Be on the lookout for these signs of bad faith with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company
When an injured worker files a workers’ compensation claim with their employer, they expect that their company will do everything possible to deliver a positive result. However, what many people don’t realize is that it’s not your employer that pays out your workers’ comp benefits, but rather their insurance provider.
Like all insurers, workers’ comp insurance companies make more profit by paying out fewer claims—an incentive that puts the injured employee on the defensive and at a disadvantage. When the insurance company doesn’t make an effort to uphold the obligations associated with the contract that’s in place, then the insurer could be described as acting in “bad faith.”
A denial of your workers’ compensation claim could result in you paying out-of-pocket for medical expenses, lost wages or other issues that are related to your injury. Unfortunately, there are numerous tactics that insurance companies can use in order to delay, deny or reduce workers’ compensation payments.
While some of these tricks and tactics don’t actually constitute bad faith, you shouldn’t be fooled into falling for them. Instead, consult with an experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorney to find out how much your claim is worth.
Tactic #1: Calling to offer “well wishes”
It’s common for insurers to contact an injured worker after an incident in order to obtain information for the compensation claim. However, some agents might call you right after the incident as a way to try to intimidate you into settling for a lesser compensation amount. They could also try to get you to make a decision before you’ve contacted your doctor about your condition and before you talk to an attorney to learn about the rights that you have.
You’ll usually hear how sorry the agent is and how the agent wants to help—only to reach a point where the agent is trying to do everything possible to get you to settle for less than you deserve. That way, the case doesn’t go to court and the company doesn’t have to pay out as much money.
Tactic #2: Miconstruing recordings
When you talk to an insurance agent or another professional, you might be asked if the conversation can be recorded. Sometimes, the recordings are used to try to put you in a bad light. The agent could leave out just enough information so that it seems as though you were at fault for your injuries instead of the company.
For instance, you could be asked questions before you go to a doctor, which would be indicated by your responses. This method of questioning could result in the agent claiming that your injuries aren’t severe and that you don’t need any type of compensation and that you have no reason to stay out of work.
Another way that an agent could use a recording against you is by asking questions about a certain area of your body so that you don’t mention the area that actually hurts because of the accident.
Tactic #3: Authorizations
If an insurance agent wants you to sign an authorization form right after your incident, you should be wary. It’s true that you will likely need to sign documents and forms so that the insurance company can obtain information from your doctor pertaining to your injuries and treatment plan. However, if you’re asked to sign these documents before you see a doctor or before you’ve had a chance to discuss the details of the incident with an attorney, then you could be in for a surprise.
The insurance company could obtain information about you that doesn’t even relate to your claim, possibly using the information to deny your claim and suspend your insurance coverage as well.
Tactic #4: Offering a quick settlement
After an accident, you might need money in order to pay your bills or to pay for the medical treatments that you need. However, that doesn’t mean that you should settle for the first offer that you’re given from an insurance company.
Most of the time, an agent will contact you with a low offer in the hopes that you’ll accept it because you need the money. The insurance company wouldn’t have to go to court, and you would receive a check to help with a few bills that you might be behind on due to being out of work.
It’s sometimes better to hold out on accepting the first offer because you can usually obtain more money if you take the issue to court. A workers’ compensation attorney can often negotiate with the insurance company to obtain a higher settlement.
Tactic #5: Disputing medical care
Sometimes, the insurance company might review your claim and inform you that the treatments you need aren’t covered by your policy or that you don’t need to seek medical care after a certain number of visits to your doctor.
If you listen to the agent and stop going to your doctor, then it could appear as though you’re not really as injured as you would have the insurance company believe, which could then result in not getting money at all.
An attorney who works with workers’ compensation cases can examine the details about your accident to determine if the company could be at fault. If you’ve already been contacted by an insurance company, your attorney can review the information that you gave to determine if it could have been a tactic used in order to deny the claim.
Were you injured at work? Work with a knowledgeable attorney to secure a settlement that meets the medical and personal needs you have before speaking with an insurance agent.
For assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, reach out to our team at the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski today. We’ll fight for your rights and help you avoid these bad faith tactics. Contact us today for your free consultation.