Short answer: Nothing! If you are negotiating your personal injury case on your own with the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster, then you’ve probably dealt with a few things. First, insurance companies regularly switch adjusters on injured people, making it even more confusing to know who to call and how to get a hold of the adjuster. Second, some adjusters can try and convince injured people that their case is not worth that much. They tell an injured person that the company is only permitting the adjuster to offer a certain amount.
What they don’t tell the injured person is that they (the adjusters) are evaluated based on whether or not they were able to resolve the injury case below the true value of the case. Also, insurance adjusters tell injured people that they need certain things to “investigate the case” such as written statements and other documents as explained below.
Verbal/Written Statements: A very friendly insurance adjuster calls you and says she understands that you were injured in a car accident with their insured. First, though, they just need to get your side of the story before they pay you and close the file. The problem is that they adjusters are typically looking for ways to deny your claim or convince you that you were somehow at fault for the accident. In case after case, we have seen where adjusters will take a written or verbal statement from a client and then claim the client was 10%-15% at fault for the wreck because of something the client said. Don’t believe that nonsense! And more importantly, don’t give a verbal or written statement!
HIPAA Records: The insurance adjuster tells you that she really wants to compensate you for your injuries, but she just needs to review some of your medical records before her boss will let her send you a check. Oh, and she’s going to need your records from ten to fifteen years before the wreck from every provider you’ve seen. This is an outrageous invasion of your privacy and you should reject this request! Besides having no real relevance to your case, these records go into an insurance database and can be shared with other parties. Just say “no” to this request as well.
Tax Records: You are injured in a car accident and are unable to work. You tell the insurance adjuster you’ve lost thousands of dollars in wages, and she should know that you’ve had to stay home because she’s constantly calling you about settling your case. She tells you that she wants to help you with your lost wages, but she needs to review your tax returns first. She’s going to need this past year’s returns and five years of previous returns. This is absolutely crazy and you should reject this request. Your lost wages can be documented through pay stubs, employer statements, or redacted tax records, rather than allowing an insurance company to get its hands on your full tax returns.
The above are just a few examples of what adjusters ask for in a personal injury case. In your case, they may ask for more documents. However, it’s very rare that an adjuster needs to sees all of the information they ask for in order to fully evaluate your claim. Instead, what they are doing is finding ways not to pay you by pointing out discrepancies in your statements, your records, and your tax returns. If an adjustor is asking you for documents or statements, call an attorney immediately. If you want a free consult with our office about what your rights are and what options you have, don’t hesitate to call.