Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is difficult enough without navigating the tricky language of an insurance claims adjuster. Unfortunately, the claims adjuster will not be on your side during negotiations. It is the adjuster’s job to resolve the claim with as little liability to the insurance company as possible.
During conversations with an insurance adjuster, be careful what you say. The adjuster will look for any opportunity to use what you say against you.
1. Admitting Fault
Never admit fault or use apologetic language during conversations with claims adjusters. The adjuster will be investigating your accident and looking for ways to absolve the insurance company of fault. Stating that you are to blame for the accident during your conversation with the adjuster could destroy your chances of securing compensation.
Even if you think you are at fault, do not admit so over the phone. Instead, wait for an official investigation to prove fault. There could be a third variable in play you are unaware of, such as the other driver’s comparative fault or a vehicle defect.
2. Speculating About What Happened
Be polite, but decline to provide answers to questions when you do not know the facts. Do not speculate or give your opinion as to what you believe happened, or you think is to blame. Speculative statements could serve to hurt your case, as the adjuster could later use it as evidence that you changed your story. Keep your answers to the adjuster’s questions as short and succinct as possible. Tell the truth, but do not give details the adjuster does not ask for.
If you are unsure about the answer to a question, politely decline to say anything. Spreading inaccurate statements could come back to damage your claim.
3. Giving Information About Your Injuries
The insurance adjuster will most likely ask you information about your injuries. While this may seem like a routine question, you do not have to answer. Explain to the adjuster that you will disclose information about your injuries when you and your accident attorney draft a demand letter to the insurance company, not over the phone. It can be tempting to go into detail about your injuries right away, but you may not know their full extent at this point. Wait until the adrenaline fades and a physician can give you a full diagnosis before talking about your injuries. Otherwise, the adjuster may assume your injuries are more minor than they are.
4. Making a Recorded Statement
You are under no legal obligation to agree to give a recorded statement to a claims adjuster. Most will ask you to do so in the hopes that you will agree. It is within your rights, however, to politely refuse. Under no circumstances can a claims adjuster require you to give a recorded statement.
Saying no is wise because it protects you from the adjuster using this statement against you in the future. Many will try to catch you changing your story later. Even a minute difference could cast a shadow of doubt as to your credibility. For this reason, decline giving a recorded statement.
5. Accepting the First Settlement Offer
Finally, do not say yes to your first settlement offer. Even if the insurance adjuster says it is the last or final offer, do not accept until you have spoken to a personal injury attorney. First offers are usually much lower than the true value of the claim. Most insurance companies hope the victim will not realize this, and accept before they can get a second opinion.
Do not make this mistake. Contact a Las Vegas personal injury attorney right away after a serious car accident. A lawyer will work for you, not for an insurance company. Your attorney can communicate with a claims adjuster on your behalf so you do not make any harmful mistakes.