Shortly after a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident, you should be contacted by an adjuster from your insurance company, from the other driver’s insurance company, or both. The way that you respond to the adjusters’ questions is crucial to preserving your rights and trying to get the most possible for your claim. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when negotiating your claim with insurance companies.
1) The Adjuster for the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend – Be Careful With Every Statement Made
The adjuster for the other insurance company will likely be very polite and friendly when speaking with you. It is a tactic to make you feel comfortable so that they can freely obtain information from you. Think about it, if the adjuster is rude, their motives would be revealed from the start, and you would not feel comfortable freely sharing information, but do not be fooled. A primary reason for taking your statement after the crash is to get information to use against you. Even simple statements that do not appear to indicate any wrongdoing on your part can be used against you.
For example, a client came to us after the claim was denied for an auto accident where he was attempting to make a left turn and was sideswiped by a speeding vehicle that was attempting to pass him from behind on a two-lane road. The insurance adjuster had asked the client if he “looked in his rear view mirror when attempting to make the left turn prior to the crash” and he responded that he had not, that he was looking ahead of him and in the direction that he was trying to turn. On that basis alone, the insurance company denied his claim because he said he had not looked in his rear view mirror when attempting the left turn. This appeared to be an innocent statement that caused the claim to be denied. How many of us look in our rear view mirror when making a left turn?
Most of our clients come to us immediately after the crash. But we also have several clients that have hired us after they have begun their claim or after they get a low settlement offer. The earlier that we are involved the more help that we can provide to try to maximize the settlement offer. We have found that one of the most damaging things to a client’s case are the statements they already made to the insurance company prior to being represented that sometimes cannot be undone. For example, prior to our representation, an insurance adjuster called and asked our client where he was going before the collision occurred. He stated that he was on his way to a sports game. This was irrelevant but was later used against the client to devalue the claim.
2) Remember that Adjusters Frequently Give Incorrect or Misleading Information
On many occasions, the adjuster for the other insurance company will tell you that they cannot process your claim or move forward without you giving them a recorded statement. This is not true. Often, what is said in the recorded statements can cause the claim to be denied. If you are concerned about the recorded statement, how to respond appropriately, and how it will later be used, you should get the help of a professional injury attorney immediately. Also, insurance adjusters frequently tell injured claimants that unless they sign their Medical Authorization for Release Form that they cannot process the claim. This also is not true.
Adjusters frequently give incorrect or misleading information. For example, we were hired after our client received a low settlement offer from the insurance company. The insurance company claimed that the client filled out an injury form and did not list his shoulder as being injured, therefore they were not willing to cover the chiropractic bill, which was several thousand dollars that the client would have to pay out-of-pocket. We did not take the adjuster’s assertions at face value and conducted our own investigation. We obtained a copy of the insurance injury form submitted and it clearly stated that my client sustained a shoulder injury. The adjuster had either made a serious error or blatantly lied to devalue the claim, and we let them know we would push the matter as far as it needed to go in order to receive fair compensation. Shortly after, we were able to get get all the medical bills covered and get the offer up substantially to reach a favorable settlement, which was more than double what they were willing to pay my client without our representation.
3) If the Other Adjuster’s Insurance Company Has Not Contacted You, Follow Up With Them
Many times, clients who have been representing themselves will come to us after they have either been ignored by the other insurance company or have not been contacted at all. If you have not been contacted, it is important to follow up with the other driver’s insurance company. That is one of the first steps that we take in the representation. Those who have been waiting a long time to be contacted, are usually surprised to find out that the other insurance company had no knowledge of the claim and were not processing it because the other driver never reported it to their insurance company. It is common for driver’s who know they were at fault to avoid reporting the claim to their insurance company.
4) Avoid Saying You Are “Okay”
It is common for us all when asked how we are doing to say, “I am okay,” but we have seen this simple phrase used against clients who spoke with the other driver’s insurance adjuster. For example, prior to our representation, one of our clients, when asked how they were doing that days simply said “I am okay, how about you.” That phrase alone opened the gateway for the adjuster to argue that the client was never injured despite months of medical treatment. Luckily, we were able to shut this argument down and obtain a favorable settlement for our client through skilled negotiation.
NC Personal Injury FirmIf you have questions about a motor vehicle accident, feel free to contact our personal injury law firm at (919) 348-7727.