The Inside Scoop on How Insurance Companies Will Fight Your Personal Injury Claim in Texas
Almost all personal injury claims in Texas – whether it’s related to a car accident or medical malpractice – involve filing a claim with an insurance company. It’s rare that you’ll deal directly with the individual party who caused your accident. In complex cases involving multiple parties, there may even be more than one insurance adjuster to deal with.
The aftermath of an accident is hard enough – recovering from your injuries, trying to figure out what to do about missed work, and going back and forth to medical appointments. The last thing you want to do is fight with insurance companies. And it’s almost always a battle. The reality is that their goal is to pay out as little as possible. There are a few common ways that they’ll try to fight your personal injury claim. An experienced Texas personal injury lawyer can stand up for you and protect you from these tactics.
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Blaming You for Your Accident
This is a common tactic of insurance companies. You can almost count on being blamed for causing your accident. By blaming you, they are trying to justify denying your claim.
One key reason for this – especially in Texas – is due to the law on shared fault. Each state has its own law about how to share financial responsibility when more than one party is at fault for an accident. Some states allow you to still receive compensation even if you were up to 99% at fault, but that’s not the case in Texas.
Texas uses what’s called a modified comparative negligence rule in cases where more than one party is at fault for an accident. If it’s determined that you were 51% or more responsible for your accident, you’re completely barred from recovering any compensation.
And, if you’re less than 51% responsible and still eligible for some compensation, the amount that you receive will be reduced by the portion of fault attributed to you. If you’re found to be 20% at fault, your award will be reduced by 20%.
So, that’s why the insurance company wants to shift as much of the blame to you as possible. If they can make a case that you were mostly the cause of the accident, they won’t have to pay anything.
Getting a Recorded Statement
An early tactic is to try to get you to admit to fault. Then, they’ll try to convince you to take a lowball offer and say that you’re lucky to be getting anything since you were at fault. Be careful talking to insurance adjusters after an accident. You may not really know what happened, so you definitely don’t want to say something inaccurate that could end up getting your claim denied.
How an attorney can help: Attorneys have the resources to conduct a comprehensive investigation of your accident and help support your claims and push back when you’re being unfairly blamed. They often hire experts, such as accident reconstructionists, forensic experts, and engineers, to help prove causation for the accident.
Undervaluing Your Claim
If they can’t completely deny your claim, the next step is to assign the lowest possible value to it. They’ll usually scrutinize your medical treatment and medical records. Common tactics for undervaluing claims involve fighting you on the severity of your injuries. They may look at your medical bills and challenge certain expenses as unreasonable or unnecessary.
They’ll also be watching you carefully after your accident – monitoring your social media or following you around, maybe even talking to your co-workers or family members. They’re looking for evidence that you aren’t as injured as you say you are.
How an attorney can help: Their experts can help support your claims as medically necessary. And, they can advise you on post-accident pitfalls to avoid.
Insurance companies know that people feel a little desperate after an accident. You have a lot going on, you are probably financially strapped, and you are suffering emotional trauma from the accident – and they play on your vulnerability.
Pushing an Early Settlement
They may try to get to you very early in the process and pressure you to take a settlement. They’ll combine this with the tactics already discussed (blaming you, telling you why your claim isn’t worth much) and tell you this is the best you’re going to get.
They’ll hope to get you to settle early (before you have a chance to talk to an attorney). A lawyer will help you understand the full value of your claim. Many injuries aren’t even fully understood right away, so by settling early, they could avoid being on the hook for all of your injuries.
Stalling the Process
Or, they may try another route – and that’s delaying the process. By sitting on your claim, they’re hoping you’ll get desperate for money. They’re hoping you’ll be ready to accept a lowball offer just to get some money.
How an attorney can help: An attorney will step in and handle all communications with insurance companies. They’ll make sure all of your injuries are accounted for in calculating damages. And, if you are struggling to pay medical bills, they may be able to communicate with your medical providers to put a hold on due dates while your claims are pending.
Using Medical Records Against You
Insurers will often ask you to sign a medical release. They’ll, of course, need to see medical records in order to evaluate and approve your claim. But they may ask you to sign a very broad release that gives them access to more than they need. They’ll try to dig through your medical records to find a pre-existing condition to use as the reason for your injuries.
Or, they may challenge the timing of your medical treatment. It’s always important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. Don’t try to tough it out if you think you aren’t badly hurt. Many injuries, such as concussions and other brain injuries, aren’t immediately detected. It’s important to get the care you need.
If you have complications weeks or months later and then go see a doctor for the first time, the insurance company will insist that your injuries weren’t severe. Then, they’ll start digging into your personal life and trying to find financial motives for your sudden interest in getting medical attention.
How an attorney can help: A personal injury lawyer will help protect your medical records and make sure the insurance company only gets what is relevant to your accident.
Insurance companies will never want you to hire an attorney. A personal injury attorney knows how to combat all of their tactics to reduce or deny your claim. Most injury attorneys offer free consultations. And, most don’t charge you anything upfront. That’s because they work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay them if they recover compensation for you.