If you are injured by another person’s negligence– in a traffic collision or any other type of accident – as soon as you have obtained medical treatment, you must contact an experienced New Orleans car accident attorney.
If you have been injured because someone else was negligent, the law in Louisiana entitles you to complete compensation for your accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more. But what does it take to win the compensation that you are entitled to?
HOW DOES AN INSURANCE COMPANY’S INVESTIGATION BEGIN?
As soon as a personal injury claim is filed with an insurance company, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to the case, and that adjuster will begin scrutinizing the details of your claim.
The insurance adjuster is responsible for investigating the case, determining what the insurance company believes your claim is worth, and negotiating a settlement.
If you are filing a “third-party” claim with the company that insures the negligent party who injured you, probably the first thing that an adjuster will do upon receiving the claim is to interview the policyholder – that is, the person allegedly liable for causing your personal injury.
The adjuster will also want a copy of any official records generated by the accident – such as the police report – if you were injured in a traffic collision.
WHAT ELSE WILL AN ADJUSTER DO TO INVESTIGATE A CLAIM?
An adjuster’s first response to a claimant is usually a letter that explains what the specific insurance policy in question provides. The letter will also request from the claimant documents such as hospital bills, medical test results, and proof of property damages and other losses.
But that is only the beginning of a claims adjuster’s investigation. When you file a third-party insurance claim, the adjuster who gets the case will want to know exactly who you are and how the amount you are seeking can be reduced.
An adjuster will probably check your name against insurance claims databases to learn if you have any history of filing insurance claims. An adjuster will probably also look at your Facebook and Twitter accounts to see if anything “useful” to the insurance company can be learned there.
WHEN YOU FILE A CLAIM, HOW SHOULD YOU DEAL WITH SOCIAL MEDIA?
What could be posted on your Facebook page that an insurance company might find useful?
If you tell an insurance company that you were injured in a traffic collision, but your Facebook page shows that you were playing softball the next day – or that you fell off a ladder the day before – an insurance adjuster will have evidence that might be used to deny your claim entirely.
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, do not post anything online – and don’t remove anything that’s already there – until you have discussed the case and your rights with your personal injury lawyer.
A claims adjuster will need to see your medical records if you are making a personal injury claim, and these records can be decisive. If you file a third-party personal injury claim, the adjuster will probably send you a request for your authorization to obtain your medical records.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU COOPERATE WITH AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER?
Don’t sign any authorization without first consulting your accident attorney. You could be signing away rights or agreeing to something that will hurt your claim. Your attorney will explain precisely what is being requested and whether or not you should agree to it.
A claims adjuster also usually asks an injury victim to make a “formal” audio or video statement about the accident, how it happened, and how it has impacted your life. Don’t do it – until you’ve spoken with your attorney.
After a claims adjuster has asked all of the questions and examined all of the documents and other evidence, the adjuster will determine what the insurance company is willing to pay for the claim.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF?
What else should you be aware of when an insurance company investigates your claim? New Orleans personal injury attorney Chip Cossé says, “Here are some of the things I’ve dealt with over the years” – investigator’s tactics that include:
1. Video surveillance: Video surveillance results in an invasion of privacy and when we subpoena the investigator’s billing records … they’ll deliberately withhold something that they try to spring on you in a mediation or trial.
2. Gathering of old medical records: They’ll try to say anything that the client is claiming as an injury to be pre-existing from some random, one-time thing that happened 10 years before.
3. Getting the client’s driving record: If there was a moving violation or past accident, the insurance company will try to claim the client is a bad driver and must somehow be at least partially responsible for the accident.
4. If there is a lost wage claim, they’ll get tax returns and employment records to show that a person either didn’t pay taxes or received cash, etc. to gain leverage by threatening to notify the IRS.
5. Doing a claims search to see how many personal injury claims they’ve had. If they’ve had more than one, they’ll try to paint him as a ‘professional plaintiff’ or ‘living off of lawsuits.’
6. Going on a witch hunt by trying to depose relatives to verify if the person is really that hurt.
7. (This one is the biggest) Stalking their social media sites: If they’re not private, that’s the first and most cost-effective thing they do. Not only will they look at the client’s pages, but also their friends to see if they’ve been tagged.”
WHO SHOULD HANDLE YOUR CASE IF YOU’VE BEEN INJURED?
If you have been injured, your attorney should answer all of the adjuster’s questions and handle any negotiations on your behalf.
If you were not injured, but you sustained damage to your vehicle or other property damages in an accident, it will probably be more expedient to handle the matter on your own. Vehicles come and go, but your health and your future are too important to risk.
Anyone injured by another person’s negligence in this state should reach out immediately to a Louisiana personal injury lawyer for legal guidance and representation. You should refer any questions or inquiries from the insurance company to your attorney.
WHEN SHOULD YOU ACCEPT AN INSURANCE COMPANY’S OFFER?
If you negotiate directly with an insurance company for property damages, you will probably want to reject the insurance company’s first offer. Why?
The first settlement offer from an insurance company is typically a very low offer. If you choose to negotiate for a more reasonable settlement, you will need receipts and any other pertinent documents to support your claim and to prove that the amount you are seeking is appropriate.
Don’t let any insurance company intimidate you. Negotiating for an adequate settlement of a property damage claim is your right. If the company’s first offer is not sufficient, negotiate. You will probably find that the claims adjuster is customer-oriented and professional.
When the evidence backs up your claim, you will likely receive the compensation that you need to replace or repair your vehicle or other damaged property.
Usually, if you have a straightforward property claim instead of a complicated personal injury case, your claim can be quickly processed and paid.
HOW CAN AN ACCIDENT ATTORNEY HELP?
If an insurance company avoids its responsibility to you when you negotiate a property damage claim, get some legal advice from a skilled accident lawyer.
You may have a “bad faith” claim against the insurance company, but such cases are rare, and most consumers have no trouble negotiating a property damage claim without an attorney’s help.
However, if you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, everything changes, and you are very much going to need an accident lawyer’s advice and assistance. It’s your right to seek and have that help, and if your injuries are serious, your future could depend on it.