Just as you have no way of knowing that you will be in a motor vehicle accident, you also have no idea what could happen in the days and weeks after being involved in such an accident. The outcome of the accident and how your life will unfold from that point forward will largely depend on the type and severity of your injuries and your overall prognosis, and it may seem as if your entire life has been put on hold for the moment.
Despite all of these unknowns, you can be almost certain that you will have to deal with an insurance adjuster at one point in the days and months that follow the accident. The insurer will contact you by phone and sometimes in person to confirm your injuries and get more information about the accident. However, if you have not yet spoken to an auto accident lawyer and are not prepared for the ways that insurance adjusters try to get information from claimants, you could actually end up damaging your chances of receiving fair compensation in your case.
What Adjusters Do
A claim adjuster, also known as a claims handler, investigates an insurance claim by speaking to witnesses and the claimant, reviewing hospital and police reports, and inspecting damage to property from the accident. Their job is to determine the liability of the insurance company.
What to Expect
Generally speaking, the insurance adjuster’s main goal is to save their employer money by under-valuing your claim wherever possible. You may not know this is happening because adjusters receive special training on how to speak to accident victims. They are told to put the victims at ease and show concern for their health, as this is a good way to get a person to talk. As soon as you do let your guard down with an adjuster, however, they can elicit a mistake from you that can be used against you later.
If, for example, you keep talking about your situation with a seemingly concerned adjuster, they may leave you so worried about your finances that you take a quick settlement that may not be fair in your case. When you accept a settlement before the full extent of your injuries and damages is known, you may end up with less than you should have gotten or will need in the future. This is especially true in cases with serious injuries, such as the long-term medical care costs and other quality of life issues that can be felt for months or years down the line.
Never allow an insurance adjuster to record a conversation with you without speaking to your auto accident lawyer about it first. Anything you say can be used against you later, or you may find your words are being taken out of context to hurt your own claim. In addition, you may be asked to sign a medical authorization so the adjuster has access to your medical records. However, if you sign a blank authorization form, the adjuster will be able to access all of your records and not just the ones that are directly related to your accident. This can result in the adjuster claiming some or all of your injuries are pre-existing conditions and not from the accident.
Another common trick used by insurance companies is to add more and more requirements for proof of lost wages from your job. As you are recovering from your injuries, this is an attempt to bury you in paperwork until you decide to give up and focus on your recovery instead.
When you have an auto accident lawyer, they can handle the interactions with the insurance company instead so you can limit your contact with the company and worry about your recovery instead. An experienced attorney is already familiar with the methods and tricks insurers use to try to devalue claims and will not be caught out by those tactics. When you have a legal advocate working for you, it may boost your chances of getting fair and full compensation for your injuries and losses stemming from the accident.