If you’ve recently been in a car accident, you’ll likely receive a call from an insurance adjuster within a day or two. While this is a completely normal and necessary step after an accident, it’s important to know what you should — and shouldn’t — say to them.
Here at G. Aldrich Law, we’ve been helping clients deal with insurance adjusters for nearly 15 years. We know how important these phone calls can be. Below, we’ll outline what you need to know to ensure your case and personal injury claim is handled fairly and professionally.
Our offices are located in Lakeport and Woodland Hills, California, and we also serve clients throughout Lake County, Los Angeles County, Colusa County, Riverside County, and surrounding Northern and Southern California counties.
Most insurance adjusters are decent people — but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an agenda! Their goal is to close your car accident claim as soon as possible and for the lowest amount possible. They need to gather evidence from anyone who was part of the accident or who witnessed it, determine who is held liable for the damages, and then assign a dollar amount for the expenses they’ll cover. Like everyone, they're busy and just trying to save money, so that means it’s your job to ensure your needs and expenses are covered. Your goal is to have the claim completed on your schedule, not theirs.
Every insurance company needs to obtain a statement from the people who were involved in the accident. This is true even if the other driver was at fault. This is all part of the claims process, and most insurance adjusters want this as soon as possible. Remember, they’re trying to close out your claim quickly and cheaply so they can move on to the next one.
Adjusters will likely call you a day or two after the accident and ask for your statement. You should refuse this politely. The adjuster’s goal is to use what you say to build their case and decide the settlement they ultimately offer. They’re also looking for ways to use your statement against you.
When you’re caught off guard by an unscheduled phone call and asked to give a verbal statement, you’ll likely forget some details or even confuse the events of what happened because you weren’t expecting to speak about it right away. This happens to almost everyone. They’ll even sometimes ask you confusing, repetitive questions in the hopes that you’ll trip up on your words and say something that contradicts a previous answer.
By poking holes in your story or finding inconsistencies, they’re trying to gather evidence to reduce your compensation. Don’t let them do this! Yes, you will have to provide a statement for them eventually, but you are under no obligation to do it over the phone. Instead, tell them that you’re still investigating the incident and you’ll provide a written statement soon. You should also refuse any initial settlement they offer as it’s almost always lower than what you really deserve.
All that said, you still may choose to give a statement. If you do, there are some key tips to keep in mind. First off, many adjusters will ask if they can record the phone call — say no! You’re not legally required to be recorded, and they can’t record you without your consent. When people know they’re being recorded, it makes them more nervous and prone to slip up in their speech. The adjuster can then use this recorded statement against you and there’s very little you can do to refute it at this point.
If you do give details about the accident, keep it as brief as possible and don’t admit guilt. You can tell them the time and place of the accident, what other cars or witnesses were involved, and very simply what happened (for example, “my car was hit from behind by another car”). Don’t go into detail and don't offer additional information.
The adjuster will ask you a lot of questions, so don’t answer anything you don’t know the answer to. Lastly, the adjuster may ask to send you a copy of your statement and ask you to sign it. Don’t do this unless you’ve had an attorney look over it. By signing, you’re essentially giving up your right to amend or clarify the things that you said.
When an adjuster calls, there are a few things they can ask for that you should tell them. First, they will ask for basic personal information. You can tell them your first and last name, address, and phone number. You can also tell them your occupation and your employer, though you shouldn’t answer questions about your work such as salary or schedules.
They’ll also ask about any injuries you sustained. It’s very important not to give them any details about this since you likely will have no idea the scope of your injuries or the expenses related to them. You can simply tell the adjuster that you’re still receiving medical treatment and you’ll include more information in your written statement.
Dealing with an insurance company is the last thing you need to worry about after you’ve been in a car accident. The best advice is to follow these steps when they do call, and then leave the rest of the negotiating to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Give us a call today if you’re in or around Lakeport or Woodland Hills, California. We can help you deal with the insurance companies and get a fair settlement that covers all your expenses.