How Will the Insurance Company Try to Prove I Was at Fault for an Accident?

No matter how friendly their commercials may seem, no insurance company is on your side after a car accident. One common defense is they may try their hardest to devalue or deny your claim by asserting you were partly or totally at fault, and given Virginia’s pure contributory negligence laws, they always examine whether they can blame your actions as a partial cause of the incident. They may spin the details of your accident or even use your own words against you. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from learning about your legal options. Fault for a car accident is not always as it appears, so never assume you share a portion of the liability without first speaking with an experienced Virginia Beach car accident attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. If you were injured in a car accident, you can schedule a free consultation during which we will review the facts of your accident and determine if we can represent you in your claim for compensation.  

No Recorded or Signed “Statements” of What Happened

The first and most important thing to know even before you hire one of our personal injury attorneys is that you should not give a claims adjuster a recorded statement nor should you sign a statement. The reasons are simple: claims adjusters are trained to get these types of statements and use them against you later in the case. And it’s pretty tricky: you’re not trained to understand exactly what they’re looking for and how to avoid their traps. When you talk about how the accident happened the adjuster wants to figure out any possible way they could say you contributed, maybe you’re uncertain about your exact speed at the time of the crash, or maybe you weren’t sure of the exact distance at which you first saw the at-fault driver’s car as you approached an intersection, there can be a wide spectrum of details that they could use against you later. We always advise our clients to never give a recorded or signed statement to the insurance company for the other person or company that they believe was at fault.

The Insurance Company Will Attack Your Character

It is common practice for insurance adjusters to act helpful and concerned during the early part of the claims process. This tactic is meant to convince you to drop your guard and say something that could potentially damage your claim. If this doesn’t work, they might become increasingly aggressive and begin attacking your character later, especially if your case goes to the lawsuit phase because no early settlement can be achieved. Often, when monetary negotiations begin, adjusters may say that your own negligence contributed to the accident. Examples include:  

  • If you were coming from a restaurant, bar, or friend’s house when the accident occurred, they might allege that you had been drinking  
  • You were under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs  
  • Your vehicle was not properly maintained
  • You were distracted by your phone when the accident took place 

They Will Ask Leading Questions

Insurance adjusters frequently ask questions that are worded in such a way that it is easy to accidentally say something that hurts your claim. When talking to an adjuster, it is crucial to be mindful of what you say and state only factual information. To help protect your claim, it is best to let your lawyer handle any communication with the insurer. 

Examples of some leading questions asked by insurance adjusters include: 

  • Was the other vehicle already in the intersection when you hit it?
  • Do you feel any of your driving actions contributed to the accident?
  • When did you see the stop sign?
  • Did you have any alcohol-containing beverages in the hour or two before the crash?

The Insurance Company Will Claim Your Injuries Were Pre-Existing

An adjuster might also claim that you weren’t really hurt in the accident. They may try to ascribe your injuries to a pre-existing condition resulting from a prior workers’ compensation accident, prior car accident, or a medical condition such as arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Keep in mind that, even if you were previously injured, you might still be eligible to collect financial compensation. You will, however, need to show that the injuries you sustained in the current accident are unrelated to the injuries you already have or that your injuries led to the aggravation or worsening of an existing medical problem. 

They Will Ask You to Sign a Medical Release Form

Having access to your complete medical history will make it much easier for the insurance company to deny your claim by citing a pre-existing injury.  In order to get a hold of your medical records, they may attempt to sneak a medical release form into a stack of other forms they need you to sign. A medical release form can go back years and disclose personal medical details that have absolutely nothing to do with your current accident. You should never sign any release forms or talk about an old injury or illness without first discussing it with one of our Virginia Beach car accident attorneys, we will disclose whatever information must be disclosed but can help you and your doctor make clear what symptoms you suffer now are new or are aggravations of a pre-existing medical condition as just one example.

You Don’t Have to Face the Insurance Company Alone

Insurance adjusters are trained to find any excuse to deny or devalue your injury claim. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, our Virginia Beach car accident attorneys have been helping clients build strong cases and recover full and fair financial compensation since 1985. One example is the $1.85 million wrongful death settlement we won for the family of a motorcycle rider who was struck and killed by a careless trucker. If you were injured through no fault of your own, we are here to help. Call (833) 997-1774 or fill out our quick online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our offices are located in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Portsmouth, and Norfolk.