After you’ve been in a car accident, you’ll likely have to deal with an insurance adjuster. This can be a stressful experience. You may have even heard horror stories about insurance adjusters trying to offer you less than your injuries are worth or disputing fault entirely.
But that doesn’t have to be the inevitable outcome. In this post, we outline the key things you should do when you’re asked for a statement from an insurance adjuster after a car accident.
What Do Insurance Adjusters Do?
An insurance adjuster is a representative of an insurance company. When you’re in an accident primarily caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, an insurance adjuster — representing the at-fault driver or party’s insurance company — will get in touch with you to request a statement about what happened and how the accident occurred.
The adjuster will use this information to determine if their client (the driver or third party they represent) is liable for the accident and should offer a settlement. If they are, the adjuster will also help determine how much that settlement should be.
However, remember that insurance companies are in the business of making money, and every time they have to honor an insurance policy and pay a settlement or bills, it cuts into their profits.
So how should you act, and what should you say when approached for a statement after your car accident?
Be Polite When Speaking To An Adjuster After A Car Accident
Immediately after a car accident and in the days following, you’re in a vulnerable position. In addition to being in physical pain caused by your injuries, you may also feel upset, worried about being out of work or paying medical bills, and angry at the person or organization responsible for your accident. If a loved one tragically died in a car accident, you’re likely to be distraught. In any case, it can be difficult to stay calm.
However, if you’re asked to give a statement, try to be as polite as possible. Getting angry or defensive toward the adjuster can hurt your chances of getting a fair settlement.
Be Careful What You Say
When speaking with an insurance adjuster after a car accident, it’s vital to remember the insurance adjuster is not on your side — they are working for the insurance company. This means they can use what you say against you.
Avoid making any statements about your role in the accident. For instance, an innocent comment that you didn’t see the other driver could be turned against you to indicate you weren’t paying attention to the road — even if the accident was entirely the other driver’s fault.
When you do speak, keep the details limited. You can answer basic questions about the accident: where it happened and who was involved. But it’s okay to politely refuse to answer questions about how the accident occurred and the injuries you sustained. Some injuries get worse over time or don’t manifest symptoms until later, so if you don’t mention them in an initial statement, it can make it difficult for you to get compensation for them. So if an insurance adjuster asks, just say you’re still getting treatment for your injuries.
It’s also important to be careful what you say over social media. You might want to post about your accident right away to tell your friends and loved ones you’re okay. But the insurance company will look at your social media profiles for anything they can use to deny or dispute your claim.
This could be downplaying the extent of your injuries after you post photos of yourself doing activities that they might argue you wouldn’t be able to do with your injuries. Generally, it’s best to avoid social media until your case is resolved, but if you must use it, be mindful of how you present yourself.
Don’t Be Pushed Into Accepting An Early Offer
After your car accident, an insurance adjuster will often try to pressure you into taking a low offer immediately. They might tell you horror stories about your claim taking a long time to settle and encourage you to accept an early offer so that you can all move on. You may be tempted to take a lower settlement because you have medical bills to pay and a family to look after, but it’s rarely advisable.
Negotiations can indeed take some time, but the payoff is worth it.
Let’s say you’ve injured your wrist in a car accident. The moment you accept a settlement, you release the responsible party from all liability. So if your injuries get worse later, you can’t go back and claim again.
In this case, your wrist might not heal correctly, requiring surgery. Even then, you might be left with permanent weakness affecting every aspect of your life. For example, when you go to the shops, you could struggle to carry the bags to your car. Picking up your young children to comfort them could be difficult, as could cleaning the house. You may even struggle at work.
You’re entitled to compensation for the impact your injury has on your life, but if you accept the first offer on the table, you may not appreciate the full extent of that impact until long after you’ve settled your claim.
So, if you’re offered a settlement from an insurance adjuster immediately after your car accident, try to remain calm and remember it’s your right to negotiate a fair settlement. There’s no need to rush into an agreement, and if you are concerned about paying for your medical treatment, speak to a car wreck lawyer — they can delay your payment until after your claim is settled.
Take Pictures Of The Damage And Keep A Detailed Record Of Expenses
Evidence is crucial to negotiating a fair settlement and successfully claiming compensation. If possible, take photos of your injuries and the damage to your vehicle after the accident.
However, you’ll also want to keep a detailed record of all expenses related to the car accident. These include:
- Medical expenses, such as ambulance transportation, hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and prescription costs.
- Car repair bills or estimated costs. If your car is totaled, you’ll need evidence of how much it was worth.
- Lost wages due to time off work.
This evidence will be presented to the insurance company to process your claim and determine a settlement. While it’s important to gather evidence as quickly as possible to ensure a smooth and efficient process, don’t be afraid to take the time to see how your recovery goes. You may not need surgery until many months after your accident, but you can still recover the costs as part of your claim.
Get In Touch With A Car Accident Lawyer
A dedicated lawyer is a valuable partner in filing your compensation claim. They can help with the entire process, from dealing with an insurance adjuster after your car accident to negotiating your settlement and advising on whether it’s fair.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with an insurance adjuster is this:
You don’t have to.
You’re under no obligation to speak to anyone about your accident — your attorney can do it for you.
Another benefit of hiring a lawyer is that they can look at any paperwork and explain what you’re agreeing to before you sign.
After being in an accident, the last thing you want to do is unwittingly sign away your rights.
Of course, you don’t have to hire a car accident attorneys at all — you might choose to handle your claim yourself to avoid paying legal fees. However, the law is complex, and insurance adjusters can be stubborn. Our attorneys know the law and are experienced negotiators who understand the tactics insurance companies use to minimize a claim. Often, the amount you receive when working with a personal injury lawyer is more — even after fees — than if you were to do it yourself and keep the full amount.
Our personal injury lawyers in Greenville, SC, can determine if you have a claim, help you collect evidence, arrange medical treatment, negotiate with insurance companies, so you don’t have to, and more. All at no cost to you — you only pay if you win your case and when you receive your settlement.
This also means you can focus on your recovery without the stress of negotiating with an insurance adjuster.
Dealing with an insurance adjuster after your car accident can be hard, especially if you’re not sure what to do. Our car accident lawyers in Greenville, South Carolina, are dedicated to protecting your rights and fighting to get you the compensation you deserve. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact The Clardy Law Firm today.