When dealing with an insurance adjuster for a personal injury claim, it’s crucial to watch what you say.
The claims adjuster is looking for anything they can use against you in their liability investigation.
Any admission of negligence, even unintended, can seriously harm your case. That’s why hiring a skilled attorney is crucial.
To help you understand how to protect yourself, here’s a look at what you should not say to an insurance adjuster.
Do Not Admit Fault
One of the most damaging things you can do is to admit any degree of fault. Admitting fault is not as simple as avoiding statements such as “I’m at fault.” Saying something as innocuous as “I’m sorry” at the accident scene could haunt you.
Saying you are sorry might seem like a polite and decent thing to say, but try to refrain. Do not tell the police officer you did not see the other driver who caused your injuries.
Kentucky is a pure comparative negligence state, which means you can collect a portion of your damages if you’re partially at fault.
Even if the insurance company can attribute only a small percentage of liability against you, it saves the company money.
Do Not Say You Are Fine
It’s crucial not to downplay your injuries when speaking with the adjuster. It might be a habit to respond with “I’m fine” when someone asks how you are doing.
However, when it comes to a personal injury claim, you want to avoid saying anything that could be construed as though your injuries are minor.
If you are completely disabled from the accident and say you’re OK, the adjuster will use that against you during negotiations.
The severity of your injuries can impact how much money you could be entitled to receive. If you have severe injuries but downplay them when speaking with the adjuster, they will scrutinize your damages.
Damages are your losses, such as medical bills and time off work. Imagine you initially tell the adjuster that you don’t think your injuries will impact your life.
Then, you miss two months of work because your injuries are severe. That is not a good situation.
Avoid Talking About Prior Injuries or Health Conditions
The insurance company also looks to see whether you have pre-existing injuries or health conditions. The adjuster wants to find something they can point to as the cause of your pain other than the accident.
Please do not do the adjuster’s job for them. Avoid talking specifics about prior accidents, injuries, or any ongoing health issues.
You are not obligated to reveal any information about your prior health conditions when initially speaking to the adjuster, especially about something that has nothing to do with the accident.
The adjuster may ask you to sign a medical release for all your private records. Do not agree or sign without an independent attorney reviewing the documentation first.
Adjusters hope you will get them unrestricted access to your entire medical history so they can comb through records that date back long before the accident.
Do Not Agree to Give a Recorded Statement Without Legal Representation
The defendant’s insurance company will undoubtedly ask for a recorded statement. Don’t agree to one — at least not without legal representation.
Anything you say in a recorded statement will be used against you during the claims process. Once you go on record stating certain things, you cannot take any of that back.
Expect the insurance adjuster to take pieces of your statement out of context. All the questions they ask are well-researched and designed to further the adjuster’s agenda. Remember, the adjuster’s priority is to reduce or eliminate the company’s payout entirely.
Even an accurate recorded statement can be used against you. The adjuster might phrase something differently later in the statement to look like you contradicted yourself.
Don’t Assume Facts About the Accident
Avoid talking about aspects of the event or accident you are not 100% sure about. Speculating about the facts of the accident can also end up working against you.
In many cases, making statements about what you assume to be true can be wrong. Comments such as “I think the other driver was distracted by something in their car” are not helpful unless you know it’s accurate.
While you must cooperate to resolve your case, you aren’t obligated to answer questions you don’t remember. It’s ok to say that you don’t recall a specific detail.
Avoid Settling for the Adjuster’s First Offer
You should never say yes to an initial offer, especially if the insurance company wants to settle immediately. Do not tell the adjuster you will accept their first offer without first speaking with an attorney.
Sometimes, insurance adjusters will try to resolve your case early in the claims process. They often do this because they know your case might be worth significantly more. Keeping the case open might give you time to realize how much your case is worth.
For example, the adjuster looks at your medical records and can tell that your doctor will likely recommend surgery, or you will probably have residual pain for the rest of your life.
By settling now, you cannot come back and ask for additional money should your doctor say you need future treatment.
The claims adjuster knows you need money to cover bills now. They hope you take it by offering you something now because some compensation is better than waiting one or two years. Once you sign the release of all claims, it’s resolved.
Contact a Louisville Lawyer
When another party’s negligent actions resulted in your injuries, you could have the right to pursue a claim against them. However, handling the claim alone could result in a lower settlement.
When you retain a personal injury lawyer, you have a legal advocate who will protect your rights. And, the insurance company is prohibited from speaking directly to you when you’re represented.
That’s one reason we recommend you retain a lawyer right away. When you have representation at the start of your claim, there’s a much lower risk of you saying something that jeopardizes your potential settlement.
If you have questions on what you should not say to an insurance adjuster, Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC can answer them. With nearly 20 years of helping injured victims, we know how to protect your rights.
Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Let us review your case and tell you how best to proceed.