When you are injured, the insurance companies that represent the at-fault party have come up with a whole bag of tricks that they use to try to minimize your injury, so they can minimize the amount that they have to pay.  They use these tricks everywhere from the initial phone call all the way through trial.

Be on the look out for these tricks and logical fallacies the next time that you have to deal with an unscrupulous insurance company.

1.  Trick Number One:  Gap in Medical Treatment = Full Recovery.

Many people who are injured seek medical care for a while, then they take some time to let their bodies heal before returning to the doctor.  This can be big trouble when dealing with an insurance company.

People have gaps in the medical history for a multitude of good reasons.  Sometimes you don’t have the money or insurance you need.  Sometimes your doctor says there’s nothing he can do you for, so you just have to wait for your body to heal.

But when insurance companies see a gap in medical treatment they draw only one conclusion – you must be 100% healed.  The insurance companies embrace the logical fallacy that any treatment past the gap must be unrelated to your accident.

What Can You Do To Avoid This?  While you should not go to the doctor any more than is necessary, if you are suffering from a long-lasting injury, it is a good idea to check in with your doctor once every month or two to keep your doctors appraised of your condition.

2.  Trick Number Two:  Typo in Medical Record = Smoking Gun.

Insurance companies also like to seize on any typo or inconsistency in the medical records as “proof” that you are lying.  So your records are plastered with a “left” shoulder injury?  If the insurance company can find one record where the Physician’s Assistant accidentally wrote down “right” shoulder, the insurance company will argue that you must be making your complaints up, since real injuries don’t jump from one shoulder to another.

Of course they won’t consider that perhaps the “right” is a typo.  After all, doctors never make mistakes right?

What Can You Do To Avoid This?  Regularly ask your doctors for copies of your medical records, and review them.  If you see any errors, immediately contact your doctor’s office and request they update the records.

3.  Trick Number Three:  Feeling “Better” = 100% Healed.

Oh how insurance companies love to misconstrue medical records!  If at any point you report to your doctor that you are feeling “better” the defense attorney will show that medical record at trial and claim that you were 100% cured as of that date.  Any pain you may have had after that date must have been from a different cause, according to their faulty logic.

What Can You Do To Avoid This?  Be as accurate as possible when talking to your doctor.  Doctors can be overworked, and sometimes they jot down quick notes.  Be clear when describing how you are feeling.  After all, there is a big difference between feeling 10% better and feeling 100% better.

4.  Trick Number Four:  Digging Up Old Injuries You Don’t Remember.

If you ever tell a doctor that you had “no previous injuries” and it turns out that you fell off your bike when you were ten, or had a sore back after shoveling snow, the defense attorney will claim that you were hiding injuries from your doctor, and that your doctor’s shouldn’t be trusted because they “didn’t have all the facts.”

You must be a liar and a cheater trying to scam the system for money, according the the defense industry’s logic.  After all, who doesn’t keep a record of every ache or pain they have ever had in their life?

What Can You Do To Avoid This?  If you ever get involved in a personal injury lawsuit, take some time to think back and recall any past injuries you may have had.  Car accidents, sports accidents, and trip-and-falls are common sources of prior injuries.  It is better to be as forthcoming as possible.

5.  Trick Number Five:  Only Criminals Need Attorneys.

If you retain an attorney shortly after you are injured, the defense will imply that you are out to make money on your lawsuit.

“But wait” you want to say, “I only got an attorney because I was getting harassing calls from the defendant’s insurance company, and I needed my car fixed!”

Unfortunately, you are not allowed to say that at trial, because you are not allowed to mention that fact that defendant’s have insurance in California courts.  That hardly seems fair does it?

What Can You Do To Avoid This?  If a defense attorney wants to mislead the jury in this way, there’s not too much you can do about it.  The best thing to do is just make sure you those around you are well informed.  That way, next time you are sitting on a jury, you won’t be fooled.

6.  Trick Number Six:  Previous Injuries Make You into Superman.

Car accidents are dangerous for anyone, even healthy people.  Of course, they are much more dangerous if you already have a bad back or a preexisting injury.  When the defense insurance companies find out that you have a preexisting injury, get ready for them to blame all your pain and problems on the preexisting condition.

Somehow, in the Bizarro world of insurance company logic, having a preexisting injury makes you impervious to any future harm.

What Can You Do To Avoid This? Don’t work for an insurance company!  It seems like insurance companies are the only ones that subscribe to the “superman fallacy.”  As long as you keep your feet planted on the ground out here in the real world, you can recognize these tricks and logical fallacies for the nonsense they really are.

 

 

About the author

NFS Esq. Noah Schwinghamer is a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento, CA.

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