What Not To Tell Your Insurance Company
After a car accident, your own words are critical. There is not much you can say that can win your case or get you more money. However, you can say things that can lose your case for you or reduce the money you receive. Knowing what you should not say to an insurance adjuster is critical.
In reality, you should not even be at the point of worrying about what not to say because you should have an experienced personal injury lawyer attorney speaking with the insurance company on your behalf. However, if you have not hired an attorney yet, you may be pushed by the insurance company to say something. Here, you can make a significant mistake that you cannot undo.
Never Ever Admit Fault
The most important thing never to do when speaking with an insurance company after an accident is to admit any fault for the accident. The minute you do that, you can assume that your chances of obtaining financial compensation for the accident are gone. You cannot take it back once you say that you did something to cause the accident.
Admitting fault goes beyond just saying that you were to blame for the accident. This possibility can include apologizing for what happened or saying that you did not see another driver. There are indirect ways of admitting fault that can equal saying the same thing.
The Insurance Adjuster Is Not on Your Side
You may think you have spoken innocent words after a crash that do not mean much of anything. The insurance company hears them in an entirely different fashion. They hear that they may not have to pay money out of their account for your damages. Given that money is their primary motivating purpose and the reason for their existence, any chance that they get to save money will be a nugget that they will firmly grasp.
Remember that the insurance adjuster sent to investigate the crash is not on your side. They are on the side of the company that employs them, and the other driver’s insurance company expects the adjuster to find ways to save money when possible. Your own words can give them the ammunition they need to make your life harder and take money away from you that you otherwise deserved.
1. Do Not Ever Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company
If you do speak with the insurance adjuster for the responsible driver, you should never go on the record with any statement. You will be the only one who pays the price for anything that goes wrong during a recorded statement. If you have a personal injury lawyer, they will strongly urge you not to do this. There are virtually no reasons why you should try this. It almost always ends badly for the person who trusts the insurance adjuster.
When the insurance company has your voice and your words recorded, they will get a powerful tool. Like any self-interested party, they can take snippets or pieces of your statement and take them out of context.
They can and will ask you detailed questions to trip you up and get you to make one wrong statement. Any slight misstep when giving a recorded statement can cost you a lot of money. It can even cost you your claim entirely. Once the words come out of your mouth and become part of a recording, you cannot take them back, and they are permanently on the record for use against you.
You are under no legal obligation whatsoever to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. They want to get a statement from you, but you do not have to provide one. If asked, you can and should politely decline and refer them to your attorney (who they should have gone through in the first place). The problem is when you do not have a lawyer and do not even know that this is something completely optional (and discouraged).
2. Do Not Try to Make It Seem Like You Are Fine
In addition, you should never downplay your injuries to an insurance company or even talk about your condition at all. An insurance adjuster may make a big deal out of expressing concern and sympathy for you in the wake of your injuries. A comment as simple as “I’ll be ok” is enough to cause damage to your claim.
In similar regard, you should not say anything to an adjuster that does not directly relate to your case. Even pleasantries can cost you money. For example, they may ask you what you did last weekend, and it seems that they are making conversation. They are probing whether your claims of being too injured to work are consistent with the rest of your life.
If you try to play down your injury to an insurance adjuster, they will try to use it against you when it comes time to make a settlement offer and negotiate compensation. They will remember that you may have admitted that you are not as badly hurt as your claim says on paper, even if that is not what you meant to say.
3. Don’t Guess About What Injuries You Did or Did Not Acquire
The truth is that you may not even know the full extent of your injuries the first time that you speak with an insurance adjuster.
You can suffer injuries from your car accident that are slow to develop, such as:
When you speak with the insurance adjuster, you may not have a complete diagnosis of your injuries or have not experienced other symptoms yet.
