So you’ve just gotten back from the hospital after your car or motorcycle wreck and now there’s a stranger from some insurance company wanting to know all about what happened in the crash. What do you do?
Here’s the best thing to do: If you don’t have a car accident attorney, think about meeting with one. That stranger you’re facing is a trained professional, the insurance claims handler or adjuster, who’s trained to make you think he’s on your side. But he’s not. And sometimes he’s not nice. And no, they don’t return calls promptly, if at all.
But if you do take the risk and return the call, you should beware of tactics that adjusters typically use—and you should know our tips for handling them.
Five Sneaky Things Adjusters Do…And Our Tips for Winning
Adjuster tactic 1: Demanding a recorded statement
You don’t have to give one. And if you do, anything you say can and will be used against you. The reason they say they want a recorded statement right after the crash may seem innocent—“Your memory is fresh”—but the truth is, you’re still in the shock and pain of the crash and you’ll probably forget something or worst of all, blurt you don’t remember exactly how the crash happened or misstate something the adjuster can use to interpret you were at fault. That could result in a total denial of your entire claim.
Insurance adjusters use these statements to devalue your claim, like when you end up hurt worse than you thought at the time of the statement, or you couldn’t find the words to describe all your injuries. A recorded statement can be used against you at trial.
If you are hurt badly or unsure about the outcome of your medical treatment, don’t do it. People tend to downsize their pain or just not talk about it so they can get off the phone. They also forget to report every aspect of the damage they incurred. Also, for serious injuries, that list tends to grow as time goes on. The truth is, you need a professional to handle your case—a skilled injury lawyer.
Adjuster tactic 2: Asking about prior injuries
The most dangerous question the adjuster might ask is, “Have you ever had injuries similar to this?” If you have, you need to be extremely careful about answering this. A similar injury from a very long time ago can be used by the adjuster to deny you compensation, even if it was totally healed before the accident.
Even if you have a prior injury you were being treated for at the time of the crash, you can be compensated if the crash makes it worse. Be specific with all medical providers how the crash made it worse.
Adjuster tactic 3: Ask for authorization to look at all your private protected health information
Do you really want a stranger going through every single doctor record you’ve ever had? Especially when he’s trying to find you had a similar, totally unrelated problem years ago, so he can say you’re not hurt from the crash and you’re not entitled to any money? Don’t do it.
Adjuster tactic 4: Deny you a rental car
The adjuster may tell you the insurance won’t pay for temporary transportation because you can't prove the wreck wasn't your fault (and you surely haven’t budgeted for a rental car).
Our tip: At the scene of the crash, you will be given a green form called an FR-10 to give to your insurance agent. That form will have a box near the middle where the officer circles who was at fault. That ought to get the adjuster to get you a rental car until he pays to fix your car or pays the fair market value of the one the at-fault driver totaled. Be sure to get a crash report as soon as possible after the crash in case you need to make it clear to the adjuster he owes you a rental car. Your insurance agent or car accident lawyer can also help you with this.
Adjuster tactic 5: Refuse to pay you for the property damage on your car so you can get a new one until you prove the value of it
There are many ways to prove the value of your car that can be done very easily—for example, you can go to Kelley Blue Book on the Internet to find the replacement cost of your vehicle.
Our Top Tip of All, for Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers
Here's what an adjuster will never, ever, tell you: If you are involved in a really bad crash, especially one caused by a drunk driver, you might get paid more than fair market value on your property damage, for punitive damages. But you should expect a big fight on that. If this is the case, especially if you are seriously hurt, you should talk to a lawyer familiar with these cases. At Holland & Usry, we take DUI-related car crashes very seriously and handle them differently than other crash claims. If you’ve been involved in a DUI-related crash, contact us to discover some unique options you have to potentially develop a strong claim for higher compensation for the criminal act that hurt you.
If You're Seriously Hurt in a Car or Motorcycle Accident, An Experienced Lawyer Truly Can Help
There's a lot of reasons to seek an attorney if you're seriously hurt. If you mention an attorney to the adjuster, he'll likely fight to keep you to himself- consider why he does that and use these tips to keep him at bay. If all of this overwhelms you or you don’t want to compile all of this while you try to cope with serious injuries or just figure out how bad you’re hurt, remember we do this for a living—just like the adjuster. For answers to other questions about your case, check out other articles on our site and be sure to download our FREE REPORT on crash cases. And for immediate personal attention to your specific case, call us to set up a free meeting to see how we can help you deal with the adjuster.