A car accident can be overwhelming and physically disabling. Within days of reporting the accident to the at-fault party’s insurance company, you will likely be approached by an insurance adjuster.
It’s important to understand that the insurance adjuster is focused on limiting their client’s financial liability. Their goal is to find something that could potentially damage your claim for compensation.
Insurance adjusters may try to get you to admit to being at fault in the accident, and they may minimize the extent of your injuries. Their goal is to get you to discuss your diagnosis and injuries in detail so they can turn the information against you.
They may suggest that they’re calling to get your version of the accident and answers to some of their questions. However, this is done in an effort to disprove your claim. The attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC have years of experience working with insurance companies and adjusters to represent and protect their client’s rights. Before talking with an insurance adjuster, consider getting your own representation from lawyers who have a successful track record of protecting their clients.
Don’t Say These Things to an Adjuster
You have a choice to speak with the insurance adjuster on your own or with legal representation. Your personal injury lawyer can help prevent you from inadvertently sharing information that can damage your claim. Here are some things that you should never say to an insurance adjuster.
Admitting fault: Using apologetic language is enough for the insurance adjuster to assume you’re admitting fault and use that against you. Even if you feel you’re at fault, wait for the official investigation to prove what actually happened. Don’t say things like “I’m sorry” or “it was my fault.”
Your injuries: Insurance adjusters may reach out to you in the hours after an accident and well before an accident investigation has made clear who was at fault. Do not tell the insurance adjuster anything about your medical condition. Saying things like “it’s okay” or “I’m fine” can downplay your injuries and cause your adjuster to reduce the settlement offer.
Although the adjuster asking about your injuries may seem routine, you do not have to answer their questions. Explain to the adjuster that you will give them information when you and your attorney can send a demand letter to the insurance company. It may be tempting to go into detail, but you may not even know the full extent of your injuries at this point.
Recorded statement: You are not under any legal obligation to give a recorded statement or sign a statement after a car accident. Of course, the insurance company will need documentation of your injuries and property damage in order to settle a claim. But you can politely refuse to give a recorded statement or sign an initial statement until you have spoken with your attorney. This protects you from the adjuster finding ways to use the statement against you in the future.
Speculation: If you are involved in a crash, do not speculate about what happened with the insurance adjuster. For example, don’t say things like “I think he was speeding,” “I may have been changing the radio,” or “He was trying to avoid a pothole.” You must cooperate with the insurance adjuster during their investigation, but you do not have to offer information or speculate about information that you do not have or don’t remember.
First offer: Don’t say yes to the first settlement offer. The insurance adjuster may say it’s the last or final offer. However, until you have spoken with a personal injury attorney about your case, you can assume that the first offer is usually much lower than the true value of the claim. Most insurance companies and adjusters hope that you do not have enough information about insurance claims or the law to realize that the first offer will not be the best offer.
Tips for Your First Call with an Adjuster
Insurance adjusters may call in the hours after the accident with the hope of getting information from you that can be used against you. There are several things you can do to help protect your rights.
Remain calm and be polite. You might be angry about the accident, property damage, and your injuries, but taking your anger out on the insurance adjuster will not help get you a fair personal injury settlement. You may also inadvertently say something they can use against you. Remember to keep your cool and stay professional.
Before you start the discussion, get the name, address, company, and telephone number of the person you’re speaking with. Next, only give out limited information initially. This can include information that does not implicate you in any way, such as your name, address, and telephone number.
You can also tell them about the work that you do and where you are employed. However, during this initial contact, you do not need to explain anything else about where you work, what schedule you keep, your income, or any other personal information.
The adjuster may try to get you to give a statement about how the accident happened. Even during a simple conversation, they may suddenly try to get you to tell them about the accident. Stay focused on what they’re asking and what they’re talking about so you can politely refuse to discuss these facts.
One of the tricks an adjuster uses is to come across as your friend. Remember, they may be friendly, but they are not on your side, and their goal is to get you to let your guard down, so you’ll say something you’ll regret later. Be concise with your responses and do not speculate. Stick to the facts and respond directly to each question.
Contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC for Experienced Representation
If you were injured in a car accident that was not your fault, contact the Chicago car accident attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC today. During your confidential consultation, we’ll review the facts of your case and offer you advice on the next best steps you can take.