You were injured in a car accident by a negligent driver. You believe because you have been paying your premiums every month, have always been a safe driver, and you are a reasonable person who is not asking to receive more than what is fair that the insurance company you are dealing with is going to treat you fairly. You are about to find out, however, that you are wrong. Insurance companies are in the business of collecting as much premiums as they can and then paying out as little in claims as possible. An insurance company’s goal is to get your injury claim resolved quickly – many times right after an accident when you do not know the full extent of your damages – and to pay as little as possible to you. They will act like they are your best friend and listen to your story (all the while recording it and hoping you will say something against your interest). We have compiled a list of some of the top excuses that the personal injury lawyers at Foster Wallace have heard from insurance adjusters for attempting to pay injured car accident victims in the Kansas City-area less than fair value for their claim. Chances are if you were in a accident and have been dealing an unreasonable adjuster, you likely have heard one of these excuses:
1. “You didn’t go and see a doctor immediately after the accident.”
It is important that after an accident you seek medical attention even if you do not feel immediate injuries. A lot of the time, injuries take time to develop. One of our lawyers has been rear-ended by a negligent driver once and the pain started the day after the accident. This was likely because adrenaline can take over and hide the pain you are experiencing. A lot of the time injuries sustained from a car accident take time to manifest as well. We hear the argument all the time from adjusters that because the victim did not go to the hospital fast enough after the accident, they should not have to compensate the victim. Expert testimony from any medical provider can easily dispel this argument.
2. “There was a huge gap in time between your doctor or chiropractor visits.”
We see this one a lot. Our personal injury client gets treatment for his or her injuries and then tries doing some physical therapy or self-help treatment at home but things don’t get better and then they start seeing a chiropractor again. The insurance adjuster usually argues that the chiropractic care came too late and the treatment could not possibly be related to the accident. Insurance companies will use any gaps in treatment to argue that the treatment is not related to the accident.
3. “You told us after the accident that you did not believe you were seriously injured.”
If you were injured in a car accident but did not begin experiencing serious injuries until a few days after the accident, the insurance company will try to use a statement you gave them immediately after the accident against you or use it during settlement talks to put doubt in your mind about what your case is worth or to undermine your credibility. It is always important to not say too much to the other driver’s insurance company after an accident as they are trying to get you to say a statement against your interest (without you knowing it).
4. “There is no way your injuries could be related to the accident”
Many times adjusters will argue that there’s no possible way the injuries could be related to the accident based on how the accident occurred. We have heard “there’s no way the right shoulder could be affected when you were hit on the left side” after our client suffered a rotator cuff injury. In that case, we could prove that our client’s arm/shoulder hit the console at impact, causing the damages to his shoulder. He had in fact torn his rotator cuff because of the car accident and after we were able to show the causal relation, the insurance company made a policy limits offer of $100,000.00.
5. “You were ticketed by the police officer for your role in the accident.”
We have had clients who were ticketed during the accident for “failure to yield” and the other driver’s adjuster used that against our client to deny a claim. This does not mean you do not have a claim for your injuries. First, the police officer may be going off incorrect information when he or she issued the ticket. Second, even if you were somewhat at fault for an accident, you can still recover damages in Missouri and in Kansas (as long as the other driver was 51% or more at fault. Last, just because you were ticketed does not mean you were at fault at all and we can help prove that. In a recent case, our client was ticketed for “failing to yield” when she was hit trying to cross the street. We quickly sent a letter to the other driver asking her that we wanted to analyze her car’s data. We hired an expert that was able to show that she was actually going nearly ten miles above the speed limit and hit the brake less than a second before impact. The other driver’s insurance company ended up paying our client the policy limits.
6. “You must be the worst driver in the world – you are always getting into accidents.”
Just because you were in prior car accidents is not a reason to limit your damages that you are entitled to in this accident. Some people have bad luck – the insurance adjuster has to deal with this fact.
7. “Seems like this was a road rage incident.”
Insurance policies will usually exclude cases involving intentional acts or “road rage.” An insurance adjuster may use the argument to protect itself for paying damages that their insured caused. An insurance adjuster may use this to put doubt in your mind about your claim. You do need to contact a lawyer because your attorney may look at your own insurance policy (assuming you have uninsured coverage) to make a claim. Your insurance coverage should treat it like a “hit and run” claim.
