Think the insurance company will treat you fairly because the accident wasn't your fault? Think again! While our #1 goal is to get the most money possible for our clients, the insurance company's #1 goal is the complete opposite, They want to keep as much of their money as possible, and there are a number of tactics the insurance company will use to limit or deny injury claims.
We've fought with insurance companies for the past 75 years, and at times we've witnessed some questionable behavior on their part. One of the more popular tactics in their arsenal used to limit or deny an injury claim is the good old-fashioned "excuse." So before you accept the insurance company's final offer, or let them make you believe you have no claim, take a look at the following list of insurance company excuses our attorneys and paralegals have compiled.
If you've heard any of these excuses and don't know what to do next, you can call us today to discuss your options and take advantage of our Zero Fee Guarantee located in the Keller & Keller Pledge.
Has The Insurance Company Tried to Sell You Any Of These Excuses After You've Been Injured in an Accident?
1. "The injuries you claim to have sustained in your auto accident are actually related to a prior injury or condition from a previous accident or physical illness."
It's true, that a pre-existing injury can be one of the biggest factors to negatively affect a personal injury claim. (If the insurance company believes they can diminish the value of your claim by saying a prior back injury is to blame for the majority of your pain, they'll do it.) HOWEVER, don't accept this excuse at face value. It's also possible that a pre-existing condition has nothing to do with your current injury, or that the accident made your pre-existing condition worse, therefore potentially entitling you to a larger recovery!
2. "We have closed your file."
We have received calls from panicked accident victims who are worried that the insurance company won't pay for their medical bills or pain and suffering because the claims adjuster has "closed" their file 30 days after the incident. In this example, it's important to understand the critical difference between a "closed file" and your "statute of limitations."
In most instances, when the insurance company says they've "closed your file," they just have made the claim inactive. This does not affect the value of your claim or mean your case is permanently closed; it's simply a tactic and/or internal lingo the insurance company may use to hurry and/or pressure you into settling your claim as quickly as possible.
The date you MUST be concerned with is known as your "statute of limitations." This is the time limit associated with your accident claim and is what officially limits the amount of time you have to settle your case. Every state has a different statute of limitations, but the law is often based on the victim's age as well as the circumstances surrounding the accident.
You should ALWAYS consult with an attorney immediately after an accident to determine how long you have to officially resolve your injury claim.
3. "The police report does not indicate that you had any complaints of pain at the scene of the accident."
If you've received treatment for your injuries, don't let this excuse make you believe you don't have a claim. It's quite common for a car accident victim to sustain injuries that aren't fully realized until 2-3 days after the accident. However, it's essential that you seek treatment immediately after noticing any pain or discomfort—a gap in treatment can negatively affect your claim.
4. "You weren't wearing your seat belt."
New Mexico state law requires that everyone in a vehicle be buckled up, but you should never assume you can't make a recovery for your injuries if you didn't have on a seat belt at the time of the crash.
(Compensation and state laws aside, please ALWAYS wear your seat belt!)
5. "Your car wasn't in great condition."
The insurance company might tell you the tires were worn; your brakes weren't working; your tail lights were out; or your turn signal wasn't working. In most instances, the only time a defect on your vehicle may affect the value of an injury claim is IF it was found to contribute to the cause of the accident.
6. "You weren't licensed to drive." OR "Your license was suspended."
If you're found to be driving without a license and/or your license was suspended, it's likely you'll face fines, further suspensions, or other possible legal repercussions, but it's still possible that you may be able to make a recovery for damages you suffered as a result of the accident.
7. "You didn't react quickly enough to avoid the collision."
This is one of the more popular excuses the insurance company has been known to use when their insured is clearly at fault.
In an attempt to put partial blame on the victim, they'll insinuate that you should have foreseen the accident before it happened and avoided the other driver. This excuse is less likely to work when you're represented by an experienced accident attorney.
8. "You made an abrupt or unnecessary stop."
This is an insurance company excuse that is often without merit. Vehicles traveling behind you are obligated to give enough space to anticipate any abrupt or sudden stops due to an emergency, or otherwise. If someone strikes your vehicle from behind, it's often the case that you have minimal to 0% fault.
