Any interactions or conversations with insurance adjusters after you’ve been in a car accident can have a tremendous impact on your legal rights and any claims you might have to damages or compensation. One of the most important things you should remember is: never give the opposing insurance adjuster permission to record your statement. You are not legally required to do so, and it is in your best interest to refuse this request. Let me explain why.
PROVING THE ISSUE OF LIABILITY IN CAR ACCIDENTS
One of the most critical things at stake in conversations with insurance adjusters is the idea of liability. Whose fault was the accident? Yours? Theirs? A little of both? Even if you feel completely confident that the accident was 100% the other party’s fault, some of the things you might say — or be led to say — could seriously hurt your case.
The truth is that both your insurance adjuster and the opposing insurance adjuster will be trying to document evidence that can be used later to build a case for who is liable. You will likely have fewer options about the conversation with your own insurance adjuster. I will address that later in this article, but for now, let’s look at how the opposing adjuster might approach the situation.
BE PREPARED FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT DETAILS
One of the classic tactics an opposing insurance adjuster may try in a conversation with you about the accident is getting you to say or unwittingly admit details that can be used against you later.
For example, imagine you were injured when another driver turned into your path as you traveled straight through an intersection. The opposing adjuster will likely ask you how fast you were driving. If you respond with something like, “I was going the speed limit,” they might then ask you what the speed limit is on that road, at that intersection. If you say “I think it’s 45 mph,” and the speed limit is actually 35 or 40 mph, the opposing adjuster and legal team now have a recording of you admitting that you were speeding at the time of the accident!
Your claim is now in big trouble. Do you see how easy it can be to say something that seems inconsequential when in fact it’s very important? The opposing adjuster is never trying to help you. They are working hard to find any way they can to implicate you for some or all of the liability in the accident.
Here is another scenario that also looks and sounds like no big deal on the surface.
Imagine that you’re in a wreck after the other driver emerged from a commercial driveway on your right. You struck the other vehicle broadside as it crossed your lane. It’s now a couple of days later and you’re still suffering from headaches and feeling dizzy. You’re worried about what’s going to happen with your legal case, and you’re not thinking as clearly as you normally would.
When the adjuster asks you how fast you were going, you say that you “do not remember.” When they follow up and ask how far from the other vehicle you were you when it emerged from the driveway, you again say that you “do not remember.” Even if your mind should clear within a few days and you then recall that you were traveling slowly and that you were only a few car lengths from the driveway when the car pulled out, you have given a statement that may crush your claim. Here’s why.
If the other driver says that you were approximately 100 yards away when he pulled out and that he then noticed you coming at a high rate of speed, you are not in a position to rebut this evidence because you said you “do not remember.” Even without a witness, the insurance adjuster now has evidence that you contributed to this accident and may, in fact, be at least 50% at fault.
EVIDENCE OF INJURIES AFTER AN AUTO ACCIDENT
The injuries you or the other party may have sustained will almost certainly be a primary concern in legal proceedings after the wreck. Who pays for medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering is generally connected to who was liable in the accident. So, this is another area where it’s easy to make an unwitting mistake when you consent to allow the opposing adjuster to record your comments and statements.
With car accident victims, it is often the case that pain and injuries don’t surface immediately at the accident scene. It could be as much as several days later — or longer — before you begin to feel the effects. The opposing insurance adjuster will be listening for you to say things like “I’m okay,” or that you “just feel a little shaken up.” It’s not unreasonable that you might have to wait several weeks after a collision to have your first medical visit. At that point, the other party’s insurance company will use your statements as evidence that your torn rotator cuff (shoulder muscle) was a pre-existing condition, not a result of the accident.
HOW TO RESPOND TO INSURANCE ADJUSTER REQUESTS AFTER YOUR CAR ACCIDENT
Hopefully, by now you see the many ways that consenting to the opposing adjuster’s request to record your statement is a huge risk for you in any future legal proceedings. When they ask for your permission, you should clearly and definitively refuse to give them permission to take or record a statement or any comments from you.
You will likely need to give a brief statement to the police after an accident. But don’t even agree to a conversation about the accident with the opposing adjuster, even if it’s “off the record” and not recorded. If you have been able to review the written police report and it is accurate, simply notify the adjuster that you’ve given a statement to the police and that it is an accurate record they can rely on.
As I mentioned earlier, you probably don’t have much of a choice about giving a recorded statement or interview to your own insurance company. It is important to note that you must comply and be truthful with both the police and your own insurance company representative. Generally speaking, however, it’s best not to volunteer information or extra facts and details in those reports. Answer questions clearly and concisely and be cooperative.
HELP AND FURTHER RESOURCES YOU CAN TRUST
If you have questions about navigating these conversations, I can help you. My team at the Law Office of David E. Gordon is ready to hear about your car accident and the details, even if you have already given statements to one or both insurance adjusters. I have been fighting for the rights and compensation of car accident victims in Memphis, TN, and northern Mississippi since 2001.
Other legal teams and insurance companies don’t want a legal battle with an attorney that has my depth of experience and professional recognitions. Fewer than 2% of attorneys in our state are Board Certified, but I hold that distinction along with a proven track record of standing up for my clients where it counts. Contact our team 24/7 for a free, no-obligation consultation: (901) 667-8305.
If you have been in a car accident, there are many other things to consider in addition to conversations with insurance adjusters. Learn the basics of everything you’ll need to know in the critical time after an auto accident in just a few minutes with our helpful guide and additional resources.