For any Atlanta personal injury lawyer, one of the worst cases is when a potential client has damaged their case to the point that they may only get a little – if any – compensation. This is not due to the fact that they did not have a valid personal injury case. The problem is that an insurance adjuster managed to persuade them to do and say things that damage their case.
Personal injury law works like this: you file a claim against the negligent party’s insurance company. They may accept your claim or deny it. If you are not happy with the settlement they offer or if your claim is denied, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
The problem here, as any Atlanta personal injury lawyer knows, is that during this time the insurance adjuster accumulated damaging evidence against you. It may not be related directly to the accident itself, but it makes you look like you want a large payout for no good reason.
Things are even worse for Hispanic clients, who face the extra challenge of the language barrier.
Insurance Companies Do Not Play by the Rules
The first thing any person with a personal injury case needs to know is that insurance companies don’t play fair. If they did, they would have to admit every valid claim and pay the reasonable damages the person suffered. There would be no need to hire an Atlanta personal injury lawyer.
In reality, things are very different. Insurers put their profits first and instruct their adjusters to do anything they can think of to deny claims or reduce the settlement amount. In our experience, we have seen countless deceptive tactics used by insurance adjusters – and some of them worked, causing injured persons to recover only a part of their damages.
These unfair tactics are even more effective if the accident victim is not proficient in English.
These Are Some of the Biggest Traps You Must Avoid in a Personal Injury Case
So, what exactly can insurance adjusters do to reduce the value of your claim or even void your right to file it? Here are some of the most common pitfalls you should avoid.
1. Agreeing to a Quick Settlement Without Legal Representation
Insurance adjusters infamously visit accident victims in hospitals, as soon as possible after the accident. They know that the injured person is still in shock and confused. In this vulnerable state, they can be manipulated into accepting to sign a settlement deal.
This is the worst possible mistake because it puts an end to your personal injury case. There is no possible legal avenue open for you – neither filing an insurance claim nor filing a personal injury lawsuit. And, as you will soon notice, the amount of money you got in the quick deal is loose change compared to the economic damages you’ve incurred: hospital bills, refilling prescriptions, physical therapy, lost wages, etc.
2. Believing That You Don’t Have a Case
If you refuse to accept a quick settlement, the insurance adjuster’s attitude will suddenly change. They will tell you that they were actually doing you a favor because you don’t really have a valid personal injury case. If English is not your first language, the insurance company will take advantage of this.
First of all, insurance companies are not in the habit of doing favors to anyone. Secondly, according to the comparative negligence principle applicable in Georgia, as long as you are less than 50% at fault for your accident, you have a valid personal injury case.
3. Discussing the Case With the Adjuster Without Legal Representation
When the adjuster realizes that they cannot intimidate you into dropping the claim, they will move to the next tactic: getting you to contradict yourself or make a self-incriminatory statement. They will ask you many questions – some of them rephrased with other words – hoping to get you to admit that:
- You are sorry.
- You were somehow at fault for the accident.
- You are feeling better.
These simple statements will be taken out of context and interpreted to suit the insurance adjuster’s purposes: that you did not suffer any serious injuries or that you were more than 50% at fault.
4. Signing a Medical Release Form
Another frequent pitfall in a personal injury case is signing a medical release form presented by the insurance adjuster. This document practically gives the insurance company the right to access all your present and past medical records.
So, how does this hurt your personal injury case? The insurance adjuster will look up every old injury and illness you’ve had and claim that you did not suffer any specific injuries in the accident.
Of course, you should disclose any pre-existing condition or injury to your Atlanta personal injury lawyer. At a certain point – especially if your case gets to court – your medical records will become available to the other party. Your lawyer can successfully present and win your case if they knew of this aspect ahead of time.
5. Filing a Claim Without a Lawyer
Finally, an insurance adjuster will try to persuade you that you don’t need to spend money on legal representation. Your case is simple and straightforward, it will settle very quickly.
Unfortunately, this is not true. The insurance company will take advantage of the fact that you do not know the law to devalue or deny your claim. Or, they will delay making a decision in your personal injury case until the statute of limitations (2 years after the date of the accident) is about to expire. Always call an Atlanta personal injury lawyer first.
Let an Experienced Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Handle Your Case
Diaz & Gaeta law firm is ready to help every injured person recover their damages from the negligent party. Our Georgia injury lawyers speak Spanish at a professional or native level and will give you all the explanations you need about your personal injury case.
We will analyze your case carefully during a free case review and explain to you the legal options you have. It is important to remember that you should seek legal help as soon as possible after your accident and refuse to be intimidated or persuaded to accept a deal from an insurance adjuster.