9. "You made a lane change without using your turn signal."
While there are certainly times when not utilizing a turn signal may place some fault on you, there are times when it either has a very minor effect on the liability or none at all.
10. "You did not go to the hospital after the accident."
Seeking medical treatment is very important after an auto accident and it is important to get checked out even if you don't feel immediate pain. Sometimes the shock and adrenaline of the accident can mask the pain you are feeling. While we would advise going to the hospital or doctor as soon as you can, it will not adversely affect your case if you don't go to the hospital immediately.
11. "Your complaints to the doctor were minimal."
Oftentimes, the insurance company is not considering all medical records, or other factors, in their evaluation of your claim. If the insurance company fails to fully evaluate all factors of your case, the insurance company may be committing bad faith under New Mexico law. When that happens, the insurance company may be doing you a favor. Our attorneys are experienced in the area of bad faith law, and can often use the fact the insurance company has committed bad faith as a way to make your case more valuable.
12. "Your complaints to your family doctor did not match the complaints you gave to the staff in the ER."
Residual effects can often lead to new aches and pains that you didn't experience in the ER. As long as you're being honest with your doctor, and he or she is treating you for these new symptoms that are related to the accident, it may be possible for you to recover compensation for these injuries.
13. "No one called the police after the accident."
Most people are surprised to learn police reports are sometimes not filed for accidents involving minimal property damage. However, it still may be possible to make a recovery from your injuries even if a report wasn't filed.
14. "You were partially at fault for the accident."
It's not uncommon for the insurance company to try and place a percentage of fault on an innocent driver if they believe they can get away with it. (Motorcyclists often face this problem after an accident.)
The best advice we can give you for this excuse is to contact an experienced attorney and have them review your version of the events as well as the police report.
15. "No one else was injured in the accident."
It is not uncommon for one person in a vehicle to be injured while their passengers are not. There are several scientific and medical explanations as to why this could be true. First, the specific point and velocity of impact will be a large factor regarding who is injured and who is not. Secondly, the safety features of the vehicle itself will affect injury (airbag deployment, seatbelt use, extent of crush). Lastly, the age and health of the passenger have a lot to do with injury.
16. "Your name is not listed on the police report."
In this instance, it's possible that you were a passenger in a vehicle and the police officer didn't list you for one of several reasons. Perhaps you didn't have immediate pain, or they didn't realize you were involved in the accident, etc. No matter the reason, it still may be possible to collect compensation for injuries you sustained in the accident.
17. "You didn't have auto insurance."
In most states, if you don't have auto insurance and another driver is liable for your injuries, you are still able to seek compensation for medical bills, pain, and suffering, as well as lost wages and property damage. (NOTE: New Mexico does not require motorists to purchase uninsured/underinsured coverage.)
ALWAYS speak to an attorney licensed to practice law in your state before accepting this excuse.
18. "The property damage was not severe."
Don't be intimidated or forced into dismissing your claim simply because the insurance company suggests your property damage was too minimal.
19. The police responded but a report was never made out.
Similar to #13, even if the police do respond, there's a chance they may not make a report if they feel the impact was minor; however, if you sustained an injury, not having a police report doesn't automatically exclude you from seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering related to the accident.
20. "You didn't take an ambulance from the scene of the accident."
An ambulance is not always necessary. Even if you are injured, you may decide to have a friend or family member transport you to the hospital rather than incurring the expense of an ambulance ride. This decision will not adversely affect your claim.
21. "You seem to be a magnet for collisions."
Having been in prior accidents isn't necessarily an automatic reason to limit or deny your claim. Sometimes, simple bad luck is to blame.
22. "Physical evidence was lost and it is necessary to have it examined by an expert to prove your version of the facts."
Physical evidence is important and sometimes it can make or break a case; however, physical evidence and expert testimony are not always necessary to make a recovery.
23. "There are no independent witnesses to prove your version of the events."
