Calculations of Bloomington car accident settlements include the damages suffered by a victim and several other factors. Some variables that...
Should I Give a Statement to the Other Insurance Company?
People involved in motor vehicle accidents in Chicago, Illinois, may wonder, “should I give a statement to the other insurance company?” You have no legal duty to record a statement with the other insurance company. The company or its adjuster may use your statement against you in the claims process or during a bench or jury trial. Insurance companies and their adjusters constantly look for ways to devalue or deny claims. So, they can try to achieve that goal using your statement.
A motor vehicle accident lawyer with a proven history of successfully representing claimants is an essential resource during settlement negotiations or at trial. The best time to hire a lawyer is immediately after sustaining injury or property loss/damage in a motor vehicle accident. The lawyer will communicate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf and give any information and documents the company might require for claim investigation and processing.
Why Would an Insurance Adjuster Want a Statement?
Insurance adjusters ask for a recorded statement primarily to lower your claim’s value or deny it altogether. The adjuster will ask questions that will protect the insurer during the claim process or in court. He or she will tailor the questions to obtain desired answers from you.
The adjuster will ensure your questions and responses are as brief as possible. As such, you will not have room to give a clear statement and explain yourself. What’s more, you may not have an opportunity to give a full account of what happened immediately before, during, and after the crash. Your claim may get denied or lowballed due to a poor statement.
The adjuster might try to call you soon after the crash. The objective here is to talk to you when you are in a state of panic, confusion, or under pain medication. In such a state, you may respond to questions you are not ready to answer and say something that implies you are to blame for the accident. You may, for instance, apologize for the accident when you are not at fault.
The adjuster may also take long pauses between questions. The goal here is to trick you into talking to avoid an uncomfortable silence. The adjuster may, for instance, ask you how are you feeling today at the start of the conversation. If you casually respond with “I’m okay,” or “I’m fine,” the insurer may use that to discredit the severity of your injuries.
What Are the Risks of Giving a Statement to the Other Insurance Company?
The Insurance Companies or Adjusters Do Not Have Your Best Interests
The adjuster may sound courteous and concerned when talking to you. He or she may even promise to fast-track the claims process if you provide a statement. You should, however, keep in mind that the adjuster’s interests are tied to the insurance company, not you.
The adjuster’s goal is to help the company save money by reducing a settlement or denying a claim. He or she can achieve that goal by getting you to say something that may compromise your insurance claim and lower the company’s liability.
Insurance Adjusters Are Constantly Searching for Inconsistencies
If you grant a recorded statement, the adjuster will evaluate it against what you said to the responding police officers and medical providers. He or she may also compare it with statements recorded by eyewitnesses. The adjuster will use even a slight inconsistency to try to convince a judge or jury that you lied to exaggerate the severity of your injuries and potential payout.
Adjusters May Ask Misleading Questions
An adjuster may ask trick questions hoping you will provide an answer that can build his or her case or weaken your claim. Even an honest response can be used against you in the claim process or in court.
Adjusters May Try to Find an Alternative Explanation for Your Injuries
Car accident injuries sometimes become obvious days or weeks after the accident, but the other party’s adjuster may contact you shortly after the crash to persuade you to record a statement. The adjuster knows that your injuries may take a while before becoming fully apparent and takes advantage of your lack of knowledge regarding your injuries.
Your Recording Is Admissible in Court
Anything you say to an insurance adjuster can get used against you in court. So, even a minor discrepancy can form the basis for invalidating your account of the accident.
What to Say to an Insurance Adjuster
It is advisable to decline to record a statement and politely request that the insurance adjuster contact your lawyer. In certain instances, however, giving some basic information to the adjuster may make sense. An example is notifying the other party’s insurance company of the accident. The following tips can help you communicate with an adjuster without divulging any information that might weaken your claim:
Be Respectful, but Firm With the Adjuster
The adjuster will use all available tricks to find a way to harm your case or lower the company’s liability. He or she may even pretend to be your friend. Do not be rude to the adjuster, even if you know this fact. Instead, be courteous and respectful, but steadfast, with the adjuster.
Do Not Share Sensitive Details
Avoid sharing sensitive details about your life with the adjuster. Such details include your salary or income, family situation, and pre-existing medical conditions. Share only basic personal information like your name, physical address, and contact details.
Inform the Adjuster That Your Injuries Are Not Open to Discussion
Injuries are an important part of any auto accident claim, but you should not discuss them with the insurance company. The company should request information regarding your injuries from you or your lawyer in writing. The insurer can only obtain your medical documentation after getting your approval.
