Were you involved in a car accident in Atlanta? Then you will likely file a claim with another driver’s insurance company if you were not at fault. (You could still have a claim even if you were partially at fault, per Georgia’s negligence laws.) Make sure you know what to do before you start dealing with an insurance adjuster.
Talking to an Insurance Adjuster
While the adjuster may be friendly and seem interested in your well-being, you should know that adjusters are ultimately looking out for the good of the insurance company. Insurance companies do not want to pay out any more money than they have to, so they rely on their insurance adjusters to help.
So as you start talking to them or as they contact you, make sure you take precautions to protect your injury claim. Here are four things you should do when you speak to an insurance adjuster after an accident.
- Write down the insurance adjuster’s name and contact information (name of company, telephone number, address).
- Be polite and stay calm.
- Do not say any more than you need to.
- Avoid providing any information about the accident or your injuries at this point. When you are talking to the other party’s insurance company, it is best to say less because the information you provide could be twisted or distorted, resulting in a claim reduction or denial. An insurance adjuster may ask you to provide a recorded statement about your claim. Since this is not an obligation, avoid giving any statements until you sit down with an attorney.
Information to Share with an Insurance Adjuster
Until you start working with an attorney who may start sharing more evidence and information about the accident, the adjuster only needs the following information in regards to the accident.
- Your name, telephone number, and address
- The location where the accident occurred
- The date and approximate time it occurred
- The type of accident (T-bone, rear-end, head-on, etc.)
Explain that you will share detailed facts later on, as the crash is still under investigation. Share limited information regarding any injuries you sustained in the crash. Descriptions should be general, such as a broken leg or back pain. Explain that the extent and severity of those injuries is not clear yet, and that you are seeking and continuing medical care.
Information Not to Share with an Insurance Adjuster
Insurance adjusters may attempt trick you into giving away too much information after an accident. Make sure you do not share information about.
- Your work (type of work, name and address of employer, salary)
- Your medical history
- The cause of the accident
In addition to the above, review these seven things you should never say to an insurance adjuster following an accident.
But even if you do not volunteer any information, adjusters have tactics to make you reveal unnecessary information.
Tactics Insurance Adjusters May Use to Reduce or Deny Your Claim
When someone is at fault for an accident, those injured file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Many assume that as long as all paperwork is in order, the process will go smoothly. However, since the insurer is losing money by paying a claim, insurance adjusters may use a variety of tactics to minimize it.
- Assigning partial fault - Make sure to have ample evidence (a copy of the accident report, photographs, witness statements, etc.) that places most (if not all) of the blame on the insurer’s client.
- Saying you filed the claim or lawsuit too late - Make sure to check the Georgia statute of limitations and file your claim early.
- Only covering certain costs - The insurer may claim that only your out-of-pocket costs are covered if, for example, your insurance kicked in and paid some of your medical costs.
- Offering very little - Do not feel pressured to accept the first settlement offer; ask how the insurer arrived at the number, then work with your attorney to negotiate a fairer value.
- Having you sign waivers – Take any papers or waivers to your attorney first.
- Having you sign a medical release form – Consult your lawyer before signing anything.
- Pressuring you into giving a recorded statement – Once again, this is not an obligation. First consult your attorney about giving a recorded statement. If you do talk to the insurer, only discuss the information mentioned above.
Speaking with an Attorney in Atlanta
You may decide to settle directly with the insurance company, but remember: in 1999, the Insurance Research Council found that claimants who hired an attorney received an average of 3.5 times more than those who did not. So consult an attorney for help dealing with an insurance adjuster. He can coach you on what to say and what not to say, and can handle any negotiations or other insurance and legal issues that arise. Contact The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. today at 404-474-0804.