May 9, 2015 • By Dennis Beaver
“We are not your enemy,” Los Angeles-based Senior Claims Adjuster Kathryn tells You and the Law. In her 15 years as a bodily injury claims adjuster, she has learned, “If anything proves the old saying true — You get more flies with honey than with vinegar — working with a claims adjuster certainly does. In reality, most of us are incredibly overwhelmed and simply want to settle claims in a timely manner and at a fair amount.
“Dennis, I would like your readers to see that we need their help in reaching a fair settlement of their injury claim. Understanding the process, what matters, and what does not to an adjuster’s evaluation helps to keep blood pressure in the normal range,” she said, with a big smile.
Take photos – have reasonable treatment – be nice
The public generally does not have a good grasp of an adjuster’s complicated and essential role in bodily injury claims.
“Most people have no idea just how they can influence the outcome of their case — positively and negatively,” Kathryn points out, focusing attention on three important aspects of every auto accident case, which we summarize, and beginning with a practical use of our cellphones:
(1) Adjusters analyze causation – how the accident occurred–and resulting damage. Therefore, photographs taken at the scene showing all vehicles and from several angles, reveal property damage, giving a window into the severity of the impact and in turn, expected injuries.
At the very least — before repairs are begun — take photos of your vehicle showing the damage.
(2) If injured, don’t be a hero. Obtain care promptly.
“Unexplained or unreasonable delay casts doubt on the reality of the claimed injury, as does treatment that goes on longer than necessary,” Kathryn warns. “You’ve got to be leery of any health care professional who has you coming back for visit after visit well after you are feeling better.”
You and the Law agrees with that warning. Especially where auto medical payments insurance is available — an auto accident patient resembles a ripe, juicy pear, just waiting for some health care professionals to pick by running up a huge bill. Please, use common sense and ask: If I am feeling better, then who is benefitting from my return visits?
(3) Be polite. No one likes to be yelled at spoken to in a sarcastic tone of voice. It is human nature to go the extra mile for someone who is pleasant and works with you.
“It is really mind-boggling,” Kathryn states, shaking her head in disbelief, “If there is anyone who you should be polite and maintain a professional relationship with, it’s the person who has a checkbook in one hand and a pen in the other! So, please, when we ask for some information to help evaluate your claim, help us help you.
“We are not impressed by threats of hiring an attorney — and prefer to deal with a lawyer instead of a nasty claimant. Hiring a lawyer does not mean that we will offer any more money, and you can wind up with less in your pocket. So, nice has a financial benefit.”
Impact affects case value
“Impact is an extremely important element, as every adjuster will look at the amount of damage and can say yes or that it is unlikely for injuries to occur. Given the same impact, we look at the person’s age, as a younger individual will be expected to be less susceptible to major injuries than someone older and more fragile,” she points out.
“For example, we know that in very low impact accidents — with minimal or no visible property damage — the likelihood of real injury is highly doubtful,” Kathryn maintains, adding, “An adjuster is like any person on the street asked to look at the damage and decide if the person was injured. If you can look at a car and only find a small dent or minimal damage, life experience tells us that real injury is highly doubtful,” she strongly maintains.
“But how can you possibly know if or how badly someone was injured just by looking at a photo or a repair estimate? Do adjusters receive medical training or any kind of an education in the dynamics of an auto accident?” we asked.
“In fact, adjusters who work for the well-known, insurance companies that have been around for a long time do go through extensive training, but I will admit that low impact is a highly controversial issue,” one of the friendliest and helpful adjusters we have ever dealt with concluded.
Next time we’ll look at how adjusters determine what they will offer and why it might be difficult to find a lawyer who will take your case.
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.