Do I need an car accident attorney? One of the trickiest aspects of a car accident claim is knowing how to deal with insurance adjusters. And, one of the biggest mistakes that a car accident victim can make is assuming that an insurance adjuster is one their side and is looking out for their best interests.
The Insurance Adjustor Works For the Company, Not For You
An insurance adjuster is, plain and simple, a tool of an insurance company whose job is to save the insurance company money. As such, the insurance adjuster will be looking for any and all ways to devalue your claim. Approaching an insurance adjuster with your guard up is recommended.
- Do not give a statement without an attorney present. You may think that giving a statement to the insurance company is not only innocuous, but something that you are required to do. However, you have the right to refuse to give a statement until you have legal representation. If you say something that can be construed in a way that suggests you acted irresponsibly or were at fault, the insurance adjuster will use this against you.
- Do not share more than you know for certain. People are often tempted to tell the insurance adjuster as much as they can about an accident. But unless you know a fact to be true, do not share it. For example, do not tell the insurance adjuster that you think you were going the speed limit, or that you believe another car pulled out in front of you. Every statement that you make should be concrete and absolute. If you do not know the answer to a question that you are asked, simply say “I do not know.”
- Do not sign anything without having it reviewed first by an attorney. The insurance adjuster may present you with an array of documents and ask you to sign them. Unless you are absolutely positive of what you are signing and what your signature may mean, do not sign. Your insurance adjuster may be trying to get you to sign a document releasing your medical records – which, believe or not, could then be used against you – or worse, such as trying to get you to sign a settlement offer. If you sign the latter, you are releasing the insurance company from further liability, meaning that you cannot pursue any more damages. Never accept a settlement amount without having it reviewed by an attorney first. Chances are, it is way less than you deserve, and you can get more by negotiating for a higher settlement offer.
- Remain polite and professional. Dealing with an insurance adjuster can be frustrating. But no matter how frustrated or angry you feel, it is important that you remain polite and professional. If you do not feel as though you can control your emotions when dealing with the insurance adjuster, ask your attorney to represent you.
In addition to the tips above, remember that it is essential that you report your car accident to your insurance company in a timely manner; failure to do so may jeopardize your ability to recover compensation. Additionally, never exaggerate or hyperbolize what happened; be truthful and honest when speaking to an insurance adjuster.