Not long after you have suffered an injury in a motor vehicle collision that was caused by another driver, a representative from that person’s insurance company (also known as an insurance adjuster) will contact you. It is important for you to understand how to deal with the insurance adjuster after a car accident. If you make mistakes when interacting with the adjuster, your ability to recover damages may be negatively impacted.
How to Deal with the Insurance Adjuster After a Car Accident
If you don’t understand how to deal with the insurance adjuster after a car accident, you might not be able to recover damages to pay for your losses. Keep the following tips in mind for when you receive the first call from an insurance adjuster.
Recognize that the Adjuster’s Loyalty Lies with the Insurance Company
The adjuster may be friendly and act in a compassionate manner, especially if your injuries are severe. But regardless of their tone or attitude, it is crucial for you to recognize that the insurance adjuster’s loyalty lies with the company with which he or she is employed.
If your injuries are serious, the adjuster might act as if he or she is compassionate in an effort to gain your trust. On the other hand, the adjuster may be abrupt if your injuries are not as serious in an effort to make you believe that your claim is worth less than it is. In both cases, recognize that the adjuster’s job is to minimize the amount that his or her employer may have to pay out on your claim. This means that you should take whatever he or she says with a grain of salt and check with your lawyer before you take any action.
Be Wary of Fast Offers of Settlement
In some cases, adjusters will extend an offer of settlement to you soon after your car crash. You should never agree to accept an offer that is made soon after you have been injured. It is common for insurance companies to extend low offers to people who have suffered serious injuries in an effort to reduce the amount that they might ultimately have to pay. If you accept an offer of settlement, you will not be able to come back later and ask for more money if you determine that your losses were more extensive than you initially realized.
To protect your rights and your claim, run any offer that you receive by an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney can properly value your claim so that you can determine whether the offer is truly reasonable or if you should negotiate for more money.
Do Not Agree to Give a Recorded Statement
Insurance adjusters often ask injured crash victims to give recorded statements. This is not a requirement, however. The reason why insurance companies try to get these statements is that they want to try to secure statements that they can use against you in your claim. Adjusters are trained to ask questions that might trip you up and cause you to make statements that are unhelpful to you.
If you are asked to give a statement, politely decline and tell the adjuster that you want to consult with a personal injury lawyer before you will be willing to give a statement.
Understand That You Have Time
Sometimes adjusters will try to make you believe that you must settle as quickly as possible. Under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.120, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is five years from the date that you were injured (source).
Adjusters and insurance companies also cannot simply close your file because you are not acting as quickly on an offer that they have made as they might like. Insurance regulations prohibit them from doing so. Ignore such threats and talk to a lawyer. An attorney can help you to determine whether an offer is in your best interests or if you should instead negotiate for a higher amount.
Do Not Sign Anything Until You Have Had a Chance to Talk to a Lawyer
Finally, it should go without saying that you should never sign any documents that an adverse insurance company sends to you without talking to an attorney. An insurance adjuster might try to get you to sign a medical authorization, for example. This document is used by companies to dig through your entire medical record to try to find some other incident on which your injuries might be blamed. You should also not sign any settlement offers or other documents that you might be presented without consulting your attorney.
If you aren’t sure how to deal with the insurance adjuster after a car accident, consult an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave for assistance. Our attorneys understand the different types of tactics that might be used by insurance companies and adjusters, and we work hard to help our clients protect their rights and recover the compensation to which they are entitled. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.