After an accident, you will hear from insurance adjusters about your property damage and/or bodily injury claim. Adjusters from both your insurance company, as well as the other vehicle’s insurance company, may contact you about the crash. This is a simple guide on how to deal with insurance adjusters after a car accident.
Quick Summary of How to Deal with Insurance Adjusters:
- Find Out which Insurance Company the Adjuster Represents.
- If they are from your own Insurance Company, you have a Duty to Cooperate with them.
- If they Represent the other Party’s Insurance Company, be Careful –
- Do Not Speak to other Adjuster Directly. Have a Friend or Lawyer Speak to them.
- Do Not give the Other Side a Recorded Statement.
- Do Not Sign any Documents from the Other Insurance Adjuster.
- Do Not Settle Your Claim too Quickly.
- Consult with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer to Protect Your Rights.
Here’s the Deal: You Need to Know which Company the Adjuster Represents
When your phone rings and it is an insurance adjuster calling to talk to you about your claim, find out which insurance company is calling you.
It is extremely important to know which insurance company the adjuster works for when speaking with them and how to deal with insurance adjusters after a car accident to protect your rights. This is because insurance adjusters interests’ align with the insurance company they represent and the insured.
Sometimes it is your own insurance company, and more often, it is the adjuster who works for the company that only cares about their insured, not you.
1: How to Deal with Insurance Adjusters from Your Own Insurance Company
Under your insurance policy, you as the insured have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company. Cooperation means: participating in the investigation of the claim.
Your insurance company needs to know what happened and how bad was it for a few reasons. First, if you were injured, they will have to pay your PIP (no fault benefits).
Is Filling Out a PIP Application Okay?
Next, they will need you to fill out a PIP application, which includes a medical records authorization form. This form allows them to look at the medical records related to the medical bills that are presented to them for payment. This is a perfectly normal request you should comply with.
Then, your insurance company also needs to know if you were at fault in any way. This is because if you were at fault, someone might make a claim against you. So they need to be prepared to defend that claim if it exists.
What Happens if I Don’t Cooperate with my Own Insurance Company?
In some cases, your insurance adjuster will request a recorded statement from you about what happened. You must give your insurance company a recorded statement or they can deny paying your claim. After the recorded statement, your insurance adjuster uses the information to determine who was at fault.
What if I was at Fault? Will my Insurance Company Pay?
If you were at fault, your insurance company will attempt to take care of the damages you may be at fault for. If you were at fault in some way, your insurance will cover the bodily injuries sustained by the other party up to the policy limits under your coverage.
But, your insurance company will ultimately decide whether they will pay any claims against you and the amount to be paid. So, if you have to give a recorded statement, you would be well advised to get help from an attorney to protect your rights.
2: How to Deal with Insurance Adjusters from the Other Party’s Insurance Company
Beware of Recorded Statements
If you were not at fault for an accident, the other party’s insurance adjuster will request a recorded statement. But, in this case, you are not required to give a recorded statement at all. It is purely voluntary. Beware of recorded statements
Giving a Recorded Statement to the Other Side Will Never Help You
You do not, under any circumstances, have to give the other party’s insurance company a recorded statement. As an experienced personal injury lawyer, I tell my clients to avoid recorded statements to the other party’s insurance. They can use and misconstrue anything you say in their favor.
How do I Avoid Giving a Recorded Statement?
If insurance adjusters ask you for a recorded statement, say, “Not until I talk to a lawyer.” It is best if an experienced accident attorney speaks to the insurance company for you because they know how to deal with insurance adjusters after a car accident to protect your rights.
When an insurance adjuster visits your house or calls you, have a friend/relative speak with them, not you. This is because if your friend says something that is incorrect, it won’t be held against you.
What’s the Big Deal? What if I Speak to the Adjuster Myself?
If you speak with an insurance adjuster, it’s not just an unimportant, friendly chat. The insurance adjuster’s job is to save the company money. If an adjuster casually asks, “How are you today?” and you respond, “Fine,” they will write in their notes you are not hurt because you said you were fine.
Adjusters will also try to make you admit the accident was partially your fault. If you admit anything, the insurance company avoids paying the full value of your claim.
What if they Force Me to Tell them My Version of the Accident?
If you absolutely have to give your version of what happened to pay your property damage, tell them you will. But also say they are NOT allowed to record the statement. Then, if the adjuster wants to use something you said, they have to testify instead of a playing a recording.
Remember, the insurance company assumes most people don’t know how to deal with insurance adjusters after a car accident. They can easily take advantage of people during a claim.
3: Beware of Signing Documents
The other party’s insurance adjuster will ask you to sign a medical authorization to order all your medical records. As an experienced personal injury lawyer, I strongly recommend you forward your own medical records and bills to the insurance adjuster.
Some of the medical authorizations the insurance adjuster want you to sign give them the power to retrieve more information about you than what they need. And they don’t have to tell you what records they got with your release.
Dangers of Signing a Medical Release Form
Sometimes they will use the release to talk to your doctors without you even knowing about it. Or they may go way back in time and obtain records that have nothing to do at all with your injury claim. Also, the medical release won’t have an expiration date, so they might keep using your release to obtain records even after you have hired a lawyer.