8.“It is your word versus the word of our insured and I trust the insured.”
While having witnesses to the accident can bolster your claim, there are other ways we at Foster Wallace use to prove that a car accident wasn’t your fault including using experts or download certain data from the cars at issue, video and photo surveillance, and physical damages to the cars itself (including looking at any skid marks).
9. “The medical bills were all for diagnostic treatment.”
Insurance adjusters will claim that your medical bills are just high because you had all these tests run but it was found your injuries were not too serious. You should still be compensated for all the tests that your doctors had to do to try to determine what was causing your pain.
10.“You mentioned you were somewhat at fault after the accident by apologizing to our insured.”
It is not uncommon to apologize after an accident even if you were not at fault. If you said “sorry” at all, the insurance adjuster will use that against you to discredit your case and put some blame on you. This is something that we believe our clients can explain away to a jury.
11. “We do not know who is responsible for the accident and it may have been you.”
This is an excuse your own insurance company may use if you try to submit an uninsured motorist claim for your injuries. This argument may be made when you were involved in a hit and run accident. If you were, hopefully you immediately called the police and they came to the scene so you can better document what happened.
12. “There isn’t a Police Report. Where is it?”
Sometimes people do not end up calling the police when there was a car accident that involved minimal property damage. Because a Police Report is hearsay, however, it is not critical for your case as it likely cannot be used in a trial to prove your case but it is helpful for your lawyers to understand who the players in the accident were and how the officer believed the accident occurred. You can still obtain recovery if the police were not notified and there is no police report. You can always report the accident to the police after the fact by walking into the police department and drafting up a statement. Even if you did not call the police and there is no police report, we hope you called your insurance company and the other driver's insurance company very quickly after the accident to let them know about the incident.
13. “You were over-treated for your injuries.”
Oftentimes the insurance company will say the medical care you got was excessive and not related to your injuries. Or they may argue the provider you went to kept seeing you to increase your medical bills. An insurance adjuster is not the best person to determine whether your treatment was necessary or not. Follow your providers orders and do not listen to the adjuster. The insurance company has doctors, however, that they frequently use to argue that you should have healed sooner or that treatment should be considered only for up to a certain time period.
14. “The injuries you are claiming from the accident are actually from a prior condition or injury.”
Pre-existing conditions can affect the value of your personal injury claim depending on how the pre-existing condition relates to your new injuries and what your doctors say about it. If you had a pre-existing condition, and then you were injured by the negligence of another driver, you certainly need to consult with an attorney before pursuing a claim.
15. “Your version of the facts is different than what I’m hearing from others. I wonder how credible your story is.”
Do not allow an insurance company to interrogate you based on your memory of time, speed and/or distance, especially if you are giving a statement immediately after the accident. An insurance adjuster will likely put doubt in your mind by discrediting your story in an attempt to minimize the damages you believe are recoverable in your case.
16. “You missed multiple doctor’s appointments after the accident.”
Just because you missed some of your doctor’s appointments after the accident does not mean that you do not have a claim for your injuries but insurance adjusters will use it to show that your injuries are not as severe as you are letting on. You can rebut this but please do not make it a habit of missing appointments.
17. “Your injuries are subjective and limited to soft tissue injuries.”
This is one that insurance adjusters will use often to discredit your story and your injuries. Just because your injuries are soft tissue and/or subjective does not mean your injuries are not real. While insurance companies tend to offer more money for more serious injuries than soft tissue injuries you should still and can be fairly compensated for soft tissue injuries.
18. “You were somewhat at-fault for the accident.”
Insurance companies will often argue that you were somehow at fault for the accident and that your damages should be discounted. It is smart to get an attorney involved if that is the case. In Kansas, if the other driver was found by a jury to be more than 50% at fault then you may still recover. In Missouri, you can recover damages even if you were 90% at fault. However, in both Kansas and Missouri, your damages are decreased by the amount you would be deemed at fault by a jury. Just because you were somewhat at-fault doesn’t mean you cannot recover damages from the other driver’s insurance company (or your own in an underinsured or uninsured claim).
19. “The pictures of the cars after the accident suggest minimal damage”
Do not be forced into dismissing your claim because the insurance company suggests your property damage was not severe. We have seen multiple cases where cars were not totaled but the injuries were very serious. Adjusters will place doubt in your mind about your case because the cars were not totaled. We have seen serious injuries occur even when the damages to both the cars were not substantial.
