After you have been in an accident, you need to protect your rights and your claim. Do not assume that the insurance adjuster is on your side, no matter how nice she may act. She has only one job, and that is to settle your claim for as little money as possible or deny your claim outright.
The best thing you can do for yourself is not to speak with the insurance company at all until you talk to a lawyer. Never agree to a recorded statement. And until you get a lawyer who will deal with the insurance adjuster, use this handy checklist of seven things you should never say to an insurance adjuster:
1. “In my opinion, this is what I believe happened …”
You will not help your claim by speculating as to what caused the accident. The insurance company will not pay you more because of your opinion. It will not hesitate, however, to decrease the value of your settlement if the adjuster can twist your words to make it look as if you were at fault.
You only saw the accident from one vantage point. Just as in a football game, one camera may show what looks like a touchdown, while a camera from a different part of the field will prove there was no touchdown. You do not have all the facts, despite how you saw things from your angle. So avoid speculating on the cause; first, speak with a lawyer.
2. “I think the cause of the accident was this …”
Again, do not speculate. You do not know all the facts. It may turn out that one of the drivers was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and that contributed to the accident. Never guess or express an opinion about what may or may not have caused an accident.
3. “I’m sorry for the accident.”
Here in Georgia, we consider it good manners to express sympathy. A typical way to show we care is to say we are sorry for what they are going through. Although we intend to say we feel compassion, an insurance adjuster can twist these words into an admission of fault. Never express sympathy or compassion when talking with an insurance company.
4. “The accident was my fault.”
Even if you are sure that you contributed to the accident, let your lawyer handle this conversation with the insurance company. Admitting fault can have massive consequences, including denial of your injury claim or a drastic reduction in the amount of money you get for your injuries. Frequently, both drivers share fault, but once someone admits fault, the insurance adjuster might stick them with 100 percent of the liability, even though someone else might be more to blame for the wreck.
5. “I’m not hurt.”
Many injuries do not reveal themselves immediately. Never tell an insurance adjuster you were not hurt, because if you later discover injuries, the adjuster will claim you are lying. Further, if you have only minor pain, do not speculate as to the severity of your injuries. Minor pain may be indicative of more serious injuries. Seek medical care and talk to your lawyer before making any statements about your injuries or pain.
6. “Yes, I will accept your offer.”
Do not accept a settlement offer without talking with a lawyer. Your lawyer will investigate the accident and your injuries to make sure you are getting compensation for everything you deserve. Insurance adjusters like to settle cases quickly before you have completed all your medical treatment. If you settle too early, only to later learn that your injuries will disable you, you cannot go back to the insurance company to get more money.
7. “I don’t need a lawyer.”
Seek legal assistance after your accident. Do not let an insurance adjuster convince you that you do not need a lawyer. Your lawyer can investigate the accident, compile evidence, retrieve important records, and negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.
The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC will evaluate your accident claim during your free consultation. Call us today at 404-474-0804.