Although you must report an accident to your insurance company, you are not obligated to answer all their questions. We have tips for your first call with the insurance adjuster after an accident. Knowing your rights can prevent you from saying too much and reducing the damages you can receive for your injuries.
Information the Company Needs to Know
The best tip is to restrict yourself to simple facts, such as:
- All parties’ contact information
- Car make and model
- Other vehicles involved
- Time and place of the accident
Think of your first call with an adjuster as a mere acknowledgment of the accident’s existence, rather than an explanation of it. Stick to who, what, where, and when, and leave out the why for now.
Report Your Accident
While you need to be careful what you say on your call, remember that you can’t avoid talking to an adjuster at all – you must let them know an accident happened. Moreover, Georgia law requires you to report to the police any accident causing injury, death, or property damage exceeding $500 (OCGA §40-6-273). In short, the accident will be on the record, regardless.
If you report the crash to the police but not your insurance company, they may find out and use your lack of reporting as an excuse to deny your claim. Failure to report an accident to insurance can bolster the other party’s claim that you were not injured and do not deserve damages. In other words, say something, but not everything.
Stick to the Truth and Be Nice
Don’t lie. If you don’t know something, are unsure, or feel like you shouldn’t answer a question, tell the insurance adjuster that you can’t comment at this time. Even white lies could come back to bite you. Be honest and brief.
Another important tip in speaking with an insurance adjuster for the first time after a crash is to maintain your cool. Being angry, frustrated, or rude will potentially paint you in a bad light should your case go to court. Be polite.
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Information that Can Wait
Your priority and the insurance adjuster’s may be at odds – you want to give as little information as possible, while they want to gain as much as possible. Stick to your own goals rather than giving into theirs.
Avoid any of the following:
- Mention of injuries, either yours or the other party’s
- Descriptions of what you were doing when the crash happened
- Speculation about what the other party was doing when the crash occurred
- Accusations of who is liable for the accident
- Comments of regret, sorrow, or apology
- Providing a recorded statement
Even in the initial phone call, the adjuster wants details that can help them close the claim quickly, using probing questions or information-gathering disguised as casual conversation or sympathy. Although their approach is to make the call feel like they’re checking up on you, their motivation is identifying how to pay less.
There Is No Rush to Settle
An insurance company may offer you a settlement very early after your accident. Being offered money in the immediate aftermath of the crash is tempting. However, keep in mind a few important questions:
- If you aren’t sure of your injuries yet, how can they know the amount of money you need to pay for care?
- How can you or they know about possible complications or lost income you will face later?
- Does the settlement consider the exact amount of income you have missed?
- Does the settlement provide compensation for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other non-economic damages?
- Why do you need to accept a settlement right away instead of reviewing and negotiating?
The insurance company doesn’t know the full details of your case, but they are hoping that the amount they provide will be enough to placate you. However, you have time to:
- Review your options
- Speak to one of our injury attorneys
- Understand your medical and financial situation fully
Statutes of Limitations Could Affect Your Case
In addition, Georgia allows you two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit (OCGA §9-3-33). We can use those two years to:
- Negotiate with an insurance company
- Gather evidence
- Investigate the causes of your accident
- Consult experts about your prognosis and future losses
The insurance company is in a hurry, but you are not.
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Remember Your Rights
If you still are uncertain about some aspects of your insurance call, being aware of your rights can help guide you through the situation. You have a right to:
- Talk to an attorney
- Keep the call short and on your schedule
- Review paperwork before agreeing to anything
- Question claim denials
- Consult doctors before speaking about your injuries
- Take time to process the accident
- File a lawsuit
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Talk to Us First
Our car accident injury team can provide additional tips for your first insurance adjuster call. When in doubt, speak to a lawyer first. Our initial consultation is also free, allowing you to gain some information and peace of mind right away.
Call Kaine Law today to learn more.