R. Clarke Speaks
We cannot say it too often: insurance adjusters are not your pals. While they aren’t out to hurt you directly, their jobs—and their incomes—depend on giving you the smallest possible settlement. We are constantly telling clients who come to our North Carolina personal injury law firm for a consultation that they went too far in trusting the insurance claims agent, and their cases will suffer for that.
Here in North Carolina, Wilmington insurance claims agents have a whole bag of tricks they use to beguile and delude victims of North Carolina motor vehicle accidents into accepting an early, low settlement. The adjusters know they can usually take advantage of an inexperienced driver or passenger who has never been through the claims process before.
We hate to see insurance adjusters having a laugh at the expense of accident victims. Today, we’re going to warn you about three tricks that claims agents often use to manipulate crash victims.
The Low Offer Stall
The claims adjuster will give you a settlement offer early on, but warn you that the offer is only good for a limited time. When you reject the offer as too low, he challenges you to say what you think is fair. If you give him an answer, he promises to “talk to his people”—and then you never hear from him.
What’s really going on: The initial offer is too low, but if you are willing to take it, the adjuster wins. If he can persuade you to name a “fair price,” then he gains a victory: he has learned the top threshold of what he will have to give you, and he has learned you are eager to settle early before all your medical needs can be evaluated. The failure to get back to you is to make you nervous and willing to cut down on your demands. It also may allow him to ride out the statute of limitations on your claim, so that he can be sure you cannot file a lawsuit to collect the true settlement you deserve.
You finally get in touch with the insurance company again, only to be told your case has been reassigned to a new adjuster. She tells you “the paperwork from the other guy is in such a mess, we’d better start over from the beginning.” A few weeks later, your case might get “reassigned” again.
What’s really going on: You’re being played to lower your demand. Your new adjuster knows precisely what negotiations have accomplished so far. She has taken your case in order to delay your settlement again and put pressure on you to accept less. Is it working?
The “Look at the Chrome, Not the Chassis” Ploy
The adjuster meets with you and offers a few hundred dollars extra if you will settle right away. He tells you he’s willing to deal to get the case off the books, and to allow you to afford a luxury: “Hey, this way you can replace that old TV in the living room,” maybe, or “Buddy, you and your family need a break. This check could let you take the kids on a trip to Disney World next month.” You reach for the pen to sign the release.
What’s really going on: The extra $200 is just a pittance to the adjuster, and it’s not going to be enough in itself to afford a luxury purchase. By linking the payout to a specific purchase that you want, the adjuster is helping you forget that the settlement is supposed to pay for all your current and future medical expenses, your lost wages and future earnings, and all your other losses.
You Need Someone on Your Side
The insurance adjuster wins only because you don’t have enough information and experience on your side. As a first step, call the Speaks Law Firm today at (877) 593-4233 to get a FREE copy of The North Carolina Auto Injury Book. Reading it will give you an appreciation for what a fair settlement might be for your injuries.
When you really need help dealing with the insurance company, make an appointment for a free consultation with one of our Wilmington auto accident attorneys. Our legal team knows all the tricks insurance adjusters use. We can work with you to obtain every penny of compensation available, either by settling with the insurance company or by taking the company to court.
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