Accidents and Insurance Adjusters

Each day you can read in the paper about another serious automobile accident, plane crash, or other similar type of injury. Many times these accidents are the result of another person’s failure to pay attention or follow the rules of the road or like rules. In most cases if you are injured because of another person’s neglect, you will be confronted with the possibility of dealing with an insurance adjuster. You should understand that dealing with an insurance adjuster differs depending on the injury. Take for example an automobile accident where you injure yourself and another car is not involved. In that instance you will be drawing from your own insurance policy and your adjuster has a duty to deal with you fairly and not as an adversary. In other words, the adjuster should not be acting as an adversary to you in the claim. In other cases where you get injured by another driver, where you get injured on some one’s property, or suffer a harm due to an other’s carelessness, the other person’s insurance adjuster is going to be your adversary. This is worth repeating. When you have a claim of any type against another person, the insurance or claim adjuster for the person who caused your injury is your adversary. This means no matter how nice he or she may act with you on the phone or in person, the adjuster is trying to present the claim in the best position for their boss, the insurance company. The adjuster wants to make sure the company pays as litter money as possible and no money if possible! The only way that can happen is if the adjuster investigates the claim and develops the facts against you or your injury.

So the question is: “What do you do if you suffer a serious injury due to another person’s carelessness or failure to follow rules of the road?” First, I am going to assume that anytime you are injured you will take immediate steps to seek medical attention. This means taking the time to go to a doctor. You must following up with the doctor and follow the doctor’s recommended treatment. Let me stop here and mention something to you. Our lawyers have been in case after case where people get seriously hurt and when they go to the doctor, and the doctor walks into the room and asks “how are you today,” the person says “I’m fine.” Obviously the injured person does not mean he or she is fine as it relates their injuries; they mean “fine” as a form of greeting. We all use this expression. The doctor will often go back and write in the report, “…saw patient today and he is ‘fine’.” In the past we have been interviewing a client who is seriously hurt, looking at their permanent injuries and then read in medical records that they reported to the doctor that they were “fine.” When we asked the client about the statement, they never intended to say to the doctor that they felt fine from all their injuries. Let me say this very clearly: You should never exaggerate your injuries. Juries are smart people. If you fake an injury, the jury will see it and you will be punished by them. You will not take a case if we think a person has exaggerated their injuries. But on the other hand you should not make light of your injuries. The doctor has to know how you feel and what hurts, when it hurts, and how often it hurts. All of this is necessary for the proper diagnosis and treatment. Doctors make written records of your complaints to them of pain. They also make reports of what you say to them. The only way anyone is going to know if you reported a complaint of pain or a serious physical limitation is if you report it accurately to the doctor. If your doctor is not interested in these pain complaints, or he fails to properly document them, then you should probably find a new doctor.

Okay, let’s return to the serious injury and the claims adjuster. When you are hurt in an accident and it is due to another person, you need to know how to protect yourself from the other person’s claim adjuster. Our recommendations are that you not talk to the claim adjuster until after you have sought legal advice on the accident and your rights. Many times accidents are not clear cut or the facts can have two different conclusions. If you talk to an adjuster before you get legal advice, then you may say something that hurts your case before you know all the facts. Keep in mind that claims adjusters usually have lots of experience and they are in that position because they are good at their jobs. They also know a little about the law and what facts they need to look for to help their boss, the insurance company. You need someone trained in fact investigation and trained in the law to be on your side. Otherwise, if you try to go against the adjuster it would be like walking into a boxing ring for 15 rounds with a professional heavy weight boxer.

The next thing you need to know is you should not give the medical adjuster a “blanket medical release” so he can obtain your medical records. The medical records that an adjuster obtains should always be relevant to the injuries you sustain. I have seen cases where injured people gave medical releases to the opposing adjuster that had no limit. The adjuster was then free to collect all of the injured person’s medical history, even though the records were not related to the injury. In our opinion you should never give an adjuster a medical release. In every serious injury case the medical bills should be provided through the legal process and not through the adjuster. There is one final thing you should know when dealing with insurance adjusters. Insurance adjusters are not the same as insurance sales agents. The sales agents, the polite men and women who sell insurance policies, do not investigate and adjust claims. The insurance adjuster is an agent of the company. When you are seriously injured the adjuster is going to be working hard to protect his boss, which is the insurance corporation. The adjuster is going to be taking pictures of the scene, interviewing witnesses, and collecting evidence. When you don’t have an experienced lawyer helping you, then you are going up against a person whose sole desire is to save the insurance company money, even if it costs you money. What I have said to you does not mean that insurance adjusters are bad or evil people. They are people who work for an insurance company and their loyalty is to the insurance company. If you think about it, why go up against a trained insurance adjuster without a skilled, experienced lawyer helping you.

If you know of someone who has been seriously injured or killed in an accident call the offices of Coxwell & Associates. We represent clients in the Jackson area, and we travel all over the state of Mississippi. We handle auto accidents, 18 wheeler accident or big rig accidents, boating and motorcycle accidents, brain injury and spinal injury cases, accidents on property that cause serious injuries, accidents caused by drunken drivers, and other types of accidents.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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