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Personal Injury Claim Settlement

How to Deal with Improper Auto Insurance Negotiation Tactics

In order to lower your personal injury claim settlement, often an auto insurance adjuster will resort to improper negotiation tactics.

Here are the most common ones used and how you should respond:

Implying Previous Injuries

Many auto insurance adjusters will try to lower your personal injury claim settlement by arguing that you have simply re-aggravated a pre existing injury.

However, the auto insurance adjuster is not qualified to make this argument. The insurance adjuster is not a medical doctor or an expert in how injuries can resurface. If there is nothing in your medical report or doctor's notes, which specifically link your current and previous injuries, the insurance adjuster has no case.

You should never let the auto insurance claim adjuster convince you which injuries are relevant and important. If the adjuster keeps insisting that these are resurfacing injuries, ask him or her to present medical proof that clearly shows this.

Otherwise you should maintain that your current injuries are a direct consequence of their insured's negligence and that you should be compensated.

No Out of Pocket Costs

Sometimes the insurance adjuster will argue that since your health care paid for your injuries or that your vacation/sick days covered your lost income, you really didn't pay anything. As a result, the insurance adjuster will convince you that since you have been already compensated for your injuries and lost wages, you shouldn't include them in your settlement claim.

To protect yourself from this tactic, you should use something called the "collateral source rule". The collateral source rule is a common law that basically states the insurance adjuster cannot use your alternate sources of medical payments and expenses as a reason to lower your car accident settlement. The basic idea of the collateral source rule is not to penalize you for taking precaution by getting medical insurance and working hard to earn your vacation days.

Your sources of payments for your injuries and expenses shouldn't even be discussed by the insurance adjuster.

If the adjuster even brings up the issue of other sources of medical payments and income, simply remind him or her of the collateral source rule. If the adjuster still insists, refuse to talk to them about this matter. Let the adjuster know any continuation of these questions will be considered bad faith settlement tactics and you will have to report them to their supervisor. That should shut them up quickly.

You Waited Too Long

If there was a delay between when your car accident occurred and when you actually filed your personal injury claim settlement, the auto insurance adjuster will argue that you waited too long to file a claim.

This is just a negotiating tactic to make you feel anxious, that your time is running out to get an adequate settlement. The result is that you will feel rushed to settle your claim quickly and be happy with a low settlement.

The only time limitation you should worry about, is the one set by your states Statute of Limitation to file an insurance claim. Each state has a different time period and most of them give you over a year to file your claim. For most personal injury claim settlement, this is more than enough time.

Here is a table of the Statute of Limitations to file your claim:

Injury Claims
Damage Claims
  State Personal
Injury Claims
Damage Claims

Alabama26 Montana3 2
Alaska2 6Nebraska 4 4
Arizona 2 2 Nevada 2 3
Arkansas 3 3 New Hampshire 3 3
California 2 3New Jersey26
Colorado22New Mexico 34
Connecticut3 2New York33
Delaware32North Carolina 33
District of Columbia33North Dakota6 6
Florida44 Ohio24
Georgia2 4Oklahoma22
Idaho2 3Pennsylvania22
Illinois25Rhode Island 310
Indiana2 6South Carolina3 3
Iowa25South Dakota 36
Kansas2 2Tennessee1 3
(Note: The Statutes of Limitations may change so double check on your state's website.)

The only way the adjuster can argue that you took too long to start your claim, is if the delay had somehow compromised the insurance company's ability to perform their investigation. For example the insurance company was unable to investigate the car accident scene or collect evidence.

This is almost never the case and you shouldn't let the insurance adjuster use this as a reason to lower your claim. If the adjuster asks why you waited too long, let them know what your reasons were.

Maybe you were too injured, there was a family emergency, or you needed to complete your medical treatment before you filed for your claim etc. Whatever you reason is, do not concede that you took an unreasonable amount of time to file your claim.

Bottom Line

Remember the adjuster's job is to give you less money. If they can plant some doubts in your head, about the strength of your personal injury claim settlement, you will believe your claim is worth less far less than what it should be.

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