One of the biggest questions that we face on a daily basis from people calling for consultation after a car accident or about a personal injury claim is that I messed up by talking to the adjuster? First of all other than determining what exactly occurred in the crash there is no rule or requirement that the injured person give a statement to the adverse insurance company.
When the Adjuster Calls?
Many adjustors will try to bully their way to obtain a recorded statement by saying things like: “I can’t process the claim without it”, or “without a recorded statement we will close the file”. These statements tend to intimidate the personal injury victim who ends up giving a recorded statement that can be used against them to someone who is trained to take statements to obtain information that may be useful in defending the case.
Trained in Negotiation
Many insurance companies send their adjusters to classes to learn how to elicit responses that are helpful in the defense of their case. While the adjuster may be simply trying to gather information, some adjusters clearly are attempting to create defenses by the way they asked their questions.
Oral Agreements Binding in Texas
Further, a recent Texas court has held that oral settlement agreements contained in a recorded statement or enforceable against the victim. At the very minimum, if the other adjuster calls and you have sustained serious injuries you should speak with a qualified personal injury attorney prior to giving any recorded statement.
Injury Claims are Separate
Most claims are separated into property damage and personal injury. One adjuster will handle the property damage in a separate adjuster will handle the personal injury claim.
Dealing with your property damage can be made much simpler by following the following guidelines:
- If your vehicle is repairable take it to the shop that you trust to fix it properly and let the shop deal directly with the adverse insurance company regarding the costs.
- If your vehicle is totaled, go online or to your dealer to get a realistic value for your vehicle and be prepared with these facts when you discuss the amount your car is worth with the adjuster. In this case, the fair market value will be increased for tax title and license fees which the insurance company must also reimburse you.
We always advise victims never to consider settlement or payment of any sort why you’re still being treated for your injuries. In very serious crashes, the insurance company frequently pushes for an early settlement open to shifting the risk of loss for extended treatment from their burden to yours. Quick settlements are never a good idea.
Wait Until You Get a Handle on Your Diagnosis
If you have not seen a specialist and are still experiencing problems, do not assume that your injury is simply what was diagnosed in the emergency room. Many more sophisticated tests such as CT scans or MRIs can reveal a diagnosis that was unavailable to the emergency room physicians because they did not run these more sophisticated test procedures.
Be very wary of questions about “all your injuries” when you do not know the extent of your injuries at the time the adjuster inquires. You are not a doctor and emergency room treatment is for emergencies and not ongoing help. Do not get caught in the trap of telling the adjuster your injuries when you do not know the extent of them.
Recorded Statements Only Hurt Your Claim
Understand that if you do give a recorded statement everything that you say in the statement can be used against you at trial. Your recorded statement cannot help you at trial but it certainly can hurt you.
If you feel compelled to give the adjuster information regarding the accident, consider refusing a recorded statement instead letting the adjuster take notes. The odds of this being used against you are much less because the adjuster would have to appear at trial as a witness.
Questions on Causation of the Accident
One area that adjusters always inquire about in recorded statements is how you perceive the accident. Often they are asked leading questions such as “when did you first hit your brakes?” Or “when did you first see the other vehicle?” or “what invasive actions did you take?” In each of these instances, they are assuming facts that may not be accurate.
Obviously, they are hoping that they can gather admissions from you which man able them to shift responsibility at least in part to you for the crash.
Texas is a comparable responsibility jurisdiction, meaning that everybody’s actions are measured to determine fault in a crash. To the extent that the victim has some negligence attributable to them it generally reduces their recovery amount of money recovered in the case.
Do not give a recorded statement to the adverse adjuster. If you feel compelled to give information to the adjuster insisted it is taken orally and not be recorded.
If your car is repairable, have the shop you choose deal directly with the adverse insurance company regarding payment and repairs.
If your car is totaled, be prepared to name your number based on facts that support your valuation of the vehicle.
Don’t Talk Settlement While Treating
Do not consider a settlement while you were still being treated for your injuries unless your statute of limitations is approaching.
Please visit our Houston auto crash page.