California Car Accident Victims: Avoid the Number 1 Mistake When Dealing With Insurance Adjusters
As an Oakland personal injury lawyer for over 27 years, I have seen how simple mistakes when dealing with insurance adjusters can cost client auto accident victims dearly. I have written a brochure to help people who have been involved in accidents, entitled “8 Critical Mistakes that Can Cost You Thousands of Dollars If You’ve Been Injured in an Accident.” I previously blogged about the mistake of signing medical authorizations. Today, I would like to discuss the number 1 mistake people make, which is giving written or recorded statements to insurance adjusters.
Frequently, within days and sometimes within hours of a car accident, insurance adjusters for the other person’s insurance company will give you a call to discuss your claim. Invariably, in that initial conversation they will ask for a recorded statement. It is always a mistake to agree to this. Adjusters may say they need it if you wish to settle your claim. Or they may be more brazen and question whether you have something to hide. They will say anything to coax you into giving the statement. You don’t have to give it.
What is the problem with cooperating and giving the recorded statement? There are several. First, the insurance adjuster has a distinct advantage over you in terms of knowledge about claims. For most people, giving a statement to an adjuster is a rare event; but for the seasoned adjuster, they have taken literally hundreds if not thousands of statements. Therefore, they know what information is helpful to their position and harmful to yours, and you don’t. Second, insurance adjusters will often ask questions about things that they are not entitled to know about. Without proper understanding of the law, the innocent victim has no way of knowing what information the insurance company is or is not entitled to. Next, questions about how an accident occurred or the nature and extent of injuries, can be vague or ambiguous. You may be thinking the adjuster is asking you one thing, when in fact they are really asking you something else. Or you may give an ambiguous statement that is later twisted in its meaning so that the words are used against you. Or you may simply make a mistake in your statement, which you later realize but it is now too late to correct.
The bottom line is there is no upside potential to giving a statement, written or recorded, to an insurance adjuster, and there is plenty of downside. Once the statement is given, it can never be retracted. You can later try to explain what was meant or why you said a specific thing in giving the description of the accident or a description of your injuries, but the insurance company will continually harken back to what you said within days of the accident.
If you have been injured in an auto accident which was caused by someone else’s negligence, you have a legal right to file a personal injury claim. Legally, you are entitled to compensation for all of your medical bills, those incurred and those likely to occur in the future, all of your lost earning, past and future, and full compensation for the pain and suffering you have experienced. In the case of serious injuries, the pain and suffering may be a permanent, life long condition. It is truly a tragedy when one who is seriously injured in a car accident does not receive full compensation for these losses due to simple mistakes, which were made when giving a statement to an insurance company, before contacting a personal injury attorney.