It doesn’t matter whether you are involved in an accident for the first time or have filed many insurance claims – you should always be cautious when speaking with insurance companies. While you should feel like the insurance companies want to help you, the truth is that they only want to help themselves.
Insurance companies are businesses at the end of the day and focus on paying out as few claims as possible. You must use caution and cover your back because insurance adjusters will not do it for you. They will jump at any opportunity to ask you questions and use your words against you.
Instead of speaking to an insurance company, always refer all communications to your car accident attorney. Turning over communications to an experienced legal professional will ensure you do not accidentally say anything wrong. Your lawyer will handle every step of your claim, and all negotiations will go through them. This can eliminate your concerns about what not to say and focus on your medical care instead of constant calls with insurance adjusters.
The attempted sabotage of your claim can begin upon filing with the insurance company. After reviewing your claim, insurance adjusters will search for any information to use against you. Insurance adjusters will question everything – from the facts of the accident to the nature of your injuries.
Insurance adjusters have no shame in interviewing parties without your permission if any family, friends, or bystanders witnessed the accident. Taking it a step further, there are more extraordinary lengths that insurance adjusters will take to gather evidence to use against you.
Insurance adjusters will gather evidence to question your injuries’ severity to discredit your claim. They use many tactics to collect this evidence. One of the most common methods includes asking your permission to release a copy of your complete history of medical records.
It is illegal for insurance companies to access copies of your medical records; that is why they must ask for your permission. If you give insurance companies access to your medical records, they will search for any pre-existing conditions you might have and insinuate that pre-existing conditions caused your injuries.
Another common method of collecting evidence includes following you around all day as you complete errands or daily activities. Insurance adjusters have been notorious for taking claimants’ photos while out around town and living their lives. The insurance company uses these photos to discredit your injuries and insinuate that your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
Another way that insurance companies collect this type of evidence is through your own social media profile. Insurance adjusters will inspect every post they can access on your social media profile and search for evidence that can contradict the injuries you’ve sustained from your accident.
Once you file a claim, you want to ensure you have the best chance of receiving the compensation you request. You do not want to voluntarily or involuntarily provide information that the insurance company can use against you in your claim.
While your claim is in progress, you want to limit the communication between yourself and the insurance company as much as possible. However, there will be times when you have to offer information to the insurance representatives or adjusters. When speaking with them, here are some general things you want to avoid saying.
One thing you never want to say is that you were at fault for an accident. The insurance companies will cling to those words and use them against you down the line when it is time to prove liability. You want to avoid making statements insinuating that you were even partially at fault for an accident, like “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t see the other car.” This can be enough for them to reduce your offer and accuse you of partially causing the accident.
You want to avoid expressing personal opinions about the car accident. It is always better to relay the known facts of the accident to an insurer and not what you believe happened. You want to avoid making statements like “in my opinion” or “I think” in front of insurance adjusters because they can assume you aren’t sure who was to blame. If there is some information that you do not know, it is always better to say you do not know instead of making a guess.
One of the worst statements you can make to an insurance adjuster is that you feel fine after an accident. Until you have a full medical examination, you do not want to admit that you are feeling fine or have not experienced any injuries. You do not know how your injuries will worsen after an accident, especially if you were involved in a car accident. Even if you are not feeling any injuries now, that can result from the adrenaline released during your accident.
You might be having a better day pain-wise or simply reply, “I’m fine,” when the adjuster asks how you are. This seems harmless, but it can complicate the settlement process.
You want to avoid making any statements about your medical condition or how you feel around insurance adjusters.
You also want to avoid giving the insurance company any names or numbers of your family members or friends. Once insurance companies have this information, they can harass your loved ones and try to obtain additional information about your accident. Even giving the insurance company your physician’s contact information can work against your claim.
Another thing you want to avoid is giving the insurance companies a recorded statement. Many insurance companies will request that you submit a recorded statement that gives a little more detail about your accident.
In reality, insurance companies use this information to search for any contradictory information between the information provided in your claim and what you say in your recorded statement. Always know that you have the right to refuse to submit a recorded statement to the insurance company – and you should. If they insinuate that it is mandatory, seek a lawyer immediately.
