You have been involved in a car accident. What happens next?
Auto collision victims are often surprised to find that insurance adjusters begin contacting those days or even hours after a collision. This gives accident survivors very little time to gather their thoughts and prepare for a conversation. Insurance companies take advantage of this fact, often contacting policyholders when they are still disoriented and emotionally vulnerable in the wake of an accident.
What questions will an adjuster ask after a car accident? Read on to learn more about the questions you can expect to receive—and the answers that will best protect you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company.
Preparing yourself can help you defend your rights and stand up to tricky auto insurer tactics.
What Can I Expect When an Insurance Adjuster Contacts Me?
It is important to first understand the role of an insurance adjuster. An adjuster is an insurance company employee or third-party contractor hired to investigate your motor vehicle accident. Their job is to determine if and how much the insurance company should pay in damages to the injured party (in this case, you).
When an insurance adjuster contacts you, they will ask a series of questions. The answers to these questions provide the company with more information about the details and outcome of the accident. However, insurance companies are notorious for interpreting answers in a way that allows them to protect their bottom line by reducing payouts.
Primarily, an insurance company is a business. The goal of every conversation is to uncover information that can save the company money. Regardless of how friendly or concerned an adjuster seems on the phone, you should never forget the true purpose of their questions.
Questions Insurance Companies Often Ask After a Car Accident
So, what questions will an adjuster ask after a car accident? The following is a brief list of some of the questions you can expect to receive.
How Did the Accident Happen?
This question is an easy way for an insurance adjuster to give you a platform to admit fault for the accident. Many people tend to make apologies or confessions when describing the accident. Avoid phrases like “I missed the stop sign,” “I did not know the speed limit had changed,” “I did not see the other car,” “It all happened so fast I didn’t have time to stop,” and other similar admissions.
Another hazard is providing too much information. Let us say that you describe the accident in detail on the phone. Later, you may give another account with slightly varying details. Even if this is an honest mistake or forgetfulness on your part, your contradiction can be used to show that you are an untrustworthy witness.
There are also sure to be many contributing factors you are not aware of at the time an insurance adjuster contacts you. Instead of apologizing or accusing the other motorist, give a simple, fact-based description of what you know about the accident, without making any speculations. Then tell the adjuster that your attorney is still investigating the collision.
Where Were You Going When the Collision Occurred?
An insurance adjuster can twist the facts of your day to craft a narrative that portrays you as a negligent driver. A simple example can illustrate this point. An insurance adjuster asks where you were going when the accident happened. You answer that you were quickly returning home to grab the phone you left on the counter before heading to work. From this one-sentence answer, the adjuster can argue that you were speeding, preoccupied, rushing to get to work on time, and someone with a habit of using their phone behind the wheel.
It is easy to imagine countless other scenarios in which you can be painted as a distracted, hurried, careless, irresponsible, or reckless driver. There is no need to give the adjuster information about your day. Simply stating the location where the accident occurred is sufficient.
Were You Hurt in the Crash?
When you are asked this question, you may see it as a good opportunity to describe how severely you were injured. However, refrain from providing details about the nature and severity of your injury. If you describe your broken ankle to the adjuster, but then later find out that you also have a broken leg and internal injury, the adjuster may question why you did not reveal the latter injuries in your initial conversation. Do not go into detail about your injuries. Tell the adjuster you are seeking medical treatment and move on in the conversation.
How Are You Feeling?
One of the simplest yet most effective questions an adjuster can ask is: How are you? Insurance companies know that the polite response is to say you feel fine. But this socially acceptable nicety can be used by an adjuster as evidence that you are not seriously injured or not experiencing pain. Always be on alert when answering any questions an insurance adjuster asks after a car accident.
Stick to the Facts When Speaking With an Adjuster
When speaking with an adjuster, do not give in to the urge to place blame, defend yourself, or make conjectures about the incident. Remind yourself to keep your opinions and your emotions in check, no matter which direction the conversation takes. During the conversation, answers should be brief and to the point, without any unnecessary detail. Stick to the basic facts, which should be limited to topics such as:
- The date and time of the accident
- The crash location, including street names and intersections
- How many vehicles were involved
- Your name, address, and phone number
- Your employer, but no further information about the nature of your job
- That you are seeking medical treatment, but no further information about your injuries
- The name of your lawyer who will be handling future communications
There is no reason to be rude to an insurance adjuster. But there is also no reason to engage in sociable banter. Remember that anything you say, no matter how seemingly unrelated, can be used against you. Keep in mind: this is a business investigation conducted by a professional whose goal is to deny or reduce your compensation as much as possible.
Be Wary of an Insurance Adjuster’s Requests
There are two things an insurance adjuster may press you to do:
- Give access to your medical records
- Provide a recorded statement
You should never agree to either of these requests without speaking to your lawyer first.
Even if the request seems innocent and offhanded, remember that agreeing to these demands can seriously compromise your car accident claim. An adjuster may function as though it’s standard procedure for all policyholders to provide these things, but it is not.
Giving an insurance company access to your medical records opens the door for investigators to dredge up any past medical issues that can be linked to your current injuries. If an insurance adjuster asks for your medical records, it is in hopes that they can prove your injuries were caused or worsened by a preexisting medical condition, not your most recent accident. Doing this can save the company thousands of dollars or more by allowing them to deny you compensation for your medical bills.
Agreeing to give the insurance company a recorded statement is equally dangerous to your claim. When your words are recorded, they cannot be changed. If you make a mistake, omit important information, or speak before you have all the information needed to accurately answer a question, there is no way to undo the evidence that is now in the insurance company’s hands. Additionally, you cannot trust that an insurance company will not edit your conversation in a way that makes it seem like you are admitting fault.
If an adjuster asks you to record a statement or give access to your medical records, say that you need to speak to your lawyer first. Do not let yourself be pressured into making a decision you will soon regret.
Furthermore, there is no law that states you must answer all an insurance adjuster’s questions. If at any time during the conversation you feel uncomfortable, politely end the conversation, and refer any additional questions to your personal injury attorney.
Find a Law Team That Knows How Insurance Companies Operate
The car accident lawyers at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC have spent more than 150 combined years advocating for the rights of those injured in Jackson motor vehicle collisions. Through our work, we have built a reputation of excellence that extends throughout Mississippi. When you hire us to take your case, the insurance company knows you are serious.
Our legal practice is devoted to providing practiced, trustworthy legal representation to those who need it most. When we see billion-dollar auto insurance companies abuse the rights of injured car accident victims, we cannot just stand by and watch. Our personal injury law firm is dedicated to ensuring that each client receives the representation they deserve.
Contact Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, to begin a conversation about how we may be able to help you. We offer free consultations at our Jackson office to those seeking legal options for recovery after a car accident.