Telling an insurance adjuster that you are fine may close off the possibility that you can get total compensation in the future if you develop an injury that results from a car accident. You may speak with an insurance adjuster right after the crash. At that point, you may not yet know the complete picture of your physical condition. Never speculate when you do not know about your health. Even if you do know, do not discuss your physical condition with the insurance adjuster.
4. Do Not Describe Your Injuries to the Insurance Company
You should avoid downplaying your injuries, but you should not try to describe your injuries at all. Your doctor’s diagnosis and your medical records should speak for themselves. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, but you describe your injury as a slight headache, the insurance company may force you to backtrack later on if you can even do so.
Adjusters may also look for an excuse to characterize your condition as preexisting, for which they do not need to pay. Saying anything that describes your injuries to them gives you no upside. If the insurance adjuster does not get what they are looking for, they will ignore it. If they do get something helpful to their cause, they will certainly use it against you.
5. Do Not Speculate About Your Accident
Offering editorial commentary about your accident is also something you should try not to do. Stick just to the facts of what happened, without speculating about what the other drivers did or tried to do. You never quite know when editorializing about the accident can lead you to say something that gives the insurance company an opening to challenge your claim.
You should carefully avoid any statement prefaced with the words “I think.” In addition, never try to come up with a justification for what other drivers were doing because it can give the insurance company the grounds to challenge you. Always err on the side of saying that you do not recall something instead of giving a statement that can stray from what really happened just because you want to have something to say.
In reality, the best thing is not to speak with an insurance company after an accident. They certainly want to talk to you early and often, and they will try everything they can to have a conversation with you and get you on the record. They will resort to various tricks, from not fully identifying themselves when they call or calling as if they are trying to help you. The company that is your adversary calls and tries to act as a friendly and helpful insurance company.
In the meantime, the insurance company can and will use anything that you say against you. Once they get you on the record, you can count on hearing your words taken out of context, played back, and repeated. The insurance company will do anything that they can to save themselves money. If you have told them that you are doing fine, they may use your words to dispute your damages.
6. Do Not Speak With the Insurance Company When They Call You
If the insurance company tries to speak with you, the best thing to do is politely decline their attempt to talk. This is one place where you are more protected if you have an attorney. Your lawyer will handle communications with the insurance company. They will need to go through your lawyer to talk to you, and your lawyer will keep them at bay.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will almost always advise their client that there is no upside in talking with an insurance company. If there was a reason to speak with them, your attorney will be present during the conversation and will extensively prepare you for it.
Call a Lawyer so You Do Not Have to Deal With the Insurance Company
The most crucial step you can take is reaching out to an experienced lawyer right after your car accident. Your attorney will assume responsibility for your legal process and claim, relieving you of the pitfalls of dealing with an insurance company and trying to avoid conversations with them when possible.
Hiring a lawyer can keep you from saying things that can cost you money and harm the viability of your claim. An attorney knows how to communicate with the insurance company when necessary, keeping you from trying to freelance.
Sometimes, trying to be a friendly and nice person in a simple conversation can backfire when the person you are talking to is taking notes to use everything against you to cost you money.
The Insurance Company Has a Built-in Advantage Over You
Recognize that the insurance company will have an advantage over you if you are trying to handle them on your own. There is no such thing as being more intelligent than an insurance company because each adjuster has seen thousands of claims just like yours. They have an established way of doing things, and you simply cannot talk an adjuster into giving you the money you deserve. In fact, the more you talk, the worse off your legal situation may become.
There is an art to dealing with the insurance company that an experienced lawyer knows based on their practice. The crucial element is not to deal with a company with an entire infrastructure designed to take money out of your pocket. The best call you can make is to a lawyer who knows how to stand up for your legal rights. This help will keep you from making a critical mistake that people make when they do not see what is coming for them until it is too late.
By hiring a lawyer, you even the playing field against the insurance company. You will not have to worry whether you said – or might say – something that can jeopardize your claim and limit your financial recovery. A lawyer might speed up the process by limiting claim complications and knows how to fight for the full compensation you need to cover your losses.