspect they'll have to pay out, adjusters resort to tactics to trick you into taking less than you deserve.
Trick No. 1 - The "Don't Worry about it" Approach
The adjuster will likely try and lull you into a false sense of security, making it seem like since the insurance carrier is accepting liability for your, say, property damage claim, it will assume complete liability. That is simply not the truth in any way, shape, or form. The understandably attractive offer to fix your car does not mean the adjuster will pay your medical bills, your lost wages, your pain and suffering, or anything else. Never allow an adjuster to make you think that everything will be just fine. It is in your best interest to be on guard at all times and hire a lawyer who can make sure your rights are protected.
Trick No. 2 - The Stall Tactic
Sometimes, adjusters don't answer phone calls, return letters, or respond to emails. Or, they make promises that they'll settle the case with you "soon" but never seem to get around to it. If it feels like they're stalling, they probably are.
Why would the adjuster do that? The answer lies in the statute of limitations that is applicable to your case. In Texas, the "statute of limitations" to take legal action after a truck accident is two years. This means you have two years from the date you were hurt to file a lawsuit. And when that happens, your case expires as well. Further, adjusters know that even when the statute of limitations has not expired your claim, the closer you get, the better it is for them. Why? Because the process of 1) hiring a lawyer, 2) your lawyer researching the law, 3) your lawyer drawing up and filing a lawsuit, and 4) getting that lawsuit "served" on the proper defendant takes time, and might take just enough time to run the clock out for them.
We have fielded calls from numerous 18-wheeler accident victims who let their statute of limitations run out because they were victims of the insurance adjuster's stall tactics. These individuals felt betrayed after what felt like assurances from the adjuster that all was well. In the end, there was tragically nothing we could do for them.
Trick No. 3 - The "Similar Questions Technique"
Even if you are able to track down the adjuster working on your case, you could easily make a mistake that could destroy your case. That adjuster will, in all likelihood, ask a line of questions he or she has refined over the years, and this questioning can easily trick you. The main way an accident victim hurts his or her case is not by offering "too much information," or by being honest. Instead, it's when the adjuster phrases the question multiple different ways, the answers end up sounding different from one another. This can be exploited by the adjuster in an effort to make you seem dishonest.
Additionally, they can just ask misleading questions and take advantage of the way you answer. Here's a brief example of how this could be used against you when you talk to an insurance adjuster:
And that is where the insurance company has you - right there. You have basically admitted that you were partially to blame for your accident because you likely "brake-checked" the truck driver, even if you didn't do it. That slip-up could damage your case to the point that no attorney will be able to salvage it. Attorneys do not want their clients to speak with adjusters because they do not want to have to play damage control. Never, ever provide any sort of statement to an insurance company adjuster without your attorney being present. Otherwise, a skilled adjuster can get you to utter seemingly innocuous statements that can later be used against you.
The insurance company does not have to win it's case flat-out to consider it a success. If it can get away with paying you $20,000 less than it has to, then it will be happy. The less you say to an adjuster, the less of a chance you have of making a mistake that will help the insurer achieve its objective.
Trick No. 4 - Dictating the Terms of Your Negotiation
Adjusters often use the old ploy of making a lowball offer and putting a false deadline on it. This causes many people to panic and just take the money, even though they assume that it's not enough to cover their losses. Don't fall for tricks like this. So long as you're well within the statute of limitations, the adjuster cannot place any restrictions on you.
Your attorney will instead submit a list of damages demands to the defendant. Included on this list will be the amount of money for which you will settle, the time frame as to when the offer will be taken off of the table, and the consequences ("I have an attorney and I will sue you.") the defendant will face if your demands are not met. This puts you in the driver's seat because now the adjuster is threatened with credible legal action.
Trick No. 5 - Asking for Your Medical Bills
Insurance adjusters often ask you to submit your medical bills to them as you receive them. Do not comply with these requests, since this only serves to hurt your case. Medical bills are not admissible in court by default. The only way that a jury will ever hear about your medical bills is if you "prove them up" consistent with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Without going through the proper procedures to make your medical bills count as evidence, they are little more than useless paper. As we have stated time and time again, the one of the leading factors of an adjuster giving you fair compensation is knowing your case and having an attorney in your corner who will stand by your side for the best possible outcome in your favor.
Trick No. 6 - the "I'm Your Buddy" Approach
A usual tactic that an insurance adjuster can perpetrate is convincing you that you do not need an attorney. Although you are not required to hire an attorney, it is within your right to hire one to protect your interests fully.The adjuster may try and act like your friend and say something like, "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of everything and give you what you deserve."
At Grossman Law Offices, we have litigated countless Texas truck accident cases over the past 25 years and helped our clients obtain fair compensation for their suffering. We know all the tricks that insurance adjusters try to use, and we are more than up to the task of defeating them. Please do not hesitate to call attorney Michael Grossman at (855) 326-0000 (toll free) for a confidential and free consultation if you or someone close to you has been injured in a trucking accident.