After practicing 20 years in Virginia (VA) in the field of car and truck accident law, I have seen how all of the insurance companies play games when people have been hurt on the road in a car crash. It does not matter whether it is State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, GEICO, Progressive, USAA or The Hartford. They all try these stunts when they can:
1. "You don’t need a lawyer." The reason they say this is that they do not want you, the injured person, to hire an attorney. If you find out all of what your rights are by getting counsel, then the insurer is going to have to pay more. If you hire an attorney, that means they have already lost control of you and that you will have equal information and power by having someone on your side who knows how the insurance and accident system works.
2. Delay, delay, delay. The claim representative for the insurance company will often be very hard to get on the phone. When you do manage to reach them, the insurer may well say that they are still investigating the accident and have not made a decision yet as to whether their driver was at fault in causing the wreck. If they can slow you down by preventing you from getting a rental car and being able to get to the doctor, it saves them money. The insurance companies also hope that you will give up some of your rights to get medical help and lessen the value of your case. The longer they hold onto the money that they owe you, the more interest the insurance company will make in the long run.
3. Pump you for information to use against you. The insurance company will demand that you give them a recorded statement. The purpose of the recorded statement is to gather information by which they can defeat your potential lawsuit or reduce how much money they will have to pay you on your injury claim. They will not tell you that you do not have to give a recorded statement to them, the adverse insurance company for the at-fault driver who hit you with his car. They will not tell you that under Virginia law, you have an absolute right to get a copy of any recorded statement that they took from you. The insurance agent is hoping that by close questioning they can show that their driver was not negligent or that maybe something you did may have contributed to cause the accident so they can get off the hook. At a minimum, they want to find out what they can to try to get out of paying for your doctor and hospital bills by trying to establish that maybe you had been in a prior car wreck or had a prior health problem, or any other excuse they can use to say the bad driving of their insured did not cause your injuries.
The answer to avoiding these tricks of the insurance game after a car accident is to hire a competent, experienced attorney as soon as possible. That attorney will then help you to cut through the red tape and inform you of your rights. Personal injury attorneys, like my law firm, do not charge anything for the initial consultation and do not require up-front retainers. Rather, we get paid out of the increased money that we obtain for you from the insurance company.