How Do I Deal With the Insurance Adjuster After A Virginia Car Accident?
If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you will likely have numerous people contacting you for information. You may be speaking with your doctor’s office, the towing company, the auto body shop, and perhaps one or more insurance companies. How should you handle a telephone call from an insurance adjuster? Use the list below for helpful tips for dealing with the insurance adjuster in a car accident claim.
1. It’s NOT the insurance adjuster’s job to help you
The adjuster was hired to save the insurance company money on the company’s claims. The adjuster is paid to offer as little as possible for your auto accident claim. While the adjusters may seem friendly on the phone, this act is merely a ploy to try to develop a rapport with you. The larger your claim, likely the more friendly and cooperative the adjuster will seem. . . until it’s time to talk money.
Adjusters want to develop a “relationship” with you
Adjusters often try to develop a “relationship” with the accident victim to discourage you from hiring a lawyer. Some will even say things like “we’ll take care of you” or “you don’t need to hire a lawyer, they’ll just take your money.” Think about it this way, why would an insurance company tell you not to hire a lawyer? Since their first priority is to make money selling insurance, they likely will advise you not to hire a lawyer so they can settle their claims on the cheap. This “relationship” between the adjuster and the victim also often causes a delay in hiring an attorney. If such a delay happens, investigation of the accident and documentation of the injuries and pain are frequently hampered.
2. If you speak to the insurance adjuster, be very careful about what you say.
Usually, insurance adjusters will want to take a recorded statement from you about how the accident happened and what your injuries are. Sometimes, an adjuster might tell you that they can’t make any payments on a claim without a recorded statement. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we recommend that our clients not give a recorded statement to any insurance adjuster, unless one of our attorneys is present. However, if you are handling your claim on your own and you decide to give a recorded statement, you should:
- Never volunteer information — answer only the question that is asked by the adjuster. Answer the question honestly but don’t give more information than what has been asked.
- Don’t guess at an answer — If you don’t have all of the information the question calls for, don’t assume or guess what the answer might be. Questions like, “when did you first see the other car” are tricky questions because they prompt you to give an answer when you may not have ever seen the other vehicle.
- If necessary, qualify your answers — You can say things like “I am not completely certain of the answer to this”, “this is my best recollection” or “I may be missing some details, but this is what I remember right now” to cover yourself in case you leave out any details.
3. The insurance adjuster will likely use certain tactics to try to reduce the value of your claim
Many adjusters will use tactics such as saying that you are partly to blame for the accident or that they have problems with some of your medical treatment or bills. They use these statements to try to reduce your expectations of the settlement amount. If the adjuster can settle your case for a reduced amount, they will look good to their supervisors. But accident victims, who are recovering from their injuries and stressing about paying their medical bills often fall for the adjuster’s tricks. The accident victims are usually at a disadvantage because they are not well versed in the claims procedures and processes.
4. Beware of the adjuster’s settlement traps!
A few of the most common settlement traps are quick settlements before a diagnosis is given and pressured settlements. Most insurance companies do not pay medical bills as they are ongoing. But, some will try to get you to make a quick settlement, “so you can pay your medical bills.” Many personal injury victims have fallen for the trap of being pressured into settling their claim before being released by their doctor or before a firm diagnosis is made. This can be disastrous to the injured party who then has to pay the medical bills out of pocket.
Know all your injuries before settling
It is nearly always a bad idea to settle a personal injury case before knowing the full extent of the injuries. Insurance companies almost always require a full release of liability when they settle your case. This generally means that you can’t get any more money after settlement. If your injuries turn out to be more serious than expected and you’ve settled your case, you may be left holding the bag with no real recourse.
Personal injury claims involve more than just talking with an insurance adjuster and settling on a number. The insurance adjuster has been trained to try to give you less than your claim is worth. If you are handling your own case, you also need to be aware of laws that require you to reimburse your health insurance company for what it may have paid out while you were recovering.
Insurance adjusters try to discourage you from hiring a personal injury lawyer for a reason . . . to save them money! However, having an experienced personal injury attorney to help you through the process is sometimes the only way to get full value for your case. Most reputable lawyers offer free initial consultations to discuss your case. Taking advantage of free consultations is a good idea, especially since there is no risk to you.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you can expect to be busy filing insurance claims not only for your injuries, but also for the damage to your vehicle. This means that you will likely be dealing with insurance adjusters at some point. Dealing with an insurance company is not as straightforward as it may seem. There are many traps which can negatively impact the value of your case.
Talk with a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a car accident in Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help. The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm have helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.
Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.
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