4 Traps to Be Aware of in Your Personal Injury Claim

Last weekend you were leaving the Saint Louis Galleria when a distracted driver rear-ended you, resulting in severe whiplash and a broken arm. You went to the emergency room immediately, and your treating physician advised you that you won’t be able to work at your warehouse job until your arm heals—a process that could take weeks or months.

Today, you get a call from an adjuster at the at-fault driver’s insurance company. She asks for a recorded statement with your version of the accident as well as some personal information. She says that these details are needed to verify liability before the insurer can pay you.

You’re tempted by the thought of getting paid quickly because you need the money. The accident was not your fault and the adjuster seems genuinely concerned about you. What could be wrong with giving her the information she is looking for?

A lot. Don’t do it!

Insurance companies are like any other business. Their primary aim is to make a profit and protect their bottom line. While there is nothing unusual or sinister in this premise, it can leave you, the injured party, in a difficult position because they’re protecting their best interests, not yours. If you are dealing with an insurance company (either your own or the other party’s) after being injured in a car accident, look out for and avoid these hidden traps.

  1. They ask you to “just sign a bit of paperwork”

As soon as you report a covered injury, insurance adjusters will start collecting as much information about you as they can, with the goal of settling your claim for as little as possible. When the paperwork includes a medical release form, you are giving them access to your entire medical file, which includes pre-existing conditions unrelated to your injury. If you had a dislocated shoulder in the past, for example, an insurer may try to claim that you had a predisposition to an arm injury.

This is not to say that you can or should hide this information from an insurance company that requests it, but unlimited access to your records is never a good idea. If a company asks you to sign a general release form, contact a personal injury attorney right away.

  1. They request a recorded statement

As you’ve discovered already, an insurance adjuster will contact you soon after the collision and ask for “your side of the story” so that they can determine liability and compensate you more quickly.

Never give a recorded statement to a representative of the at-fault driver’s insurance company without consulting an attorney first. The purpose of these statements is to use your own words against you to reduce the value of your claim. In most cases you can refuse to give a recorded statement, but your own insurer may request a statement before addressing your property damage losses. If so, ask if it can be written instead of recorded, as writing things down can allow you to review everything and correct any mistakes before you submit the document, ideally under the direction of a personal injury attorney.

  1. They urge you to settle your claim early

This is one of the biggest traps insurance companies have been known to set. They rely on your need for money (especially if you haven’t been able to work since the accident) to persuade you to settle your claim as quickly as possible. Early settlements are the cheapest ones from their perspective. Do not let an insurer pressure you into settling prior to your recovery. Instead, let an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney commence negotiations to get you a settlement that covers both current and future losses.

  1. They intentionally drag out your case

When the claims process begins, you might run into one delay after another. The reasons provided will vary but when an insurer delays your claim they are hoping for one of two things:

  • You will be so desperate for money due to medical bills, lost wages, and other financial pressures that you will jump at the first offer
  • The statute of limitations for filing your case will expire, leaving them in the clear

Don’t let this happen to you. We can and will protect your right to fair compensation by refusing to let the insurer drag things out.

If you have been injured by a negligent driver in Missouri, contact Ryan R. Cox & Associates. We will refuse to let you be taken advantage of by self-serving insurance companies and keep fighting for you until you get the settlement or award you are entitled to. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us or call 636-946-6886 today.

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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