More than 105,000 people were injured in car accidents in North Carolina last year. Those whose injuries were caused by the negligence of another driver received a call from an adjuster from that driver’s insurance company. The injury victims who spoke to them probably believed they had to answer the adjuster’s questions. What they might have done is harm their third-party claim.
At Life Law, we give our personal injury clients the benefit of our knowledge and experience as we guide them through their claims. Knowing what to do, what not to do, and why is power. If you live in Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington, or anywhere in North Carolina, let us help.
What Is the Insurance Adjuster’s Role?
The basic role of an insurance adjuster is to investigate car accident claims and determine their value. They will assess property damage and review crash reports, medical records, and other documentation and calculate the value of a claim. Because insurance companies profit by not paying claims, the adjuster will be looking for information from a variety of sources which they can use to keep the value of the claim as low as possible or to deny it altogether.
Requesting a recorded statement from the victim in a personal injury claim is one of the first actions an adjuster takes. It is not uncommon for the adjuster to contact a victim on the same day as the crash. Asking questions while you are vulnerable, off guard, and before you have consulted a personal injury attorney is a sound strategy for the insurance company.
Should I Refuse a Request for a Statement?
You should, indeed, refuse an insurance adjuster’s request for a statement, recorded or otherwise, until you have consulted an attorney. As is true with being arrested for a crime, anything you say may be held against you later. This is especially accurate in cases where perhaps you do not believe you are injured at the time of the initial interview but find out later that you are.
A common tactic used by adjusters is to ask contradictory questions to which you will likely provide inconsistent responses. You answer a question one way but a differently worded but similar question another way.
In addition, responses you think are innocent may be used against you. For example, if you tell the adjuster that you had just taken a sip of your coffee when you were hit, the adjuster will attempt to assign blame to you.
Insurance adjusters will use what you say, how you respond, and inconsistencies to justify offering you reduced compensation for your claim.
If I Agree to a Statement, What Should I Say?
If you believe you should provide the adjuster with a statement without an attorney present, there are some general guidelines for responding:
Insist that the interview is not recorded. The adjuster must ask your permission, so refuse. That way, their documentation consists only of notes and not of the actual interview.
Never admit to any type of guilt.
If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. Do not attempt to respond unless you are completely sure of the answer.
Keep your responses brief and answer only a limited number of questions. Do not volunteer information about anything the adjuster does not ask for specifically.
If asked a question contradictory or slightly reworded from a question you have already been asked, decline. Advise the adjuster that the question has already been asked and answered.
Do not sign anything requested by the adjuster until you have had your personal injury attorney review it.
What Kind of Information Will an Adjuster Ask For?
The adjuster will ask for basic information, such as your full name, date of birth, address, and phone number. They likely will already have this information, so you will be verifying it for them.
They will ask you questions about where you were going at the time of the crash and where you had been. They will ask for your version of what happened, whether you took photos at the scene, and what the negligent driver, law enforcement, or any witnesses said to you.
The adjuster will ask you about your injuries, medical treatment and diagnosis, and the recommended treatment plan. They will also ask you about the cost of medical expenses to date. In addition, they will ask you about your health status and prescribed medications prior to the crash.
How Life Law Can Help
A car wreck will leave you shaken, which is why an insurance company will have their adjuster call you as soon as possible to get a statement. The fact is that providing this information to the adjuster is usually good practice; however, it should be done when you are ready and with your personal injury attorney present.
At Life Law, we have made insurance adjuster interviews safer and easier for hundreds of clients in Raleigh, North Carolina, and throughout the state. We provide the guidance and support you need to act in good faith while not compromising the value of your bodily injury claim.
There is no need to talk to an insurance company adjuster on your own. Schedule a free consultation with us right away. Call Life Law now.