Our personal injury clients in New York slip and fall cases, automobile accidents, various premises liability cases and construction accidents are often contacted within a few days of the accident by “concerned” investigators hired by insurance companies (especially Allstate, State Farm, Progressive, New York Central Mutual and Countrywide) allegedly to “help” them or “assist you in any way we can.” This is insurance code speak for destroy your case before you get a chance to hire a lawyer.
The usual ruse will be that the investigator goes to the residence of the injured person, or that of the neighbor or relative, because he has “important information” for the person who’s been in the accident or needs to speak with them to make sure their case is “handled correctly.” In fact, these duplicitous and deceitful insurance representatives are looking for the following: a way to discredit the person; establish that they are working; find out what kind of work they do; what type of car they drive; or their previous medical history (such as a prior accident or lawsuit) that could be helpful to the insurance company in denying the claim. These “helpful” insurance representatives will go so far as to leave their card with their e-mail and cell phone information that can be accessed 24/7 to be of “extra assistance.”
We represent a client who suffered very serious leg injuries in a Westchester County car accident when an oil company van driver backed up his van in a gas station, knocking down our client, and then rolled over his leg, causing severe injuries. Despite the fact that we were immediately retained to represent our client, weeks after we notified the insurance company of our representation, they unethically sent one of these investigators to our client’s brother’s house, since it was “vital” that they speak with the client to make sure that he was “doing o.k.” Luckily, in our client’s case, the brother sent the lying investigator on his merry way with an admonition never to return, as we had warned our client ahead of time about this practice.
A word to the wise: When you are in an accident and are making a claim, make sure your friends, colleagues, neighbors and relatives “just say no” to the nice insurance investigators at the door that want to “be of whatever assistance they can”–they are lions in sheep’s clothing.