In 2018 there were 319,146 car crashes on Illinois roads. Depending on how severe a collision is, victims often suffer injuries that put them in the hospital, racking up medical bills and sometimes resulting in lost wages due to missing work. After the accident, victims of negligent drivers have the often frustrating inconvenience of dealing with the other party’s insurance company. When most people get into a car crash, they’re likely not aware of the predatory nature of some auto insurance companies, or the fact that there’s a high risk of claims adjusters taking advantage of their situation. Unfortunately, many Illinois drivers have no idea about the insurance claim adjuster secret tactics used to avoid compensating victims for the injuries they’ve suffered.
Unless you’re well-versed in personal injury claims, the best way to avoid this is to have a personal injury lawyer representing and protecting you. Attorneys specializing in this area have spent years representing clients in this exact situation, so we know all the common tricks and tactics used by adjusters. The best advice we can give you is to seek legal representation, starting with coming to a free consultation. But if you’re still deciding whether you want to hire a personal injury lawyer, we want you to be aware of their tactics to avoid falling victim to them.
1. Requesting a recorded statement
Asking you to make an on-the-record statement right away is a common insurance claim adjuster secret tactic. They try to catch you saying something that might paint you as partially at fault, even if they know you weren’t. Adjusters ask leading and manipulative questions that get you to say things you’re unaware you shouldn’t say, and then use it to dispute your claim.
Denying liability is a manipulation tactic designed to bait you into admitting fault, or at least partial fault.
Sometimes insurance claims adjusters will straight up deny that their insured driver was at fault. Denying liability is a manipulation tactic designed to bait you into admitting fault, or at least partial fault. They may even try to claim that a third party was actually liable, essentially shifting the blame and responsibility. You may be able to get past their gaslighting attempts unscathed if you’re prepared for it, but it’s hard to fight off this kind of questioning if you are uninformed. Accident victims are often in a vulnerable state, having just been through a traumatic experience, medical treatment, and the added stress of paying future bills on their minds. Don’t put it past insurance companies to take advantage of that.
3. Giving you a low-ball settlement offer
Adjusters will undermine the value of your claim and the severity of your injuries by offering you a low settlement offer that does not cover the extent of your injuries. Adjusters often use delay tactics to stretch out the process and intentionally wear on your patience. They are taking advantage of the fact that you likely want a quick settlement process to move on from the trauma of the accident. The idea is to wear you down into accepting a low settlement amount when in reality, you deserve more.
4. Giving you a false deadline
Another tactic used to trick you into accepting a low-ball settlement offer is when adjusters tell you you have to accept the offer by a specific deadline. In reality, this is just an arbitrary deadline that you do not have to accept. It’s a scare tactic designed to make you think you have to accept that offer before the deadline. But especially if you’re still receiving medical treatment, you are not obligated to accept their offer.
5. Requesting unnecessary documentation
This is a common delay tactic. Although you are not obligated to provide irrelevant medical information for an accident claim, adjusters sometimes ask for old medical documents or other unnecessary documents to delay a resolution to the claim.
Once they get their hands on medical records, it will only hurt your case. Adjusters use past medical records against you by claiming that the medical treatment you had was due to a pre-existing condition or old injury, and not a result of the accident. That’s why providing documents without the advice of a lawyer first is a big no-no.
6. Downplaying the extent of your injuries
This is another gaslighting tactic that is often done by questioning the medical treatment you received. They will absolutely try to convince you that you are exaggerating your injuries and invalidate the traumatizing experience you’ve been through. Claims adjusters are not medical professionals, but they take advantage of their perceived authority by questioning car accident victims about treatments that may have saved their lives. Expect them to come with this approach and stand your ground.
7. Trying to convince you not to seek legal advice
If you mention seeking legal advice to an insurance claim adjuster, they will discourage you. They know that once you have representation, their tactics won’t work with your case because attorneys are skilled at combating them. They will literally tell you almost anything to stop you from getting a personal injury attorney and if they succeed, you are far less likely to get the compensation you deserve.
8. Saying they’re on your side
If the insurance adjuster representing the at-fault party tells you in any way that they’re trying to help you or acts like they’re your friend, they’re lying. Their loyalty first and foremost is to their company and to the negligent party, so this is just a manipulation tactic to make you feel like you’re in good hands. Any assertion of working for your benefit is not only false but also contradictory to their job description. If they try to convince you not to seek legal representation because they claim they’ll take care of you, do not fall for it.
How to deal with secret tacticsEven if it seems like a lot of money and you feel inclined to accept the offer, don’t fall for it.
What not to say to the insurance adjuster of personal injury:
- Don’t give an on-record statement. You’re not obligated to give a statement, despite how adjusters might make it seem. If you’re planning on obtaining legal representation, tell them you don’t want to make any statements until you’ve talked to your lawyer.
- Don’t accept the first settlement offer. Even if it seems like a lot of money and you feel inclined to accept the offer, don’t fall for it. What may seem like a lot of money is always a lowball offer, and not enough to cover the full extent of your medical bills or lost wages. Since it’s a standard industry practice for insurance companies to do everything they can to avoid fully giving you a fair settlement, the first offer never covers the full damages and pain and suffering you’ve endured.
- Don’t provide irrelevant medical records. Old records could give them something to use against you, and you are under no obligation to share medical records from years ago.
- Stick to your story. Don’t let them convince you that the medical treatment you received was unnecessary or downplay your injuries. Don’t offer up any unnecessary or extra details that could be used against you.
- Don’t trust their efforts to make nice. This is definitely not the time to let your guard down. It is not in their interest to help you get a fair settlement, even if they say they’re trying to help you. If adjusters are being friendly, be cautious and don’t take their guidance as the ultimate authority on personal injury claims.
- Hire an experienced attorney. This one may be a bit obvious, but it’s truly the most effective antidote to use against insurance claim adjuster secret tactics. As soon as adjusters are informed that you have a lawyer, they will stop using these tactics on you because they know we won’t fall for it.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Many car crash victims can have a lengthy and painful road to recovery with overwhelming medical expenses, loss of wages, and/or permanent disability. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle crash, there are various State of Illinois laws that can help you receive compensation. Please contact the law firm of Palermo Law Group at (630) 684-2332 for a free consultation with nationally recognized car accident lawyer, Mario Palermo, regarding the best approach to the legal issue of obtaining compensation for your injuries.