It doesn't take long for an insurance company to leap into action after you've been in a car wreck. An insurance adjuster will likely hurry to get into contact with you, in hopes that your claim can be handled quickly (and cheaply).
Be careful. Talking to an insurance adjuster seldom benefits an injury victim. The adjuster's entire job is to minimize the losses the insurance company faces — so they're always listening closely for anything that can be used to devalue your claim.
Here are some ways to handle that phone call and protect your claim:
1. Only talk about absolute facts.
If you barely remember how the accident happened, that's not unusual. Many accidents happen so fast that the exact sequence of events is lost. That won't stop the insurance adjuster from trying to lock you into a narrative that could later prove faulty or disadvantageous to your claim.
When the insurance adjuster tries to ask questions about what happened before, during, and immediately after the claim, simply decline to discuss it. Instead, stick to the facts that the adjuster needs immediately to open a file and offer nothing more. You can tell the adjuster:
- Where the accident happened
- The time the accident occurred
- What parties were involved
- The names of any witnesses or uninjured passengers
- Where your vehicle was towed
Don't speculate on anything that you aren't 100% sure is accurate, such as the other car's speed, what was happening in traffic, and so on.
2. Keep mum about your injuries.
The insurance adjuster may sound very kind and concerned about your injuries — but discussing your condition too early could be a problem. Many soft-tissue injuries take days or weeks to fully develop, so commenting on the extent of your injuries right away could give a false impression that you aren't really hurt.
If you went directly to the hospital after the wreck or saw a doctor right away, it's okay to tell the insurance adjuster that you were injured and have sought medical treatment. You can even tell them where. However, you should not describe your injuries just in case they haven't fully manifested. Just tell the adjuster that you aren't entirely sure about the extent of your injuries or your prognosis at this time.
3. Decline to give a recorded statement.
You are under no obligation to give a recorded statement at this time — but that won't stop the insurance adjuster from trying to get one. It's never a good idea to commit to anything when you're hurting, on pain meds, or still in shock from a wreck. Politely decline by saying, "No, not at this time," when you are asked.
If you've been in a wreck, don't try to handle the insurance company all on your own. Talk to an accident attorney about your situation and obtain more advice.