If you’ve been in a car accident involving any major vehicle damage or any injury whatsoever, you are likely to hear from an insurance adjuster. Dealing with your own insurance company’s adjuster may be fairly straightforward. When contacted by the other driver’s insurance adjuster, however, you need to be very, very careful.
The adjuster may be friendly, but he’s not your friend. What sounds like a friendly, casual phone call is secretly designed to minimize the validity and value of your claim. The adjuster might seem like a nice person. Regardless, never forget that their job is to resolve your case for as little money as possible. Their success in their job and how much they make depend in large part on their ability to settle claims on the cheap.
Because of the conflict of interest between the adjuster and yourself, you need to be very mindful of what you say to them. If you are asked to provide a recorded statement, your best move is to decline and call a lawyer before going any further. The adjuster may try to encourage you, but — and I cannot state this strongly enough — you are under no legal obligation whatsoever to provide such a statement. They may tell you that they just want to get your case settled as quickly as possible for your benefit, but in reality, the benefit is theirs.
The insurance companies have sophisticated algorithms that allow them to construct an initial offer based on the nature of your accident and claim. These numbers are designed to be just compelling enough that you’ll consider accepting them, but they are well short of what your claim is actually worth. Insurance companies know from experience that people get more money when they hire an attorney (even after the attorney is paid) than those who don’t. That is why they want to settle your case before you have a chance to discuss it with a lawyer.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means they receive a percentage of what they obtain for you in settlement or at trial. If they don’t get money for you, they don’t get paid. With no initial cost, there is really no downside to speaking to an attorney after an accident.
Of course, the first person you should talk to after an injury is a doctor. Receiving proper, high-quality medical care is essential to protect your health and document your injuries for use in pursuing your legal claim. If you think there is even the slightest chance you may be injured, seek medical attention. After you do that, though, consider calling an attorney, ideally before any adjusters contact you.
I’ve written a free guide, “Win Your Texas Injury Case,” which you can find and download on my website at DavidToddLaw.com. Read it to learn crucial details about dealing with insurance adjusters and other aspects of your personal injury case. Nobody wants an accident to happen, but if one does, this information will help prepare you to protect your rights.