You’re recovering from your car accident and you get a call from the other driver’s insurance company. What should you do? Hopefully, before this happens, you have hired a car accident lawyer and can tell the insurance agent to contact them instead.
Your car accident lawyer is a shield against the tactics of insurance company adjusters who will try to get you to incriminate yourself. The reason they do these is to lower your compensation as much as they legally can. Your best defense is to let your lawyer do all the talking with them.
Tactics of the Insurance Companies
When you get a call from the other driver’s insurance, they’re seeking information to be used against you. They may say nice things to you to get you to trust them. You might also get a lowball offer and claim that’s the best you’re going to get from them.
Even though an insurance company has many lawyers, having just one on your side levels the playing field. We speak their language and know the laws, and we know how to use the legal system to bring them to court if they won’t be reasonable.
In high-value cases, they may try to delay processing your claim to financially pressure you to take a lower settlement amount. Expenses can pile up faster than you think after a car accident. Your lawyer will have strategies to deal with this tactic. You can also learn what to do if the other driver is uninsured.
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What to Do if You Are Called Before You Have a Lawyer
If you already have a lawyer and you’re called, be polite and give them your lawyer’s name and number. Insurance companies are legally obligated to talk with them about your case after your hire. If you don’t have one yet, here’s how to protect yourself.
- Be polite with the caller. They’re not just out to give you a low offer. They’re also protecting themselves against insurance fraud by calling you. Insurance adjusters are just trying to do their job, and being angry at them will not help your case.
- Identify who is calling you. Ask for their name, the company they work for, who they represent, and their contact information. You can pass this to your lawyer after you hire one.
- Only give them your name, address, and phone number. Do not share other personal information.
- Never talk about your injuries. Your injuries could change or worsen, so any information you give could become wrong later. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with an injury, do not reveal it over the phone.
- Do not intimate that you’re fine. A common trick is to get asked “How are you feeling today?” The polite response is to say “I’m fine” when you’re not. They’ll take you at your word.
- Only give objective details about the accident. Do not speculate with the insurance agent beyond that. Do not assume blame, whether yours or the other driver.
- Never give a recorded statement. Be firm about this. Tell them you will give them written correspondence about what happened. Your lawyer will help you with this.
Let Your Lawyer Handle Negotiations
When you hire a car accident lawyer, they’ll examine the details of your case to come up with a fair amount for your settlement. The insurance company will accept it, deny it, or make a counteroffer. If you don’t have a lawyer, you should deny any settlement offer until you’ve spoken with one.
There are details of tort law that you probably don’t know about, and language around asking for more compensation that will put insurers in a more generous position. They know that if they don’t deal fairly, they could have to face a judge and jury to explain their reasoning.
Also, your lawyer will know how to get evidence to prove you were not the at-fault driver and about the severity of your injuries. They could use the details of your accident report, medical records, photos, witness testimony, and more to get the insurance company to play fair.
What About My Own Insurance Company?
You’re required to report an accident to your own insurance company, but a lawyer can help you here as well even in at-fault states. First, you may have benefits on your policy that can only be accessed if you tell them about the accident. Also, if you wait too long to report, they could deny you coverage.
While talking with your own insurer is less adversarial, you should still be careful about what you say. It could get back to the other insurer. Stick to the conversation tips we mentioned and ask your car accident lawyer for further advice.
Even if you’ve seen your own doctor, your insurance company may ask you a doctor of their choosing as well. This is fine if you’ve seen your own doctor already, but speak with a lawyer before you go for further advice on what to say and avoid when you see them.