No matter how friendly they sound on the phone, never consider the insurance adjuster who calls you after you’ve been involved in an injury accident to be your friend.
You are likely in a unique situation as you may never have been involved in a motor vehicle accident. You’re in unfamiliar water, unsure what to do next, not thinking clearly about what happened and what lies ahead.
An insurance adjuster sounds like an expert, offers you what may seem like sound advice, and gives you the opportunity to share your feelings and concerns.
The insurance adjuster has dealt with hundreds, if not thousands, of people like you. They have developed skills that allow them to extract information from accident victims that can be used to lower their company’s liability and loss from an injury accident.
With more than 9,000 injury vehicle accidents in Minnesota alone in a recent year, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, insurance companies have a big incentive to reduce their losses. Their first line of defense remains the insurance adjuster, who can trick an injury accident victim into revealing information that would harm their compensation.
Injury accident victims should take this advice when talking to an insurance adjuster to prevent harming their claim against the insurance company.
Avoid Any Apology
Particularly here in the Upper Midwest, we are quick with an apology, even when we’ve done nothing wrong. An accident victim who had no fault in the crash might feel the need to apologize for creating an inconvenience. Still, an insurance adjuster will misconstrue any apology as an admission of blame or fault for causing the accident.
An injured victim also might want to express concern about others involved in the accident. Use caution in expressing your sympathy, as some phrases might be misinterpreted into an admission of fault or reveal some details about the accident that might not have been clear to you at the time.
For instance, if you say, “How is the other driver? It looked like they were having trouble getting him out of his car.” An adjuster might claim that your concern for the other driver shows your sense of guilt about the accident. Or if you said, “I feel sorry that he’s in such poor condition,” the adjuster would lean into the word “sorry” and try to lay some blame for the crash on you.
An insurance adjuster might even try to solicit such a statement from an accident victim. The adjuster might tell the victim about the other party’s injuries merely to elicit a simple, “Oh, I’m so sorry,” which might be a natural response when you hear of someone’s troubles but becomes a statement the adjuster will manipulate to the company’s advantage.
Anytime you speak with the insurance adjuster, and they will call you repeatedly to gain some nugget they can use, it’s best to keep your comments simple and straightforward.
Stick to the Facts; Don’t Exaggerate, Extrapolate, or Fib
Any injury accident is going to be thoroughly investigated by the police and both sides’ insurance companies. Investigating police officers and insurance adjusters will ask questions about the accident repeatedly.
As an accident victim, you’ll want to provide the best face to your side of the story, but it’s important to stick to the facts as you remember them. If asked about something you are unsure about, don’t speculate or make up an answer. Simple state you do not know or do not recall.
Never lie. If you know you were driving a few miles an hour over the speed limit, don’t say you were within the limit. Police will be able to calculate your speed. Once caught in one lie, an insurance company will call into question your other statements.
When an insurance adjuster asks about the victim’s medical condition, you also should stick to the facts provided by the doctor. When asked how we feel, our natural inclination is to downplay any problems: “I’m fine.”
“I’m fine” is music to an insurance adjuster’s ears. The more you downplay your injuries to the insurance adjuster, the lower they go on their settlement offer.
On the other hand, don’t exaggerate medical conditions that your doctor won’t confirm. Any exaggeration will detract from your actual medical condition and lower your settlement.
Also, don’t provide personal opinions about the damage to your vehicle. Have the vehicle inspected by your own mechanic or dealer rather than relying on the company’s claims department or a mechanic they recommend. These people are less likely to do a thorough inspection and might not find hidden damage.
When you stick with the basic facts, you also won’t become confused and alter your story with each retelling, and you will retell your story multiple times. Insurance adjusters will ask you to state the same information but in different manners to try to build inconsistency into your story.
Decline to Give a Statement (Recorded or Otherwise) to the Insurance Company
Insurance adjusters will pressure an injured accident victim to give a recorded statement as quickly after the accident as possible. They might even show up in your hospital room, recorder in hand, to get you on the record, even if you might be confused or on pain medication that hinders your thought processes.
Minnesota and Wisconsin law do not require injury accident victims to give a statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company. The insurance adjuster will try to convince you that giving a recorded statement is standard procedure, but it’s not!