Witnesses can certainly bolster your claim, but there are other ways to prove your version of events including physical evidence, video and photo surveillance, damage to vehicles, skid marks, etc.
24. "You had no objective signs of injury at the scene of the accident: No cuts, no broken bones, no bruises."
Just because an injury isn't objective doesn't mean it isn't an injury. Injuries such as a concussion, whiplash, or muscle strain may not be visible but can be incredibly painful. You deserve compensation for those injuries just as much as you would for a broken bone.
25. "You were/are under a doctor's orders not to drive, or were/are on prescription medication."
These issues do not bar you from recovering. If you were under a doctor's orders not to drive or were on prescription medication at the time of your accident, make sure you speak to an experienced accident attorney.
26. "Your pain and symptoms caused by the accident vanished shortly after the accident."
Some people recover more quickly from their injuries than others. Often times this has to do with age, activity level, and overall health. Just because you get better quickly doesn't mean that your injuries weren't real or that you are not entitled to recovery for the time that you were in pain.
27. "The type of injury you sustained could not have possibly been caused by the accident."
Sometimes the insurance company may try to explain injuries such as a rotator cuff tear as one that is unlikely to have been caused by an auto accident when, in fact, it's very much possible your collision was the cause of a unique injury.
28. "You seem to have trouble explaining the accident, so your credibility is in doubt."
There are so many reasons why you may not be able to recall the details surrounding your accident. You may have been traveling on the same route you take every single day when "BAM!" out of nowhere you are involved in a collision. It is possible that you lost consciousness due to the impact. You are likely in shock and your adrenaline is rushing. It is completely understandable that you may have trouble explaining every detail. This is not an excuse that the insurance company can use to get out of fairly compensating you.
29. "Our insured was acting as a 'reasonable person while operating their vehicle and is not at fault."
The "reasonable person" standard is a legal theory that insurance companies will try to use to argue their way out of paying. However, there are personal circumstances and outside circumstances that may affect that theory. It is best to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney who can argue your side.
30. "You were at fault, or partially at fault, for exceeding the posted speed limit."
Even if you were deemed partially at fault or have some liability, you are not always barred from recovery. An experienced injury attorney can explain your state-specific laws to make sure that you are still fairly compensated.
31. "The police report contains errors."
Unfortunately, errors in the police report are quite common. If you feel that the police report is inaccurate, you may want to call the officer who investigated the accident to clarify the errors. Also, make sure that you give any witness information to the investigating officer so that information can be added to the report.
32. "You exaggerated the at-fault driver's actions and are therefore an unreliable source."
Facts are facts. Regardless of whether or not you exaggerated the circumstances of the accident, physical evidence, witness statements, and the police report will prove liability.
33. "You missed a doctor's appointment."
A gap in treatment and multiple missed appointments can do serious damage to your personal injury claim, but missing a single appointment due to an emergency or inability to get to your doctor's office one particular day shouldn't severely damage your claim.
34. "You had a hearing or vision defect and weren't wearing glasses or hearing aid."
These issues may not bar you from recovering. Make sure you speak to an experienced accident attorney.
35. "You didn't notice our insured until the crash happened, so you must not have been paying attention."
We have had several clients that have told us the insurance company wanted to place a percentage of fault on them for "not paying attention."
This is a vague excuse, so it's always recommended that you allow an experienced accident lawyer the opportunity to review the facts surrounding your accident. (In several instances, our attorneys have been able to remove all fault from our client and place 100% on the offending driver.)
36. "Your recollection of times, speeds, and distances is inaccurate, thus your credibility is questionable."
Don't let an insurance company interrogate you based on your memory of time, speed, and/or distance. Details like this are often distorted in a victim's mind due to the psychological trauma you may have experienced during and shortly after a crash. Always consult with an attorney if you're unsure about these details or your car accident.
37. "You were not the first vehicle in the intersection."
Depending on the details of your collision, this excuse is most often given by the insurance company when you have been involved in a "He-Said, She-Said" accident, meaning both parties are claiming they were either turning or proceeding through an intersection with the right of way while the other person failed to yield.
