Indiana requires all drivers to have liability insurance to protect others in the event of a car accident. The insurance company for the driver who caused the collision is responsible for paying compensation to the accident victim for his or her damages. Examples of damages an accident victim may receive compensation for in an injury claim include:
- Medical expenses, including future medical costs
- Lost wages, including future lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
- Scarring, disabilities, and disfigurement
- Mental anguish, physical pain, and emotional suffering
However, an insurance company is in business to make money. Paying settlement claims reduces the company’s profit. Therefore, an insurance company tries to limit its liability for an injury claim.
To recover compensation for your damages, you must prove that the other driver caused the accident. The insurance company may try to blame you for the accident to deny the claim. If the company cannot blame you for the accident, it may try to claim you are partially at fault to lower the value of your claim. There are two tactics insurance companies like to use to obtain evidence it can use against you in an injury claim.
Recorded or Written Statements
An insurance adjuster may tell you that he needs a statement to verify the facts to process the injury claim. This is a common tactic used by many insurance companies to gain information from you before you have time to consult with a personal injury attorney. The company knows that anything you say can be used later in your case. For example, if the adjuster can get you to say you were in a hurry to pick up your kids from school, the insurance company will claim you were speeding and distracted at the time of the collision. It is always best to consult with an attorney before you speak with the insurance adjuster for the other driver.
A medical release is another tactic to gain information to use against you. The adjuster may say that he needs the medical release to verify your injuries so the company can pay your medical bills. What he is not telling you is that the medical release allows the company to obtain your entire medical history. If it can find a previous illness or injury in your medical history, it will use the information to claim your current injury is not from the accident. Your personal injury attorney will provide the company with the medical records it needs to process your injury claim. You do not need to sign a medical release for the adjuster before you consult with your attorney.
A quick settlement is another way the insurance company can reduce the amount of money it pays for your insurance claim. This works in two ways.
If the insurance company can get you to sign a release settling your injury claim before you speak with an attorney, you may not realize you are entitled to additional compensation. Unfortunately, once you sign the release, you cannot seek more money, even if an attorney tells you that you should have received a higher settlement payment.
Second, the insurance company wants to settle your claim before you discover the full extent of your injuries. If you have permanent disabilities or you require future medical treatment, the insurance company can get out of paying you for this if it can get you to settle now. Even if you find out later you have additional injuries; you cannot go back to the insurance company for more money if you have signed a release.
The insurance company takes advantage of the fact that accident victims often need money to pay medical bills and living expenses after being injured in an accident. It is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced accident attorney before you settle an injury claim.