20. “You were not wearing a seatbelt.”
While both Kansas and Missouri state law requires that everyone in a vehicle be buckled up, you should never assume you cannot recover damages if you didn’t have a seat belt on when a negligent driver hit you.
21. “You were somewhat at fault for driving too fast.”
Even if you were ticketed during the accident for speeding that does not mean you are barred from recovery. You still need to talk to an attorney about your options and understand that you can still be compensated even if you were somewhat at fault in both Kansas and Missouri. In Missouri, you can still recover damages from an accident even if a jury found you were 99% at fault for the accident (though your damages would be decreased by 99%). In Kansas, however, you have to prove the other driver was more than 50% at fault for the accident. If a jury finds you both 50% at fault for the accident, neither driver will be able to recover from the other driver.
22. “When you got in the accident, you were talking on your cell phone.”
There aren’t any laws restricting you talking on the phone in Kansas and Missouri while driving. There are, however, laws on texting while driving. Even if you were talking on your phone when the accident occurred, you can still recover compensation for your injuries.
23. “We have not been able to get ahold of our insured and need to talk to him or her first.”
It is understandable that the insurance company will want to hear the other side of the story from its own insured. But you still need to move forward on your claim while they try to get ahold of their insured (they usually do find him or her as the insurance company has every resource in the world).
24. “You could have avoided the collision.”
Insurance companies are known to use this excuse when their insured is clearly at-fault. They will use this excuse to try to put doubt in your mind about what you are entitled to get to drive down damages they will have to pay.
25. “You left the scene of an accident without taking an ambulance.”
For many reasons this argument that an insurance adjuster may make can be dismissed. For one, because of the shot of adrenaline you likely experienced because of the accident you may believe you were actually in better shape than you actually were. Second, some people are worried about paying for an ambulance. An ambulance is not always necessary in a lot of cases. Many clients would rather have someone drive them to the emergency room or urgent care facility rather than go by ambulance.
26. “The police report indicates you suffered no injuries in the accident.”
Again, it is quite common for a person involved in a car accident that their injuries fail to manifest for some time after an accident. While it is important that you seek treatment after an accident, it is not critical. Adjusters often argue that you were not even hurt right after the accident you shouldn’t be compensated for your injuries. This argument can be refuted.
27. “Your file has been closed.”
This is simply a tactic the insurance company may use to hurry and/or pressure you into settling your claim as quickly as possible. This does not necessarily mean you missed a deadline to file a lawsuit in Kansas or Missouri. In Kansas, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit and in Missouri, you have five years to file a personal injury lawsuit. You have time to seek damages even if the adjuster claims your “file has been closed.”
28. “Your license was suspended.”
Insurance adjusters will argue that if you were driving with a suspended license then you cannot make an injury claim. While you may face a fine, further suspension, or other possible legal repercussions, it is possible that you may be able to make a recovery for damages you suffered as a result of the accident.
29. “You did not have valid auto insurance at the time you got into the accident.”
This is one where you need to talk to a car accident lawyer about your options. Many adjusters will argue if you did not have car insurance at the time of the accident, you are not entitled to noneconomic damages and will only pay you for your medical bills and lost wages. There have been recent Missouri trial court opinions (in both federal and state courts) that have struck down Missouri’s “No-Pay No-Play” statute codified in Missouri Statute § 303.390 as unconstitutional. That particular statute states that an uninsured driver waives the ability to collect noneconomic damages (pain and suffering damages) if they were injured in an accident absent some rare exceptions (like when the driver was intoxicated or was convicted of involuntary manslaughter).
30. “You did not tell your doctor you were very hurt.”
Sometimes the insurance company will argue that because you didn’t tell the healthcare provider you saw right after the accident that you weren’t badly hurt they cannot offer you much money. Again, sometimes injuries take time to manifest so this argument does not always hold water.
Our Kansas City Car Accident Lawyers Are Ready to Assist You Today
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Our personal injury attorneys takes all car accident injury cases on a contingency fee basis, allowing victims and family members throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area to get the legal help they need without adding to their financial burden. If you or someone you love was injured in a crash, call our office today or fill out our online contact form to set up your free initial consultation.