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Car Accident

Dealing with an Insurance Adjuster after an Accident

When you have been in an accident caused by someone else, the last thing you want to deal with is the insurance adjuster for the at-fault party.

You will likely have emotional trauma after an accident, especially if you are recovering from physical injuries or you’re worried about how you will afford your medical bills and other expenses while you cannot work.

You may feel you don’t want to speak to an insurance adjuster at all, and that’s a decision you can make. But it could go against you if you don’t give your side of the story, as the insurance company responsible for determining how much they should offer you will have limited information.

Understandably, you might be worried about saying the wrong thing or that the insurance adjuster will try to trip you up and find a way to blame you for the accident. This is where hiring a personal injury lawyer can come in handy. They can handle all communication and negotiations, so you won’t have to speak to the insurance adjuster. Then, you can focus on your recovery without the added stress.

What Does an Insurance Adjuster Want to Know?

If you do take a call from an insurance adjuster, it’s good to be prepared for what they might ask you. Ultimately, it’s their job to determine whether their client was responsible for the accident and how much compensation they should offer you in a settlement. But of course, they are acting in their own best interests — not yours — and will want to pay out as little as possible, so you do need to be careful with the information you give, as you don’t want them to twist your words.

The insurance adjuster will press you for details about the accident, but you only need to give them the facts. For instance:

  • When the accident happened
  • Where the accident happened
  • The type of accident (car, truck, slip/fall at work, etc.)
  • The parties involved.

If they ask for specific details about what happened, politely decline to answer that question at this time. It is important to be calm and polite, as being rude or aggressive can go against you.

The best thing to say is the accident is still being investigated, and you or your personal injury lawyer will contact them later.

Top tip: Do NOT apologize for the accident, even if you only mean that you are sorry the accident happened in general or that you didn’t see what happened; this could be taken as an admission of fault or that you weren’t paying attention.

Why Shouldn’t I Tell Them All the Details?

An insurance adjuster will be looking to pay out as little as possible in compensation, so anything you say — no matter how harmless it may seem — could be held against you.

Let’s say you were in a car accident and were in no way responsible. However, if you mention you had your music blasting, your phone was ringing, or you were talking to your passenger, these could all give the insurance adjuster the opportunity to suggest you were not focused on the road.

The insurance adjuster could also take your injuries at face value. You might walk away from an accident with only minor cuts and bruises, but other injuries may not show symptoms until weeks or months after the accident occurred. These other injuries could get progressively worse; for instance, minor back pain at the time you speak to the insurance adjuster may actually be spinal cord damage, and you’ll need treatment for it down the line.

Should I Accept a Settlement If They Offer It?

It’s pretty common to receive a settlement proposal from an insurance adjuster the first time you speak to them. But don’t be too hasty to agree to the offer on the table.

They may try to persuade you that this offer is your best option by telling you your claim will take months or years to be resolved or that it will cost you more in legal fees in the long run. The truth is, the first offer they give you is likely less than what you’re entitled to. At this early stage, neither you nor the insurance company knows the extent of your injuries or the long-term impact the accident will have on you and your income.

Once you have accepted a settlement payout, the liable party is released from responsibility. So if your injuries worsen and your circumstances change because of injuries sustained in the accident, you can’t re-open your claim for any costs incurred, such as medical bills and loss of earnings.

Is It Better to Appoint a Personal Injury Lawyer?

The short answer is yes. If you’re not confident in speaking to an insurance adjuster or know what sort of settlement you should be entitled to, it is better to have an attorney acting on your behalf.

An attorney can determine liability, gather evidence, negotiate your settlement, and speak to expert witnesses to testify on the extent of your injuries and how they might impact you in the future, and how much time you will need to take off work (if you can return to work at all). They will have a much better idea of what settlement is fair in your case.

The other advantage is while your lawyer wants you to win your case, they aren’t emotionally involved in the same way you are. They will deal with the facts and evidence and present your case pragmatically, whereas you may be distressed or angry about what happened and may be unable to state your case as concisely. Hiring a personal injury lawyer takes a lot of stress away from you, allowing you to focus on your recovery and move on with your life.

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