After a car accident in Indiana, the insurance company will usually send out an adjuster to investigate the claim, speak with the insured, and try to reach a settlement for damages. When that settlement is offered, accident victims may feel they are being offered a fair amount, or that the insurance adjuster is going out of the way to help them.
However, it is important to remember that the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company. Their job is to try to get the lowest settlement possible—or, even better, avoid paying a settlement altogether. There is one reason why an insurance adjuster wants to speak with a car crash victim and record their statement—to use it against them. The best way to avoid settlement reductions or denials is to work with an Indiana personal injury lawyer who has experience handling car accident insurance claims.
Many people think that hiring an attorney should only be done if there is a disagreement between the insured and the insurance company, but this is a misconception. Insurance adjusters can be tenacious and use high-pressure tactics to get the insured individual to say something they may not mean or that can be taken out of context. Experienced attorneys are familiar with these strategies and could work hard to ensure their client does not fall victim to them.
Still, for those accident victims who choose to go it alone, there are several things they should do—and should avoid doing—when speaking with an insurance adjuster to avoid unfair reductions to a settlement or denial of a claim altogether.
#1. Stay Calm
Being angry about the situation is understandable after an accident, but taking that anger out on the insurance adjuster is not. It is important to remember that insurance adjusters really are just doing their job and often work as the middleman between the accident victim and the insurance company. They may not have much control over what is offered in the settlement. Becoming angry will only worsen an already unpleasant situation.
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#2. Record Conversations
Insurance adjusters will have their own documentation of conversations and accident victims should as well. If the accident victim is speaking to the insurance adjuster, it is important to write down their name, the date and time of the conversation, and what was discussed. These are easy details to forget, especially in the stress after an accident, and those notes could prove to be invaluable later on.
#3. Do Not Volunteer Information
There is some information the insurance adjuster may ask for, such as medical records or employment information, that a car accident victim is under no obligation to provide.
It may also be important to refrain from elaborating on questions the insurance adjuster asks. Giving just ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers will suffice in many circumstances. When that is not possible, provide the simplest answer to the question and go no further. Accident victims should never speculate about what happened or provide what they think are the facts of the case, especially when it pertains to what caused the accident.
#4. Tell the Truth
While accident victims should never speculate or elaborate, they should always tell the truth. Exaggerating the extent of injuries or outright lying about the cause of the accident will not help their case. Insurance companies are aggressive in investigating claims, and if they find even the smallest discrepancy between their findings and the statement of an accident victim, it may be grounds for them to deny the claim. When speaking with insurance adjusters, it is important to provide only the facts and be as honest as possible.
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#5. Consider Speaking with an Attorney
A knowledgeable and experienced car accident attorney could help collision victims in many ways—from diffusing situations in which the insurance company is acting unfairly, to advising on whether the insured party is obligated to answer certain questions, to reviewing settlement offers. With skilled counsel on their side, accident victims may not even need to speak to the insurance adjuster. Call an Indiana car wreck lawyer today to learn the many ways we could help car crash victims.