If you have been injured in a car accident, we know you may need money to pay your medical bills, fix your car, and simply support yourself and your loved ones.
Insurance adjusters sometimes try to offer a settlement during the first one or two phone calls. Such quick settlements save the insurance company work, and, more important, settling fast gets you to accept a small amount before you know fully what your injuries are and how much your claim is really worth. Don’t do it. Agreeing may seem like a simple way to get compensation without having to go through the claims process, and a quick settlement is often tempting, but it will almost certainly cost you money, sometimes more than you would even realize.
These first conversations after your accident may be difficult, as you may be agitated or in pain, but common sense and these guidelines can assist you from saying anything that will adversely affect your insurance claim.
Identify the Person With Whom You Speak
Before you discuss anything, get the person’s name, address, and telephone number, the name of the insurance company, and the person or business the company represents. Record this information in a file.
Remain Calm and Polite
Although you may well be angry about the accident and your injuries, taking out your anger on the insurance adjuster will not help you win compensation. Insurance adjusters are used to dealing with angry claimants, but they are human and do not respond kindly to abuse.
Give Only Limited Personal Information
You need only tell the insurance adjuster your full name, address, and telephone number. At this point you need not explain or discuss any more than that about your work, your schedule, or your income, nor do you have to give detailed family or other personal information.
Do Not Give Details of the Accident
These instructions apply to contact with another person’s insurance company. When it comes to your own insurance company, you may be obligated by the rules of your policy to give your own insurance adjuster information about the accident. Be sure to read with care anything you’re asked to sign, especially a release form that allows your insurer to gather information.
Insurance adjusters or other representatives may try to get you to “give a statement” about how the accident happened — or they may simply engage you in conversation, during which they will try more subtly to get you to tell them about the accident. Politely refuse any discussion of the facts of the accident except the most basic: where, when, the type of accident, and the vehicles involved if it was a traffic accident.
If an adjuster asks about witnesses and you know of some, respond that there “may be” witnesses and that you will let the insurance company know “at the appropriate time.” Do not commit yourself to identifying witnesses or to providing witness statements.
Don’t Give Details of Your Injuries
An insurance adjuster is going to want to know about your injuries. However, you should not give a detailed description yet, in case you leave something out or discover an injury later, or your injury turns out to be worse than you originally thought.
When you know the true extent of your injuries and treatment, you will include a complete medical description of your injuries in your written demand for compensation. Until then, give only a general description of injuries (“I’ve hurt my knee and back” or “My wrist is broken and I have neck and back pain”), and tell the adjuster you do not yet know how severe your injuries are.
As soon as your conversation is over, write down all the information you received over the phone, as well as whatever information you gave to, or requests you made of, the person with whom you spoke. Get in the habit of note taking for all conversations with anyone from the insurance company.
Don’t Sign Anything From Another Insurance Company
No matter what an adjuster says about any forms, do not sign anything sent to you by another person’s insurance company. Among the first things you might receive in the mail from an insurance company handling an accident claim are various forms an adjuster describes to you as “just routine” or “normal procedure.” However, these forms may give the insurance company direct access to your medical, personal, or work records — or even be a disguised release from any liability for the accident. You are not required to give the insurance company permission to get any records or information about you.
Talk to JSH Before Accepting a Settlement After a Car Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, we know it’s tempting to take any amount of money offered to you, but it’s wise to talk to a lawyer first. The legal team at Jacobson, Schrinsky & Houck is available at (414) 223-4444 to help you take the best course of action in your situation. Call us today for your free consultation.
Personal Injury Attorneys – Jacobson, Schrinsky & Houck – Experience – Compassion – Results