A car accident causes many stresses – car repairs, medical bills, physical recovery, and more. Louisiana requires drivers to have liability insurance to guarantee injured victims have the resources to meet these challenges. Unfortunately, the same insurance companies often resort to common tricks in an attempt to save money.
Louisiana statutes require that insurers settle their policy holders’ claims fairly. But if you are making a claim against the policy of another driver, you are considered a “third-party claimant” and the statutory duties do not apply to you. Here are some tricks to watch out for during your insurance claim process.
1. Demand a recorded statement
The insurance adjuster will likely tell you that you must participate in a recorded conversation or give a recorded statement. If you were making a claim under your own policy, this may be true but as a third party claimant, it is not; you have the right to refuse. Better yet, if you retain an attorney then you can instruct the insurance company to direct all communication through him or her.
2. Request an authorization for medical records
Your medical records are confidential and protected until you sign a release. It is true that at some point in the process, you may need to give the insurance company the authority to review these – but it is not always necessary. They are looking for ways to minimize your claim, such as by painting your injury as a preexisting condition. Speak with a lawyer before granting this kind of access so that you have a better opportunity to control how and how much private information is shared.
3. Rush a settlement
A claim settlement will include a release agreement which will state that the settlement is final and that the claimant cannot bring any other claims related to the incident. If the insurance adjuster can coax you into accepting a rushed settlement, perhaps with the assurance that you will be able to pay your medical bills as soon as possible and have a few bucks left over for yourself, they will also ensure that you sign away the right to pursue any other claim you might have, even if you do not know about it yet (like a future medical treatment). Always consult with counsel before signing an agreement, because you may be forever giving up crucial rights.
4. Insist that you do not need a lawyer
The insurance adjusters know that when a lawyer is involved, they will pay more on the claim. The adjuster will often tell you that if you retain a lawyer, you will simply have to share your settlement so why bother? In reality, studies show that claimants represented by counsel recover a greater settlement and the difference more than makes up for any legal fee. Do not help the insurance company by giving up your right to representation.
Speak with a Louisiana accident lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident, call a Louisiana car accident lawyer before falling for any of the insurance company’s tricks. Bart Bernard is dedicated to holding big businesses and negligent individuals accountable. He has offices in both Lafayette and Baton Rouge for your convenience and all representation is offered on a contingency basis, so you never pay a fee unless we win money for you.
Additional LA Insurance Settlement Resources:
- Louisiana Department of Insurance, Consumer’s Guide to Auto Insurance, https://www.ldi.la.gov/docs/default-source/documents/publicaffairs/consumerpublications/auto-insurance-guide.pdf?sfvrsn=33
- Louisiana State Legislature, RS 22:1892 Payment and adjustment of claims, policies other than life and health and accident; personal vehicle damage claims; extension of time to respond to claims during emergency or disaster; penalties; arson-related claims suspension, https://legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?d=509041
- Louisiana State Legislature, RS 22:1973 Good faith duty; claims settlement practices; cause of action; penalties, https://legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?d=509087