In this instance, it's often advisable to contact an attorney so that they can interview and locate any potential witnesses as well as gather evidence from the accident scene. It's possible that they will also examine the timing of the lights and property damage in an attempt to debunk the insurance company's excuse.
38. "You exaggerated your complaints related to the accident according to your medical records."
Everyone feels pain differently. Only a medical professional can document your injuries and give an opinion.
39. "Your injuries were totally subjective and didn't require X-rays, an MRI, or any orthopedic tests."
Just because your injuries are subjective does not mean that you aren't in pain. There is not one specific course of treatment that an accident victim must undergo to recover compensation for their injuries. If you suffered an injury through no fault of your own, and are following your doctor's advice, it's possible you may be able to receive payment for your medical bills, pain, and suffering, as well as any lost wages.
40. "You were examined by a doctor that was recommended by the insurance company soon after the accident and was found to be uninjured and not in need of treatment."
First, if possible, you should always visit your own primary care physician. Second, if the insurance company did recommend a doctor to you, and you were treated by this doctor, you should immediately contact an attorney to discuss that doctor's findings.
41. "You have a history of mental illness or emotional problems."
Unless you were proved to be at fault for the accident, make false statements about your injuries, or misrepresent the facts regarding how the accident occurred, this excuse shouldn't affect your ability to collect compensation for your injuries.
42. "You previously told us you didn't think you were seriously injured in the accident."
It's never wise to give a statement to the insurance company—your attorney should be your only go-between when dealing with them. That said, if you experienced injuries and didn't begin experiencing the effects of the accident until a few days later, it's possible you may have believed you weren't injured when you first spoke to the insurance company.
In some instances, an experienced law firm can help to overcome a potentially harmful statement.
43. "You failed to give proper and timely notice to governmental entities, so your claim is barred."
When you attempt to recover from a governmental entity, e.g., the City of Albuquerque, it is absolutely critical that you file the proper tort claim notices within the designated time period so as not to be barred from any potential recovery. However, never accept the insurance company's accusation that you failed to meet these obligations without first speaking to a qualified attorney.
A qualified New Mexico attorney should be able to fully explain to you the time limits and requirements of filing a proper tort claim notice.
44. "An act of God or unidentified person was responsible for the accident."
Hit and run accidents are all too common. Even if the other driver is never identified, you may still be able to make a recovery. Read more about hit and run accidents here.
45. "You were talking on your cell phone at the time of the accident."
With the exception of novice drivers, New Mexico has no restrictions on cell phone usage (talking or texting) while driving. Even if you were using your cell phone at the time of the accident, it still may be possible to recover compensation.
46. "Our policy doesn't cover punitive damages."
In addition to recovering money for medical bills, lost wages, and pain & suffering (compensatory damages), our Albuquerque attorneys are experienced at recovering punitive damages on behalf of our clients. If you’ve been hit by a reckless driver, such as a drunk driver, you may be entitled to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are different from compensatory damages. In New Mexico, Punitive damages are designed to punish the at-fault driver for reckless conduct. Our attorneys have the knowledge necessary to evaluate your case and determine whether you are entitled to additional money because of reckless behavior on the part of the person who injured you.
47. "You don't have insurance, therefore you don't deserve to recover."
While we stress the importance of having your own auto insurance policy, not having an insurance policy of your own does not bar you from recovery. If that other driver was at fault for the accident, you are still entitled to compensation.
48. "You admitted fault at the accident scene."
It is not uncommon to apologize after an accident. "I'm sorry, are you ok?" is probably one of the first things that come to your mind. This does not mean that you admitted fault.
49. "Our insured isn't cooperating and we can't settle your claim until we speak to them."
It isn't unreasonable for the insurance company to want to get their insured's side of the story before they pay you. However, you may not have to wait until they speak to them before you can get the ball rolling on your claim, especially if you have insurance of your own.
50. "You over-treated for your injuries."
Only a medical professional can be the judge of whether or not you are over-treating for your injuries. We always advise you to follow your doctor's orders and treat accordingly.