A car accident is like a shock to the system. Sometimes it’s hard to recall exactly what happened. Naturally, gathering evidence isn’t at the top of the priority list – you just want to make sure everyone is safe.
After the accident, you’re likely going to receive a call from an insurance claims adjuster. That claims adjuster is trained to do what they can to pay the absolute legal minimum for your claim, and sometimes even less than that. Their questions and your responses will be used to determine what, if anything you get for your claim. You may get that call when you’re in the middle of some other activity, when you’re distracted or when you’re simply not feeling well. The adjuster will be prepared, and you should be too. Knowing what to expect when the insurance adjuster calls makes all the difference.
1. Before you talk to an insurance adjuster, understand their role. An insurance adjuster has three main priorities:
- Determine if they can deny the claim entirely
- If money is owed, determine the minimum amount that can be paid to resolve the claim
- Resolve the claim as quickly as possible
An adjuster often receives training on how to ask questions to obtain answers that may allow the insurer to avoid paying, or to pay less than the full value of the claim. When an adjuster calls, they have usually prepared by reviewing things like a crash report or photos of the scene of an accident. If you can, call the adjuster back when you have time to focus entirely on the call. Ideally, you talk to the adjuster only after you and your attorney review things like the crash report, witness statements and photos of the scene. That places you on a level playing field with the adjuster and keeps you from saying something because you’re rushed or not thinking clearly. Also, remember to keep your conversation concise with a claims adjuster and stick to only the facts.
2. Avoid providing too much detail about the accident or your damages.
When you give an early statement, you may still be in shock from the accident. Also, initial impressions of injuries change. Your hand more hurt more than your knee today so you may choose not to mention the knee. Later, when your hand injury resolves but your knee requires surgery, the adjustor may use that early statement to avoid compensating you for your knee injury. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters may use your shock from the accident to their advantage.
3. Avoid giving too many details about an injury or leaving out an injury.
We understand. An automobile or truck accident can be very frightening. No matter what, your life and health come first. And when you combine the anxiety of being involved in an accident with the adrenaline that is ultimately released immediately after, it makes your injuries seem less consequential. Your initial impression might be that an injury is minor, but later, that injury that initially seemed minor, might end up being significant and life altering.
Waiting for a proper medical diagnosis pays off. If you’re asked by an insurance adjuster about your injuries, you should tell them you’re seeking medical treatment locally, tell them all the areas that hurt and that your lawyer and doctors will send details of the exact nature and severity of the injuries.
4. Do not provide a recorded statement without consulting a lawyer first.
An adjuster may ask for a recorded statement. Whether a recorded statement is optional, or mandatory depends on which insurance company is asking and the type of insurance policy involved. Even if a recorded statement is required, it would be helpful to prepare with your attorney so you can give truthful and accurate answers that do not hurt your claim.
Adjusters often want to get an early recorded statement where the shock of the accident might cause you to exaggerate or omit important details. An adjuster may ask for access to your medical files and this may seem harmless. It is better to have your lawyer gather all your medical records, review them with you and then submit them to the adjuster. This allows you to see what your providers wrote in those records. Sometimes records have errors about your injury or how the accident happened. Other times, the records may contain information about minor past treatment that you simply did not recall. In that instance, your innocent failure to recall past treatment may be used by an unscrupulous adjuster to claim you are fraudulently concealing key facts. Carefully reviewing medical records with your attorney allows you to point out errors in those records and to recall prior relevant medical treatment to give the adjuster a detailed and accurate portrayal of your injuries.
5. Don’t accept any money or sign anything without consulting your lawyer.
If you receive a payment early in your claim, or you receive papers to sign, do not accept the payment or sign the papers without consulting your lawyer first. An insurance adjuster may send you a small payment early in the hopes of resolving your claim for less than its true value. Accepting the payment or signing a release may waive valuable legal rights.
In conclusion – remember not to exaggerate or leave out injuries. Keep your first conversation with the insurance adjuster concise until all the facts are straight. Ideally, consult your lawyer before making any statement, accepting any money, or signing any papers. At Weinstein & Cohen, we’ve been dealing with insurance adjusters for decades. We understand how insurance companies work and the tactics they use to minimize payments on claims.
Our experienced Miami and Naples accident attorneys at Weinstein & Cohen will put your priorities first. If you or someone you care about has been injured or involved in an accident across South Florida or Southwest Florida, contact the accident lawyers and Miami and Naples personal injury attorneys at Weinstein & Cohen at 305-374-1011 or 239-793-3331, or visit fairnessforall.com for an absolutely free legal consultation to learn more about your options.