After an accident involving a motor vehicle is reported to insurance, you can expect the adjusters to start calling. Whether the adjuster contacting you is representing your insurance carrier or the other party’s, however, you need to be very careful about what you say and how you say it.
An insurance adjuster’s job is not just to determine the extent of damage or injuries that occurred, but to prevent fraud, settle claims for the lowest possible amount, and settle those claims quickly. Part and parcel to all of that will be assessing what your version of events is and how responsible you may or may not be for what occurred.
The aftermath of an accident involving cars, a truck or motorcycle, or pedestrians and bicycles can be unsettling and shocking. No matter how rattled you may be, though, care must be taken in what kind of information is given to adjusters and how it’s presented. Coverage for what happened can be at stake, meaning you may become personally liable for your own or someone else’s injuries if the adjuster gets the wrong message.
Don’t Provide Excessive Information about What Happened
There’s going to be some lag time between an accident and when an adjuster will contact you. Use this time to develop a consolidated version of the accident that cuts out any unnecessary details.
Limiting what you say can feel like you’re not giving the adjuster enough information that can help your case, but it’s important to consider the converse scenario. By providing more and more information about what occurred, you’re giving the adjuster more data points to cross-reference and fact-check. Memories are fickle, so if you are wrong about certain details you said you were sure of, doubt can shadow over the rest of your story.
Don’t Speculate – Only Offer the Facts You Know
When an adjuster asks you a question, don’t attempt to answer it unless you know your answer is a fact. People may feel tempted to offer speculation about what happened (“I guess he wasn’t looking”; “I could have been changing lanes when it happened”) but doing so can hurt your case. Not knowing the answer to a question, no matter how basic it may seem, is OK.
Speculation only adds wild cards into your claim and can damage your credibility if they don’t check out. This is especially the case when you offer answers to questions that you think will support your claim without knowing 100 percent if they’re accurate. Never lie to an adjuster or provide information you don’t know is accurate.
Don’t Talk about Your Injuries Until You See a Doctor
Asking about your injuries can seem like a routine question, but you should avoid answering it until you see a doctor. Your body could still be jacked up on adrenaline for hours or even days after an accident, which can dull pain that won’t be fully apparent until later on. You may even have fractured bones or damage that can only really be assessed after a battery of tests is conducted.
When an adjuster inevitably asks you about your injuries, you can decline to answer and say you intend to disclose relevant information after you consult with a physician. Never give this information over the phone – send a letter drafted by your attorney instead.