If you were recently involved in an automobile accident, you are probably eager to recover the costs of your damages as soon as possible. One of the first steps that insurance companies take when processing a claim for damage is to have their adjuster contact you and ask you questions about the accident, damage to your vehicle, and any injuries suffered by you or other passengers in the vehicle.
While it might be tempting to provide the adjuster with every detail of information that they request in order to quickly resolve the matter, it is important to have some guidance on what to say and what NOT to say and/or do when an adjuster calls you.
In this article, we will explore both the “dos” and the “don’ts” of speaking with an adjuster after an accident, so you are equipped to handle the situation in a way that protects your interests.
DO: Speak With Your Lawyer First
If you plan to hire a personal injury lawyer or have already done so, it is a good idea to schedule a time to speak with your lawyer before you talk to the adjuster for the insurance company of the other person who was involved in the accident.
Your attorney will be able to explain the process to you and what you should expect during your conversation with the adjuster. He or she can also provide you with specific guidance on what information you should share with the adjuster and what details you should not provide in the conversation.
DO: Have Your Lawyer Participate in The Call
If you have hired a lawyer, it is a good idea to have them on the phone with you when you speak to the insurance adjuster for the other party. Even if you spoke with your lawyer before your conversation with the adjuster, there is still an advantage to having them on the call. If they are on the line with you, they can interject to suggest that you not answer a question, if doing so would be against your interests. Having your lawyer telephonically present is particularly helpful if you are dealing with an aggressive or hostile adjuster.
DO: Stay Calm and Be Polite
Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be a stressful ordeal and, if you are talking to the insurance adjuster representing the other party involved in the accident, they will probably try to solicit information from you that will provide them with a defense to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all. They may even be aggressive with you.
The best thing you can do in these circumstances is stay calm and be polite in response to the adjuster. If you get upset, you may say something, without thinking, that is ultimately harmful to your case.
DO: Find Out Who You Are Speaking With
Ask the adjuster for their name, phone number, address, the name of the insurance company they work for, and the party they represent. Write down this information and keep it in your records.
DO: Be Truthful
The worst thing you can do when speaking to an adjuster is to be untruthful with them. Remember, you can decline to answer their questions and you can choose to not share information with them. However, if you provide them with false or misleading information, it could not only negatively impact your credibility if your case goes to trial, but you may also be charged with insurance fraud and face criminal liability.
DO: Ask if There Were any Witnesses
Use your conversation with the adjuster as an opportunity to collect information that will be helpful to your claim, like whether the adjuster is aware of any witnesses to the accident. Insurance adjusters conduct investigations of each claim and, in doing so, they may have information that you do not.
Regardless of whether the witness’s statement is beneficial or harmful to your claim, you will want to have this information. It can either support your claim or give you warning about a statement the other party will likely use in its defense, allowing you time to form a counterargument or collect information that undermines the accuracy of the witness’s statement or the credibility of the witness themselves.
DON’T: Agree to Have the Conversation Recorded
An insurance adjuster is obligated to inform you whether the line they are calling you on is a recorded line and that the conversation is being recorded. You are not legally required to agree to speak with them on a recorded line. In fact, you should refuse to do so. If you make a statement that is against your interests, they can use your words against you.
DON’T: Give Too Much Personal Information
You should only provide the insurance adjuster with limited personal information like your name, phone number, and address. You do not need to provide them with any additional information like your income, schedule, or details about your private life or employment.
DON’T: Discuss Details About the Accident
When discussing the accident, an insurance adjuster representing the other party will try to solicit statements from you that hurt your claim and help their policyholder. They will likely be looking for you to give them information that potentially minimizes the liability of the other party and/or exposes you to liability.
You should only provide the adjuster very basic information about the accident and not discuss “how” the accident occurred. Instead, you may share details of the types of vehicles involved, drivers and passengers, and where the accident occurred.
The adjuster may be very subtle in the way they try to get you to discuss details of the accident. Particularly, if you are convinced the other party was at fault, you may be eager to share details about how they caused your injuries or damaged your vehicle. However, all of these details are better shared in a written demand letter that your lawyer will prepare and send to the other party, not in your phone conversation with the adjuster.
DON’T: Provide Details About Your Injuries
Similarly, you should not provide the adjuster with details about your injuries from the accident. If the accident happened recently, you may not yet be experiencing the full effect of your injuries and you may not have a diagnosis for every injury caused by the accident. It is best to decline to discuss these details and save them for your written demand letter that your lawyer will prepare.
DON’T: Agree to Anything
In addition to not making your own statements regarding details of how the accident occurred and the nature and extent of your injuries, you should also be careful not to inadvertently agree with statements that the adjuster makes about these facts.
Furthermore, do not agree to any resolution of the matter during your first call with the adjuster. It is much better to let your attorney handle a settlement negotiation or, if you are handling the claim without a lawyer, to make sure you get any offer in writing. You also want to give yourself time to consider the offer and assess the full extent of your damages.
If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence in the Houston or Austin area, contact our team of experienced personal injury lawyers today to review your claim and help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.