Why You Should Not Talk to the Other Side's Insurance Adjuster After an Automotive Accident
Provided by HG.org
Talking to an insurance adjuster after an automotive accident can often lead to disastrous consequences. By taking on this important feat, it is likely that the victim injured in a personal injury case will make a mistake that will adversely affect his or her case.
Personal Injury Case Process
When a person is injured in an automotive accident, the next question becomes who is legally liable for the accident. Insurance companies are invested in protecting the financial interests of the insurance companies. This is often accomplished by denying as many claims as possible and negotiating the lowest possible settlement on others.
Once an insurance company is informed about the accident, it will open an investigation in order to determine which party was at fault. It assigns an insurance adjuster to the case. If both parties shared fault, it may try to apportion a certain degree of fault. If the victim establishes damages, the insurance adjuster may make an offer to settle the case. This settlement offer may be less than the actual damages that the victim suffered. Again, because the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, it does not have an incentive to help victims get more money. Insurance adjusters may act friendly toward the accident victim and may feign concern over the victim’s injuries but this may just be a façade so that the victim slips up and says something that will undermine his or her case.
Risks of Talking to Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters will try to extract information from the accident victim to use against him or her. Many people have no idea of the tactics that insurance adjusters may use. They may feel open communicating information with the adjuster until they realize that what they have said is being used against them. People are naturally inclined to be honest and to expect to be treated in a fair manner.
While many people think that they know the laws related to accident cases and believe that they have a good case, this is often not the case. There may be a number of legal maneuvers that must be undertaken before a victim is able to receive fair compensation. However, there may be many legal pitfalls that can await an unsuspecting victim. Often, insurance adjusters will ask the victim to make a recorded statement. The victim may be completely honest about everything. However, later at trial, the insurance company may attempt to show that there are inconsistent statements between the recorded statement and the testimony at trial. The lawyer representing the insurance company may attempt to use this contradiction to make the jury question the victim’s credibility so that they will find for the defendant and not the victim.
Due to the insurance adjuster not representing the victim’s interests, it is usually better for accident victims not to talk to insurance adjusters directly. They may prefer to hire a personal injury lawyer to perform this task for them.
When Cooperation Is Necessary
In some situations, the accident victim may have to cooperate with the insurance adjuster. For example, if he or she lives in a no-fault state, he or she may have to report the accident to his or her own insurance company. He or she may be contractually obligated to talk to his or her insurance company after being involved in an accident. In fault states, if the defendant has no insurance or an inadequate amount of insurance, the victim may be able to make a claim on his or her own insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage. However, a person is usually not required to talk to the other party’s insurance adjuster.
In addition to attempting to extract information to use against the victim and to get a recorded statement, the insurance company may also try to get the victim to sign a medical release form. This form provides the insurance company with the right to receive the victim’s medical records. These releases are often much broader than is necessary. Additionally, the insurance company may try to use the information that it gains from this process in order to use it against the victim such as by denying a claim based on a prior injury.
Individuals who have been injured in automotive accident cases may choose to consult a personal injury lawyer. He or she can explain how the victim should proceed in the process and can handle communications with the insurance company so that the victim does not make a mistake that negatively impacts his or her case. He or she can also handle negotiations with the insurance company in order to pursue just compensation.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.