Do Insurance Adjusters Know the All of the Legal Consequences?
Another major problem is insurance adjusters are usually not lawyers. Therefore they cannot fully advise you on all of the legal ramifications of signing documents or releases. That is why it is always best to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer before signing documents. Always seek advice from an attorney before signing releases.
Why Should I Review My Own Medical Records First?
Review your medical records from all the doctors you saw before giving them to the insurance adjuster. This is so you can check your medical records for any mistakes. Address any mistakes with your doctor, then submit them to the insurance company for scrutiny.
Do not rely on your doctors to know how to deal with insurance adjusters after a car accident. Always seek advice from an experienced car accident lawyer first.
4: Beware of Settling Your Case Too Quickly
Insurance adjusters may attempt to settle your bodily injury case before your medical treatment starts. An insurance adjuster could show up at the scene of the accident, or show up at your house within 24 hours of a claim trying to settle your case.
They usually try to offer a nominal amount for your “inconvenience.” An offer may be $500.00.
Why Would they Offer Money so Quickly?
Well, they probably know the value of your injury claim a lot better than you do. And if they can get you to settle before you go to the doctor, then they will have taken advantage of you.
Once you take the settlement money and sign a release, you are probably never going to bring a claim if your injuries or damages and losses turn out to be more than you anticipated.
What if I Feel Fine? Why Should I Wait to Settle My Case?
Insurance adjusters can get pushy in the process of trying to close your case quickly. Most of the time people don’t know the extent of their injuries within 24 hours. After an accident, adrenaline may still be in your system, masking any feelings of pain. Or you may be unaware of internal injuries only doctors can diagnose.
Get Cleared by Qualified Doctors First
That is why it is important to take your time and let a doctor advise you about your injuries. Taking time protects you, not the insurance company. Make sure you know the full extent of your losses and damages before you sign a release.
How Much Time Do I Have to Settle My Case?
There are time limits to all types of cases. In Florida a car accident time limit is 4 years from the date of the accident, and if you have an uninsured motorist claim it is 5 years. However, if a wrongful death is involved, then the time limit is only 2 years.
And yes, there is a 14 day time limit to go to a doctor if you want to use your PIP no fault insurance. The key to time is this, ask an experienced lawyer about how much time you have because there are exceptions to this simple explanation.
For more information on personal injury statutes of limitation in Florida, click here to read a simple explanation.
5: Why You Should Contact a Qualified Injury Attorney Quickly:
You may think you can handle your case by yourself. You might be able to. However, more often than not you need a lawyer’s help. Consider this, when you hire a personal injury attorney on a contingency fee basis (which means you only pay the attorney if they recover money for you) it does not cost you a penny more to hire them right away.
And by calling an attorney quickly, you get help sooner. The attorney can start taking steps to collect and save important evidence. The lawyer will guide you through the whole process, answer your questions and help move your case forward while avoiding costly mistakes.
How Do I Find the Best Lawyer for My Type of Case?
If you have any questions or doubts in your mind, contact an experienced accident attorney for guidance. Find a lawyer who focuses their practice on helping injured people. Find a lawyer with prior insurance company defense experience but who now only represent people and not insurance companies.
Board Certified is Best and Doesn’t Cost Extra
Look for a lawyer who is Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a Civil Trial Lawyer because this is a distinction that must be earned and not purchased. For more information on how to choose a personal injury lawyer, click here to read my how-to guide.
If I Hire an Attorney Will the Insurance Company Withdraw their Offer?
No, it is important to know that insurance companies rarely ever withdraw settlement offers. If an insurance adjuster is trying to pressure you to settle, the offer they make will most likely be available in the future.
If you decide to settle your case on your own make sure all you have all of the information you need before settling. You should know what your injuries are, what your medical costs are, and what your future medical needs and risks are. You should consider how your injuries may affect your ability to work in the future.
Questions to Consider Before Settling Your Case:
Will your injuries cause you to have to take more breaks than you did before? If you weren’t injured, would you be more likely to get raises and promotions? Will you have to retire sooner?
How much income will you earn a year at the end of your work life? If you have to retire 2 years earlier than you planned on due to arthritis in your spine, how much money will you lose?
What is the value to your happiness and quality of life? How will the injuries you received due to the fault of another affect you in 10 or 20 years from now?
Will the Insurance Company Settle with me Now and Pay my Future Medical Bills?
No, the insurance company wants to buy their peace from you. They want to get a FULL Release of all claims from you so they can close their file and go on to the next claim. In a personal injury situation, they are not going to agree to keep your claim open for the rest of your life. Therefore, once you settle your case, it is forever. Don’t make a mistake and settle for too little.
Do You Have More Questions?
I hope this article makes you feel more comfortable with how to deal with insurance adjusters after a car accident. If you would like to speak with a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, call me, Matt Powell. I would be glad to help you with any questions you may have about how to deal with insurance adjusters after an accident. Please call my office at 1-844-MATTLAW.