After a car accident, often all you want is for the whole ordeal to be over. Some people are willing to do whatever it takes to take care of it, even if it means rushing through all the important details so they can simply move on with their lives. That is not always the smartest way to go about it, especially in regards to working through your insurance claim. Whether you are speaking with the other driver’s insurance company or even your own, here are four tips for navigating the fine line of what to say and what not to say after a car accident.
What Should I Do or Say After a Car Accident?
- Just say no…for now.
If you have been in an accident, we strongly recommend that you consult with an attorney before providing a recorded statement to any insurance adjuster, including the adjuster for your own insurance company. This recommendation applies especially if you are injured or feeling sore after a car accident.
Even though you may be obligated to give a recorded statement to your own insurance company, if you are injured you should consult with an attorney before doing so. Again, remember that you are not required to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company at all.
Insurance adjusters are trained to save their company money by asking strategic, scripted questions that can get you to open up about certain aspects of the accident or your injuries. They are basically skilled negotiators and can potentially catch you saying what was not intended, but what they want to hear, simply because you did not understand the question or did not know what was specifically being asked. If you do give a statement to the insurance adjuster, recorded or not, it is strongly recommended that you stay calm and be sure you fully understand the question being asked before responding. Politely but firmly decline the insurance adjuster’s request to record your account of what happened. Tell him or her that you are not comfortable with recording the exchange and that, when your information is complete, you will provide your official statement in writing. Do not forget to always be honest when answering questions after consulting your attorney.
- You have the right to remain silent.
When speaking to the insurance adjuster you are only required to provide a limited amount of personal information. It is fine to share your name, address, and phone number, etc. It is also safe to describe what you do for a living and sharing the name of your employer, how long you have worked there and other similar details. You should not, however, share much more additional information. Instead, consult with an attorney before doing so.
Insurance adjusters may formally ask you to describe what happened, or they may keep it more casual and conversational, but this is a tactic to get you to open up and share as much as possible.
- Don’t rush.
Remember how you just want this whole experience to be over as quickly as possible? Well, don’t rush to settle the claim with the insurance adjuster too quickly. It is an essential part of their job to offer you a settlement during your first couple phone conversations. When they can get the claim resolved and settled right away it usually saves the insurance company money.
Most importantly though, you risk settling before knowing the full extent of your injuries. How often have you heard of someone getting in an accident and feeling fine only to begin showing symptoms within hours or days? It is common for injuries from bad collisions to take time to manifest fully. Meaning? You may settle for too little if you settle too early and will not be covered for the extent of your condition. It is tempting to settle early, but you may end up paying more out of pocket in the end.
You may also be pressured rather hard to give a recorded statement right away, claiming that whoever makes the statement first is better protected. This is not true. Be aware that when pressured like this, you may not give the most accurate or calm account of what really took place. Instead of a detailed and true statement, you may unintentionally leave out a key detail or certain important aspects of your claim. The concept of being recorded often causes all of us to act and speak differently. This is a big reason why a written statement is a better way to go.
- Know what is expected of you.
Adjusters may tell that you are required to give a recorded statement. Before just accepting their word for it and doing so, you do have the right to ask your adjuster to provide you with a copy of your policy or the other driver’s policy and show you specifically where within the insurance policy that you signed that it requires you to provide a recorded statement.
Although we do not recommend that you give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster before consulting with an attorney, if you choose to do so, it is very important that you provide an accurate history to the insurance adjuster. Insurance companies are always looking for reasons to deny claims or minimize the value of claims.
At the end of the day, you should not give a recorded statement to an insurance representative without the guidance and counsel of an attorney. If you do deny the representative’s request, be courteous but firm. No matter how friendly and caring they may seem on the phone, never forget that they are employees and representatives of the insurance company’s interests–not yours.
If you have any more questions about what to do after a car accident or any other personal injury issue, please call us at 407-841-7699. Also, keep checking our blog, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more helpful hints and to always be informed about your rights.