Be careful what you say when an insurance adjuster contacts you shortly after an accident. The initial communication may set the tone for the settlement negotiations and even determine your settlement. Ideally, this first talk should be a fact-finding one with the real negotiations to come later. Below are some practical tips on how to talk with the adjuster for the first time after an accident.
Be Calm and Respectful
Emotions run high after an accident. You might find yourself being rude and disrespectful to the adjuster if you aren’t careful. Don’t forget that:
- The adjuster is not responsible for your woes — they are just doing their job.
- Your emotions might make you say things that could hurt your case.
- You might need the adjuster’s goodwill to believe and expedite your claim.
Always speak calmly and respectfully to the adjuster.
Identify the Speaker
Identify the speaker immediately during the call. Confirm that you are speaking with an insurance adjuster with the authority to handle your case. Specifically, you should get the speaker’s:
- Phone number
- Employer’s (insurance company’s) name
You should also get the name of the person or organization that the insurance company is representing. Otherwise, you might unwittingly divulge damaging information to irrelevant parties.
Give Limited Information
Don’t divulge too much information even after you have confirmed the adjuster’s identity. Information you can give includes:
- Your name
- Your telephone number
- Your address
- Your employment or work status
On the other hand, you should not discuss:
- Your daily schedule
- Your income
- Details of your injuries
- Details of the accident
- Identification and contact information of witnesses
You can give general information about these issues. For example, you can give the location and time of the accident. However, don’t go into details, for example, by suggesting the cause of the crash.
First, it’s likely that you won’t have all the information when the adjuster first calls. Secondly, the information you do have might be erroneous. Lastly, the adjuster doesn’t need all these details during the first contact. You might hurt your case and reduce your chances of settlement if you talk too much.
Preserve every communication with the insurance adjuster from the first contact to the settlement agreement. You can use the information to:
- Assess the progress of the negotiations with time
- Confirm the adjuster’s honesty and credibility
- Help your lawyer understand what you have told the adjuster so far
Taking notes of the communication is the best way to preserve relevant information. Do this as soon as the communication is over, or even during the communication if possible. That way, you reduce the risks of forgetting critical information.
Resist Immediate Settlement
The adjuster might push you to accept a settlement offer as soon as possible. Resist such offers since you probably:
- Don’t know the true worth of your case at this point
- Haven’t gathered all the necessary evidence, such as witness testimonies, to prove your case
- Haven’t reached your maximum point of medical recovery
Ideally, you should wait and discuss the case with your lawyer before you consider any offer. Don’t forget that claim settlement is a negotiation process. Hence, the adjuster’s first offer isn’t the maximum they can offer. If the adjuster persists, refer them to your attorney if you already have one.
Don’t Give Recorded Information
Lastly, don’t give any recorded information to the adjuster at this point. Remember, you probably don’t have the whole picture at this first point of contact. You also shouldn’t sign any documents, including waivers or statement forms.
You can handle an injury case without a lawyer, but having an experienced lawyer can make a world of difference in the settlement process. With over 20 years of experience in the legal industry, Shapiro Law Group has what it takes to strengthen your case. Contact us for a free initial consultation to determine the best course of action for your case.