Do not guess anything about your case. Communicate only what you are sure is true. Just say you do not know when you are unsure about something. Doing that will help you avoid contradicting yourself during settlement negotiations or at trial.
Do Not Sign Any Document or Accept Any Settlement Offer Over the Phone
The insurer may try to persuade you to agree to a settlement offer shortly after the crash. The insurer’s objective in this situation is to settle your claim fast and cheaply. The amount may appear enticing at first glance, but it is most likely lower than your actual claim value. Only consider an offer after you have understood the full extent of your injuries and reviewed the offer with your attorney.
Politely Decline to Provide a Recorded Statement
You have no legal obligation to issue a recorded statement to the other party’s insurer. As such, inform the adjuster that you are not ready to record a statement at the moment.
Do I Have to Talk to the Other Driver's Insurance Company?
There is no legal requirement to talk to the other driver’s insurance company. However, there are certain instances when talking to the other driver’s insurer is a good idea. A perfect example is where liability is clear, but the other driver has failed or declined to talk to his or her insurance company. The insurer may not know what happened during the crash, your injury type and severity, or the extent of property damage or loss. In this case, you may need to talk to the other driver’s insurer to start a claim.
Your insurance company representative may fail to contact the other driver’s company, especially if your injuries are minor. In this scenario, it is up to you to report the accident and pursue compensation from the other driver’s insurer.
Your communication with the other insurance company should be as brief as possible. That way, you will limit your chances of disclosing any information that can hurt your case.
When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Insurance companies and their adjusters begin the claims process right after a crash. They might attempt to shift fault to the other party in accidents where the fault lies on their client. Getting an aggressive lawyer involved immediately after a crash can help in navigating the insurance claims process for car accidents. The following are situations when you should hire a car accident lawyer:
You Have Sustained Serious Injury or Substantial Property Damage or Loss
Hire a lawyer immediately after suffering serious injuries in a car accident. Do the same if your car or any other valuable property has sustained significant damage. Expensive watches, cameras, and clothes are valuable property that often get damaged in motor vehicle accidents.
Someone Else Caused the Accident
Have a lawyer on your side in any motor vehicle crash in which another person is to blame. The other driver may be liable in an accident if the driver breached the duty of care by driving dangerously or failing to comply with traffic laws.
A Government Agency Is Liable for Your Accident
The procedures and deadlines for recovering compensation from a local or state government agency for the negligent act of its workers are different from those of individuals or private organizations. So, you need a lawyer with a demonstrated history of winning civil claims against government agencies in your corner to recover damages from a liable government entity. Be sure to hire a lawyer as soon as possible to avoid missing compensation due to missed deadlines.
You Have Received a Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company
Consult a lawyer before accepting a settlement or recording a statement with the insurance company. Remember that it is hard to tell the severity of your injuries or damage to the property immediately after a crash. Only a lawyer can determine a compensation amount that will cover the full scope of your injuries, losses, and out-of-pocket expenses.
Moving forward without a lawyer’s input exposes you to a higher risk of accepting significantly low payout. Taking a payout closes the case permanently. In other words, you cannot file another claim or go to court for the same accident after accepting a settlement.
You Have Lost a Loved One in an Accident Caused by Someone Else
You might have grounds for a wrongful death claim if an accident caused by the other driver’s negligence has killed a loved one. A lawyer is necessary to determine if you qualify to initiate a wrongful death claim, guide you on how to do it, and answer any questions you might have throughout the process.
What Can a Car Accident Lawyer Do for You?
Guide You on the Steps to Take After an Accident
Your lawyer can tell you what to do after an accident to protect your health and right to pursue damages. The correct after-accident steps include checking yourself and other involved parties for injuries, calling the police, documenting the crash scene, your injuries, and property damage, and seeing a doctor.
Determining All Potentially Liable Parties or Entities
Lawyers know how to investigate car accidents and obtain the evidence to identify all at-fault parties. They also know how to negotiate with insurance companies and counter tricks they use to weaken claims or lower their liability.
Determining How Much Your Claim Is Worth
Determining damages in a car accident involves putting a dollar value to both tangible and intangible losses you have incurred and will incur in the future. A lawyer who has successfully handled car accident cases knows how to value all damages without leaving a dollar on the table.
Developing and Implementing a Strategy for Maximizing Your Recoverable Damages
Various laws, statutes, and regulations dictate when, how, and from whom you can pursue compensation after a crash. Some even dictate the compensation amount a liable party must pay. Your lawyer can help you navigate these laws, statutes, and regulations and devise a strategy for maximizing your potential compensation.