After a car crash, bicycle crash or a pedestrian accident, you might receive a phone call or even an unannounced visit from an insurance adjuster who works for the insurer of the person who caused your injuries and damages. No matter how sympathetic that individual might sound, he or she isn’t contacting you as a friend. That adjuster’s interests are directly opposed to your interests. With that phone call or knock on your door, a defense to your personal injury claim for damages is beginning to be built. Don’t help that insurance company build it.
The Insurance Adjuster’s Job
When an insured person is negligent and causes an accident that you’re injured in, a claim for damages can be made with the company that insures him or her. The insurer will probably be required to compensate you for the injuries and damages that you suffered. It’s the insurance adjuster’s job to try and minimize or even deny payment on your claim.
Don’t Relinquish Control of Your Claim
The opposing insurance company will want to try and maintain control over a claim. That’s done by controlling the evidence in it. One tactic that insurers use is to obtain a written or recorded statement from the accident victim. Accident victims can become quickly confused about their rights and duties. Most of them fail to contemplate the consequences of how giving an insurance company a statement can impact their claim or lawsuit. They don’t realize that their own words from that statement can be used against them in the future.
Prior Inconsistent Statements in Civil Cases
Any personal injury claim or a lawsuit is a civil case. When an insurance adjuster or insurance defense attorney tries to use a statement against a declarant, he or she is relying on the rules of evidence involving prior inconsistent statements. In a civil case, a statement made by an injury claimant in the past is generally admissible into evidence if it is inconsistent with their present testimony. What that means is that a person’s own words in a statement can be used against him or her in settlement negotiations or a trial in an unexpected attack on their credibility.
Just Say No
The law doesn’t require you to assist an opposing insurer is preparing its defense against your claim or lawsuit. No matter what an insurance adjuster says, you’re under no legal obligation to give any type of statement without an attorney being present on your behalf. Politely refuse to give any type of a statement and end the call or visit.
Don’t Fall for Scare Tactics or Attempts at Deception
You might be told that your claim file will be closed if you don’t give a statement. That’s fine. Let the adjuster close the file. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to have that file opened up again in a matter of minutes. Until you consult with a dedicated and experienced personal injury attorney, don’t give the opposing insurance company any type of information. That company’s adjuster might even tell you that you don’t need an attorney for your claim. Don’t believe that. He or she is only trying to minimize what the insurer pays you for your damages.
After being injured in an accident, nearly all reputable personal injury law firms will be pleased to consult with you at no cost or obligation whatsoever. There are no up-front charges to retain them either. Rather than give control of your claim to the opposing insurer, give it to a quality personal injury attorney before the opposing insurance company has an opportunity to try to control the evidence in the case. Doing so might help your attorney maximize the settlement or award that you deserve.