If you’ve been in a car accident in or near Riverside, Jacksonville or Palatka, FL, you can protect your interests by following a few helpful tips.
After a car accident, it’s natural to want to settle your insurance claim as fast as possible. However, the time it takes to settle your claim and the amount of your award – in part – are determined by what you do after an accident.
There are things that you should understand before you speak to an adjuster. Intuitively, you probably want to give the insurance claims adjuster every detail possible so that they can make a decision quickly. However, your candidness could hurt your case.
Understanding What Happens After an Accident
Many victims believe that insurance companies are there to help after the accident. This belief is true – in theory.
In reality, insurance is a business. Insurance companies have but one purpose, and that’s to make a profit. They accept premiums from clients and pay out as little as possible.
That’s their business model. It’s your job to make sure that you recoup your losses from an accident – not the insurance company’s.
Sometimes, a claims adjuster will seem like a lovely person. Often, an adjuster will speak to you politely, hoping that their pleasant demeanor will prevent you from hiring a lawyer and compel you to accept a partial settlement.
You should exercise extreme caution when talking to claims adjusters. You do have to communicate with them, but you should only give them the information that they need to process your claim. The best thing that you can do is hire a lawyer to protect your interests during the negotiation.
Meanwhile, there are a few things that you should consider as you work toward settling your claim.
Talk to a Lawyer Before Talking to an Insurance Claims Adjuster
An experienced Riverside car accident lawyer will prepare you for the process. By understanding how claims work, you’ll know what to expect during the conversation.
Your lawyer can also give you specific guidance for your case. They’ll tell you what to say – and what not to say. Working with experienced malpractice attorneys increases your odds of receiving the most compensation for your injuries.
Talk to the Claims Adjuster With Your Lawyer Present
Ideally, you should have a lawyer participate in the call with the claim adjuster, even if you have already spoken with the lawyer in advance. It’s a good idea for them to coach you during the call with the adjuster.
A lawyer can stop you from answering questions that can hurt your claim. Furthermore, an experienced lawyer can help you deal with a hostile or aggressive adjuster.
Stay Calm During the Conversation
After an accident, it’s normal to feel stressed. If you’re not careful, some claims adjusters may take advantage of your desire to resolve the situation quickly.
In this case, the claims adjuster may solicit information to decrease the amount of your payout. If successful, they could ensure that you receive no compensation at all for your accident.
Some claims adjusters are hostile during the interview because they want to trick you into revealing information that will hurt your case. If you’re upset, you may slip and ruin your chances for fair compensation. However, if your counselor is present on the call, they can prevent you from making this mistake.
Document Who You’re Talking to Before Revealing Any Information
When the adjuster calls, take down their name, phone number, address, the name of the insurance company and the name of the person they’re representing. Also, ask the adjuster for the claim number.
After the call, write down any details about the conversation. You should keep all the information in a safe place in case you need it later.
Always Tell the Truth
You may feel guilty about how the accident happened. Nevertheless, don’t freely and openly admit that you were at fault.
Despite what you remember, you may not have caused the accident. However, admitting guilt early on makes it harder for you to prove your innocence later.
However, never lie to a claims adjuster. You can refuse to answer their questions and share information. However, if you tell them misleading or false information, you can damage your credibility.
Lying to an adjuster is especially perilous if you go to trial. You could face charges of insurance fraud. Even worse, the state could choose to pursue criminal charges.
Use the Call to Find Out Information
When the adjuster calls, use the opportunity to find out more about the case. Make it a point to find out if anyone witnessed the accident. The adjuster may have information that you don’t.
Even if the witness account is harmful to your case, it helps to know that someone saw the accident. If the witness doesn’t support your claim, your lawyer can help you prepare an argument to counter their testimony.
Now that you know how to talk to insurance claims adjusters, there are few things that you should avoid.
Never Agree to Have Your Conversation Recorded
An adjuster must inform you if they are recording the conversation. You are not obligated to speak to an adjuster when they are recording. It’s in your best interest to refuse to go on formal record speaking to the adjuster.
You could accidentally say something that can hurt your case. If you do so, the adjuster will more than likely use that recording against you in court.
Don’t Give out Excess Personal Information
Be very careful when talking to the adjuster. When the adjuster calls, limit the personal information that you reveal to basic facts. For example, you should only tell them your name, phone number and address. There’s no need to reveal your income, work schedule, employment information or details about your personal life.
Also, don’t make an official statement. Even if the adjuster does ask for an official statement, they may try to discover information through casual conversation.
Do Not Discuss the Accident in Depth
Remain polite but inform the adjuster that you won’t discuss details about the accident. The adjuster will attempt to find out facts that will reduce your claim. Moreover, they will try to find out information that may expose you to liability.
Only give out basic information about the accident. Don’t discuss how the accident happened. For instance, tell the adjuster where the accident occurred, about the drivers and passengers and about the vehicles involved.
Don’t Talk About Your Injuries
After an accident, it takes physicians time to diagnose all your injuries. You may not experience pain from the accident right away.
You do want to disclose injuries, but it’s best to do so in a written letter prepared by your lawyer. In this regard, don’t miss any doctor’s appointments.
Furthermore, don’t participate in any activities that can make your injuries worse. Doing so can affect your chances of receiving full compensation for your accident.
Don’t Make Agreements With the Adjuster
Finally, do not make an agreement of any kind with the adjuster. Although you want to remain polite, do not allow the adjuster to think that you agree with their statements.
Furthermore, don’t agree to any proposed resolution offered by the claim adjuster. Allow an attorney to handle the settlement and collect a written offer. At the least, you want to give yourself time to think about the offer and whether it’s fair compensation for your injuries.
Think of a lawyer as a teammate who will protect your best interest after an accident. They can tell you what to say so that you don’t reduce your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries.
Adjusters are very skilled and experienced in using subtle and casual conversation to solicit responses that can hurt your chances of collecting a claim. You should include your lawyer in all post-accident activities – especially the conversation with the adjuster.
Even if you believe that there’s no way to lose your case, a poor choice of words can hurt your claim considerably. A lawyer will level the playing field. They are just as skilled – if not more so – as the claims adjuster.
Learn How to Prepare to Speak With the Insurance Claims Adjuster
Many things can happen after an accident. It’s a challenging time. You have to deal with all the things that are affected by the damage to yourself and your vehicle.
Knowing what to say to an insurance claims adjuster is a great first step. However, every accident is different. An experienced personal injury attorney in or around Jacksonville, FL can help you navigate your unique accident experience.
Of course, you do everything possible to stay safe on the road, but accidents happen. Don’t just go online and look for “lawyers near me” or “attorneys in Palatka, FL.” Work with a counselor with a proven track record of success.
I’m a Florida native who understands the local legal system. If you’re in an accident, make sure that the insurance company compensates you for your injuries adequately. Contact me today for a free consultation.