Obtaining an insurance settlement is not always easy after an auto accident in Philadelphia. Insurance companies want to spend as little as possible – or nothing at all – to settle claims. An insurance claims adjuster could use many different tactics to dispute liability for an auto accident. If an insurer tries any of these strategies during your car accident case, contact a Philadelphia car accident attorney for assistance.
Comparative negligence is the assertion that you, the claimant, contributed to your own injuries through an act of negligence. The insurance company may try to allege that your own neglect to fulfill a duty caused the accident or exacerbated your injuries. For example, the insurer may try to argue that you worsened your injuries by delaying medical care.
If the insurance company succeeds in disputing liability through a comparative negligence defense, you may receive less money for your damages. Under Pennsylvania General Assembly Statute 7102, comparative negligence will reduce your compensatory award by an amount equal to your percentage of fault. You will still be eligible for partial recovery, however, as long as you were less than 51% responsible.
An insurance company may also try to avoid liability by claiming that your injuries were preexisting, or existed before the car accident. The insurer may try to prove that you had the injuries prior to the accident or that the crash did not cause the injuries in question. If you did have preexisting injuries, but the car accident exacerbated them, the insurance company could still owe you compensation. You or a Philadelphia injury attorney may have to prove the connection between your claimed injuries and the car accident through evidence such as medical records.
If you missed any important deadlines during the filing process, the insurance company could use this against you to dispute liability. If you waited weeks to file your initial insurance claim after the car accident, for example, this could give the insurer grounds to deny your claim. You must act quickly after a car accident in Philadelphia to initiate the claims process. Use an attorney to help you file your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit by the deadline and according to all applicable filing rules to avoid hurting your chances of securing a settlement.
A common tactic insurance providers use to refute liability is to assert that the plaintiff is unreliable. An insurance claims adjuster will ask you to give a recorded statement early on – sometimes as soon as the day of the car accident. Do not agree to give one. If you do, the insurance company could use it against you later. Your story might change as you learn more about your accident. The insurance company could compare your initial recorded statement with your current story and use the discrepancies to prove to a judge or jury that you are an unreliable witness. This could hurt your claim to damages.
The insurance company may allege insufficient evidence as a means to delay your settlement or avoid paying. It may request excessive amounts of evidence or documentation from you, such as medical records from your past that have nothing to do with your claimed injuries. If you need help gathering further evidence of fault or damages for an insurance claim, or if you believe the company is acting in bad faith, request assistance from a car accident attorney.
Bad Faith Tactics
Some insurance companies use bad faith tactics to dispute liability. Bad faith means the insurer is not treating the claim with the required amount of honesty, diligence and good faith. You could be a victim of insurance bad faith if the company denied your claim without reason or refused to offer a reasonable amount for your losses. If your lawyer finds evidence of bad faith, you could file an additional lawsuit against the insurance company. Contact a Philadelphia injury lawyer for help if an insurance company uses any method to dispute liability for your car accident or related injuries.