There are many steps you need to take after a traffic accident to protect your right to compensation. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for a claims adjuster to contact an accident victim before they even have a chance to leave the hospital. It’s important to remember that an insurance adjuster is not your friend or ally, no matter how compassionate and sympathetic they seem at first glance. Their job is to save their employer money, so they are trying to establish contact before you have an opportunity to reach out to an attorney for legal advice and assistance.
Common insurance company traps include:
- Asking for a premature statement
- Misrepresenting laws and policies
- Recording a damaging comment
- Utilizing scare tactics
- Pressuring a victim into accepting a lowball settlement
As we discussed in a previous blog, the most appropriate action is to end the call immediately by refusing to give a recorded statement and forwarding the claims adjuster to your attorney. But what if you don’t have legal representation? Or, what if you do, but it’s a unique situation where you – and your lawyer, never take a call without representation – need to interact with the at-fault party’s insurer?
An insurance adjuster is trained to converse with accident victims and utilize tactics that can easily undermine a costly claim. For this reason, you need to be extremely careful when choosing your words, as even a stray comment or joke can be taken out of context and used against you.
Fortunately, you have the advantage in any call or interaction. Having survived it, you know more about the accident and your injuries than the claims adjuster; in fact, you may have already taken steps to collect evidence, such as photographs and medical records. To the adjuster, you are just one of many files to skim through. By keeping your cool, controlling the conversation, and politely ending the call, you can give your legal team the negotiating advantage.
Below are 5 specific tips on how to speak with an insurance adjuster during your legal journey:
- Set a limit on the conversation: After the adjuster introduces himself, make it clear that you will not be providing information about the accident over the phone. You should also explain that you intend to set limits on any future conversations. This can protect you from calls until you have a chance to hire a qualified lawyer. At that point, you can give the adjuster your attorney’s phone number.
- Always remain calm and polite: It’s natural to feel upset and even angry after an accident, especially if you’ve sustained injuries and now have to deal with a shrewd adjuster. But taking out your frustrations on the insurance adjuster won’t help your case. You need to stay calm, polite, and respectful throughout the interaction, however short it may be.
- Never provide information about your personal life or the accident: Regardless of what the adjuster says, you do not need to provide any information about the accident, your injuries, your daily activities, your career, or your income. The adjuster may try to prompt details by hinting that you could be responsible for the accident or undervaluing your claim – don’t take their word for it. If you can, take notes about their questions and any information, however inane or benign, that you provided and give it to your lawyer.
- Do not make an official statement about the accident or your injuries: The adjuster may pressure you to give an official statement before you can effectively end the call. They may even insist that this statement needs to be recorded as soon as possible. However, prematurely providing an official statement can devastate your claim. Remember, the adjuster knows how to navigate and manipulate a conversation. They may try to put words in your mouth or ask you to reveal information about your medical condition. This is dangerous because you may not know the extent of your injuries for days or even weeks, and an inaccurate statement can reduce the value of your claim. For example, if you tell the adjuster that you have a broken arm and a concussion, and later discover that you also have a back injury, then the insurer may use your initial statement against you.
- Avoid settlement traps: It’s not uncommon for an adjuster to pressure an accident victim into accepting a lowball settlement before the case can be properly analyzed and investigated. You need to remember that this is a tactic that purely benefits the insurance company. This settlement likely won’t account for any projected injury-related expenses, including costs associated with chronic medical problems or loss of earning capacity. A lawyer can calculate the maximum value of your claim and help you negotiate a reasonable settlement.
Do You Require Legal Guidance? Call Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A. Today!
Contact the personal injury attorneys at Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A. if you require legal representation after an automobile accident. Our experienced legal team can investigate your case, protect the validity of your claim, and negotiate with insurance adjusters on your behalf.Call Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A. at (601) 869-0696 to arrange a no-risk consultation today.