If you agree to give a statement, the insurance adjuster will ask questions meant to lead you into giving confusing or false statements. They will ask for the same information but in different ways, to cause you to slip up and answer the question differently than you did previously.
This will include repeated attempts to garner the same details in hopes if you change the details slightly, they can accuse you of falsifying information.
The repeated questions also might cause you to think you answered incorrectly before and make you want to modify your story slightly—another checkmark in their book as they seek evidence of you changing your story.
The insurance adjuster also will ask leading questions that might contain information you are unsure about to see if you will agree, just because you might not remember clearly. In such cases, it’s always best to stay with your claim that you are unsure or don’t remember.
Presenting your story through a personal injury lawyer will ensure you get the details straight before providing any information to the insurance company adjuster. A personal injury attorney will coach you on keeping your answers short and simple and not drifting from the most simple facts about the accident.
Never Settle For Their Early Offers
The temptation might be to put the case behind you quickly, thinking you just want to get back to your previous life, but that plays right into the insurance company’s hands. They want to settle the case quickly and for the least amount of money possible.
Vehicle accidents often cause the kind of injuries that don’t manifest themselves for a few days or weeks that might affect your health and your ability to work. Head, neck, and back injuries might not show up for a period of time or might be aggravated when you try to return to your previous activities and need more treatment and more time away from work.
Broken bones take a lot of time to heal, and pain can persist long after the bone is declared fully healed.
Any of these injuries might reduce the amount of time you can work or limit the duties you are able to perform at your job, costing you income. Lost income is a key component of a claim when you’ve been injured in a car crash, so time gives you the opportunity to determine how limited you might be in making an income.
Time also allows for a complete picture of your medical bills. If aggravating injuries require ongoing treatment, a quick settlement will not cover those extended treatments.
The insurance company always lowballs its first settlement offer hoping you will find the offer attractive enough to put the case behind you. The insurance company will save time and money, while you will leave a pile of cash on the table and end up paying more costs for yourself from your injuries and vehicle damage.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
A couple of factors might tempt you to handle the claims process from the injury accident on your own:
- You want the case behind you as quickly as possible.
- You might be intimidated about hiring a personal injury attorney.
The first thought is addressed above, so let’s proceed to the second concern.
A personal injury lawyer with experience has dealt with hundreds of injury accident victims and understands your hesitancy, pain, confusion, and concerns. They will not bully you into accepting a claim or changing your story from the simple facts of the accident.
They have experience dealing with police reports, medical reports, medical bills, employment issues, and the long list of forms an insurance company might try to put before you. They have been through this hundreds of times, while this is hopefully your first and only time through this journey.
They also know the laws in Minnesota and Wisconsin to understand what compensation is due to the victim of an injury accident.
They also know how the insurance companies work, how insurance adjusters will try to manipulate an injured person, and how to challenge the insurance company every step of the way. They have fought the insurance companies for years and will put that experience to work for you.
A personal injury attorney offers a free initial consultation where they hear your story and review your records to determine your case’s validity. You have no risk from this opening conversation with a personal injury lawyer.
A personal injury lawyer will take your case on a contingency basis, which means they agree to take a percentage of your final settlement rather than taking money from you upfront to begin the case.
Their incentive is to garner a final settlement that will be high enough that even with their contingency fee, you will receive enough money to cover your bills and be compensated for any inconveniences caused by the guilty party.
Most of all, an accident attorney becomes your advocate, your protector, and even your friend is going through the difficult process of getting just compensation from an insurance company. They will not intimidate you, but they sure will intimidate the insurance company and their representatives.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer
When you are suffering in the wake of an injury accident, you are not going to be a match for an experienced claims adjuster who tries to cheat you out of just compensation for your injuries. An insurance company cashes in when accident victims settle too quickly and don’t get paid for all of their true costs from an injury crash.
You will better protect your interests and your family’s interests when you hire a local personal injury attorney who can navigate the difficult landscape of insurance claims to get the money you deserve.
Call a local personal injury lawyer before the insurance company, whose insurance adjuster can bully you into accepting a low settlement offer or trick you into making mistakes with your story that will cost you in the long run.
There is no risk in getting a free initial consultation with a local personal injury lawyer. You could very well find a new ally who will take away the burden of dealing with the insurance company and get you just compensation for your pain and suffering.