Most drivers on Pennsylvania roads carry auto insurance. As such, insurance companies often play a huge role in Philadelphia car accident cases. In most cases, the “at fault” driver’s insurance will pay for damages after a car accident. The insurance company will then try to reduce its own liabilities by offering a low-ball settlement. Without a Philadelphia car accident lawyer on your side, you may not receive enough money to pay for your injuries and damages.
Hiring a Philadelphia car accident attorney is the best way to protect your rights and obtain maximum compensation. Your attorney’s job involves negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company. They will do this by either directly negotiating with an insurance company employee or indirectly with a lawyer who specializes in representing insured, at-fault drivers (known as an insurance defense lawyer).
Understanding the Basics of Insurance Companies
Generally speaking, it’s a good thing that insurance companies are there to help compensate victims of auto accidents. That’s one of the major purposes of buying insurance, after all. Insurance helps to protect you from being held personally liable to someone you hurt through negligence. However, insurance companies are essentially huge reserves of money that may be tapped to pay for a car accident victim’s injuries. As such, they are not easy targets.
Insurance companies, obviously, are in the business of making money. In the most basic sense, they make a profit by collecting more money in premiums from policyholders than they pay out in benefits. No matter what they say in their television commercials, insurance companies are never excited to pay money to injured people, especially when the injured person isn’t their customer.
An insurance company’s business depends on limiting the number of people it must pay benefits to and the amount of those benefits. They do that by trying to pick apart the insurance claims that injured car accident survivors make.
Insurance adjusters are the insurance company employees who investigate insurance claims and decide whether and how much to pay out on a claim. Many insurance adjusters only investigate car accidents. This means they have experience finding ways to minimize how much money the insurance company has to pay.
Insurance Adjuster Tactics After a Philly Car Crash
If you suffered an injury in a car accident in Philadelphia, you may need to seek compensation from the “at fault” driver's insurance policy. This is not as easy as it sounds. Insurance companies and adjusters have one goal in mind: to pay you as little as possible. That’s why you need to have a lawyer on your side to interact with these adjusters. Obtaining legal representation prevents insurance adjusters from taking advantage of you and your family after a crash.
Some typical tactics insurance adjusters use to limit the insurance company’s exposure include:
- Offering quick, low settlements. They offer these quick settlements in exchange for a liability waiver. They hope you will not yet have a lawyer and are in financial distress. Insurance adjusters know that fast money can feel attractive to injured car accident victims who are strapped for cash, grieving, or struggling to come to terms with a life-changing injury. If insurance adjusters see a chance to take advantage of that vulnerability to limit the insurance company’s financial exposure, they will.
If an insurance adjuster calls offering quick money, that’s most likely a sign that you have a claim worth significantly more than what they’re putting on the table. Tempting as it might feel to take the money and put the whole car accident behind you, don’t. That money comes with strings that may tie up your ability to recover additional money later. Politely decline the offer and refer the insurance adjuster to your Philadelphia car crash attorney. The adjuster has no obligation whatsoever to act in your best interests. Your lawyer does.
- Questioning the extent of your injuries. If an insurance company can show that you are making the injury sound worse than it actually is, or that you suffered the injury somewhere else, then the insurance company may try to escape liability and refuse to pay the costs of the injury.
- Trying to pin the fault for the accident on you. Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence rules give insurance companies a large financial incentive to blame the victim for an accident, and they’ll do everything in their power to find ways to do so.
Do Not Give an Insurance Adjuster a Recorded Statement
Insurance adjusters are not your friends. Their mission is to limit the financial exposure of their insurance company. They’ve spoken with thousands of people just like you. They don’t want to pay you. To avoid paying you what you rightly deserve, insurance companies will use techniques they’ve honed to try to get you to admit you were at least partially at fault for the accident.
An insurance adjuster will try to get you to give a recorded statement. Do not agree to one. Recorded conversations with insurance adjusters are an ambush, and you’re the target. Politely decline to give a recorded statement and refer the insurance adjuster to your lawyer. Stick to your guns, even if the adjuster tries to bully you by telling you that you have a legal obligation to give a recorded statement or by trying to make you feel guilty for declining the conversation.
It is absolutely reasonable and responsible for you to ask for the opportunity to review their request with your lawyer first. Your attorney will advise you whether you have any obligation to speak with the adjuster. In our experience, most of the time, that obligation doesn’t exist.
These are just a few of the techniques insurance adjusters may use against vulnerable accident victims. The best defense against these tactics is to have a lawyer on your side right away after you sustain injuries in a car accident so that you have an experienced negotiator to handle discussions with the insurance adjuster or insurance defense attorney from the get-go.
When Insurance Companies Act in Bad Faith
A skilled car accident attorney knows how to avoid the tricks and pitfalls that insurance adjusters try to use to minimize damages. They also know how to spot when an insurance company is acting in bad faith and hold them accountable.
Under Pennsylvania law, an insurance company that acts in bad faith toward an insured party (including a victim of a policyholder’s negligence) may be liable to the victim for additional damages, including punitive damages and attorney fees. Examples of bad faith can include purposefully ignoring evidence of a covered claim or delaying payment on a valid claim.
When Multiple Insurance Companies Are Involved
Sometimes, it’s not just the other driver’s insurance company that you and your legal team may have to contend with.
In cases where a non-driver is at fault for causing an accident, an insurance company representing the non-driver (such as an insurer for an auto parts company, or the property liability insurance carrier for a restaurant) may also come into the picture. Oftentimes, these insurance companies will fight doubly hard because their own liability exposure may be far larger.
Insurance Companies Are Never On Your Side
In short, in car accident cases, insurance exists to help pay damages to victims of someone’s negligence. But don’t be fooled. The at-fault party’s insurance company is never on your side. Insurance adjusters will do everything in their power to deny or limit the benefits they must pay.
Accident victims have the burden of proof when it comes to proving the existence and severity of personal injuries. This includes catastrophic injuries and damages. Insurance adjusters will use this burden to their advantage. Whenever you seek compensation for serious injuries and damages, the insurance company will likely downplay the seriousness and extent of the injuries and will look for other possible causes of the injuries or impairments.
Call The Levin Firm When a Car Accident Devastates Your Life
From connecting with a client’s personal tragedy to identifying the at-fault parties in an accident, from gathering evidence to proving negligence or strict liability and negotiating with insurance adjusters and defense lawyers, The Levin Firm is a Philadelphia-area law firm committed to serving the needs of motor vehicle accident victims and their families. We have years of experience and a track record of results, having recovered millions of dollars for our car accident clients.
If a motor vehicle accident has devastated your life, either by leaving you with a serious injury or by tragically taking a loved one from you, our team of skilled, compassionate attorneys is here to help. Call us today at (215) 825-5183 or toll-free at (877) 825-8542, or contact or chat with us online, to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team and discuss whether we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.