You want to avoid giving the insurance company unnecessary details they did not ask for. If the insurance company did not ask about the speed you were traveling, for example, do not willingly share that information with the adjusters.
Never tell an adjuster that you “think” you have certain injuries, such as whiplash. You might feel neck pain and stiffness, but without a clear diagnosis from a medical professional, you should never mention a specific condition or injury.
Another thing you do not want to do is accept the first settlement offer without legal guidance. While insurance companies will offer you a settlement to end your claim, most initial offers are lowball offers. Insurance companies will lowball you, hoping you accept the offer out of desperation. Before accepting an offer, you want to make sure that you consult with a lawyer and learn whether you can negotiate for a more significant settlement.
Remember that if you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company, you forfeit certain legal rights once the settlement agreement is final. For example, when you accept your settlement offer, you have to give up the right to pursue legal action against the negligent party in the future. That means that the car accident settlement amount you obtain from the insurance company is all you can retrieve for your compensation, regardless of how your injuries progress.
Because you are forfeiting so much for a certain amount of compensation, you want to ensure that the compensation is enough to cover the full extent of your injuries. Again, before accepting a settlement offer, it is always better to speak with an experienced lawyer to determine whether the offer is worth accepting.
Generally speaking, you should not say anything – at all – to insurers without a car accident lawyer to represent you. When insurance companies know you do not have an attorney, they are more likely to take advantage of you and try certain tactics against you.
Hiring an attorney forces insurance companies to give more respect and attention to your claim. Even if you do not have a lawyer at the moment, do not tell the insurance companies. Seek a lawyer as soon as possible.
Seeking a lawyer to assist with your claim may seem stressful or unnecessary. You may assume you can handle the insurance company’s tricks yourself. Unfortunately, insurance companies are hoping that you make this decision. When you seek the counsel of a lawyer, you will have a second set of eyes who can see the insurance company’s tactics coming a mile away. Here are several ways a lawyer can help you with your accident claim.
One way a lawyer can assist you is by offering practical advice regarding every aspect of your claim. Lawyers are familiar with how accident and injury claims typically resolve and can offer practical advice that protects your best interests.
Lawyers can advise you on how to proceed once your claim is in progress, including how to conduct yourself on social media and what actions to avoid during your process.
Another benefit of having a lawyer is that they can serve as the middleman between yourself and the insurance company. Having a lawyer represent you allows you to limit the amount of communication between yourself and the insurance adjusters. They can request any information they need regarding your claim through your attorney. This prevents you from providing additional details of your accident or facing requests to submit a recorded statement. If the insurance company needs additional information from you, your lawyer can provide it for them.
Lawyers can also help you obtain the full compensation you deserve for your accident. Insurance companies are known for offering lowball settlements, and too many people accept them. To prevent being short-changed by the insurance company, you can hire a lawyer who can help you negotiate for a higher settlement.
Lawyers regularly deal with lowball offers by insurance companies and can negotiate for better settlements on your behalf. They have negotiating skills and can present additional evidence to support your claim. When necessary, they can threaten to initiate litigation to induce the insurance company to raise its offer.
While many accident claims result in a settlement, there are occasions when insurance companies are too stubborn to come to a mutual agreement with you. When this happens, you want a lawyer on your side who is more than willing to allow your claim to advance to litigation.
Initiating a lawsuit can lead to a successful outcome in many cases. Your lawyer will know how to use the information exchanged in discovery as a negotiating tool, showing the insurance company how strong your case might be in the courtroom. Often, insurance companies want to limit the chances of going to trial, so they might make a fair settlement once you file your claim. Often, litigation is the leverage your claim needs to achieve the compensation you deserve, and your lawyer can advise on this.
When speaking with insurance companies about your accident claim, you want to limit the amount of communication between yourself and the insurance company as much as possible. Seeking a lawyer’s counsel can help prevent you from giving too much information to the insurance adjusters, as your attorney will speak to them for you.
Time is of the essence following a car accident, so reach out for legal help right away.