Should You Talk to the Insurance Company After Your Car Accident?
Every car insurance policy states you need to report any crash to your insurance company. After you call to report the crash, the insurance company will open a claim, assign you a claim number and assign the claim to one of their adjusters. The claim being opened is when the insurance company begins its investigation into how your car accident occurred and whether you were injured. The insurance company will start to accumulate evidence including getting the police report, visit the scene of the crash and take photographs of any evidence at the scene, like skid marks. The adjuster will also immediately seek out any witnesses, so statements may be taken. The adjuster will also seek to have you sign a medical authorization so they can get your medical records.
While your insurance policy requires you to cooperate with your own company, there is no legal or contractual requirement to assist with or speak to the other car’s insurance company. So, when determining if you must cooperate with an insurance company, the critical issue is to make sure you are certain which insurance company is calling you. As a general rule, we ask our clients not to talk to the other vehicle’s insurance company, and simply refer their inquiries to our office.What You Should Tell Your Insurance Adjuster
It is correct to say that your own insurance company’s adjuster’s is there to help you through the claims process, by assisting with arranging for a rental car and repairs. Although they are there to help, it is important to be careful, ultimately it is the adjuster’s job to protect the insurance company not only from potential claims by others, but from allowing you to maximize your recovery. The adjuster will want to discuss, through a recorded statement, your version of how the crash happened, and may seek to learn about your injuries and medical care – all the while trying to determine if the insurance company should deny or limit your claim.
Because of the conflicting interests between you and your insurance company, if you decide to talk to your insurance company you should only provide them with the most basic information about the accident, including date, time and location of the accident, and identifying the other vehicles in the crash. Other information you may provide include the name of any police departments which responded to the scene and the police report number, if you have it. But again, but certain you are talking to your insurance company. Often both vehicles in a crash are insured by the same insurance company; so, while you may be talking to your insurance company, be sure it is your adjuster, and not the adjuster for the other vehicle, with whom you are speaking.Be on Guard When Talking to the Other Insurance Company
The other car’s insurance company will also be investigating the accident, so it is likely they too will have an adjuster trying to get ahold of you to try to take a statement – the sole purpose of which is to use your own words against you at a later time. So as not to be confused, it is critical to confirm which insurance company’s adjuster is calling you.
The insurance adjuster will certainly ask you questions that may be purposefully misleading or confusing, so you make statements which may not be accurate and which they will use against you at a later date. As it pertains to your injuries, you may not have received appropriate medical care yet, so your self-diagnosis may not be correct. Again, the insurance company will later use your own words against you.
It is for these, and many other reasons, it is important to talk with a lawyer before giving any statements to the other driver’s insurance company. If you find yourself talking to an adjuster, be sure you fully understand the questions they are asking and keep your answers short. Volunteering information generally will only come back to haunt you.
It is also important not to exaggerate or guess. If you do not know the answers to a question, do not guess – simply state “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Guessing, even a so-called educated guess, will only get you into trouble later – especially if you guess wrong.
Other important considerations to remember when talking to another insurance company are – avoid providing detailed information or specifics about your pain and diagnosed injuries. It is perfectly fine to simply let the adjuster know you are receiving medical care, but if they try to pin you down, remember you do not have your medical records, so you may not know the precise medical diagnosis your doctor has made. There is also no requirement to provide your financial information, information about your family or the specifics about what you do for a living.
Finally, and most importantly, many insurance companies may try to get you to accept a quick small offer to settle your case. If you agree to accept any sum of money, and then cash the insurance company’s check or sign a release, you will be prevented from seeking more money later. This is especially concerning if you have not received adequate medical care, meaning you do not fully understand the severity of your injuries. We always recommend you talk with an experienced personal injury attorney – one whose experience and knowledge will help you receive the maximum recovery to which you are entitled before you sign anything from an insurance company.
These are basic guidelines to pay attention to after having a car accident. While each situation is unique, it is in your best interest to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney like Joseph Lipsky, so you know your rights and may determine how to best protect yourself. Since we offer free car accident personal injury consultations, there is no reason to delay calling our office after your accident. Remember, you do not owe us anything when you hire us – we only get paid if we get you paid first.