One of the most common and harmful mistakes that a driver can make after being involved in a car accident is sharing too much information with the at-fault party’s insurance company. But how much information is too much? It’s best if you don’t provide any information when the other party’s insurance adjuster contacts you.
To understand why you shouldn’t share any information with the other party’s insurance adjuster, you must understand how that adjuster’s job works and his goals. Any time there’s a car accident, each insurance company opens an investigation into the accident to determine which driver was at fault. The insurance adjuster from the at-fault driver’s insurance company is running that company’s investigation, but his goal is not to get to the bottom of what happened or ensure that you as a victim are fairly compensated. His goal is to minimize the amount of money that his insurance company ends up paying out on every claim. He does this by either getting your claim dismissed or settling it for as little as possible.
The at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster will probably act friendly with you, and this is one of the reasons so many drivers are too trusting. They feel like the insurance adjuster is their friend, when in actuality he’s working against them. Each time he talks to you, he’s trying to obtain evidence that builds his case and weakens yours.
One of the main ways that insurance adjusters do this is through recorded statements. The adjuster asks you to make a recorded statement about what happened. Many people do this without hesitation, thinking that it’s not a problem since they have nothing to hide.
Even if you know that you weren’t at fault for the accident, it’s still never a smart decision to make a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance adjuster. There’s no way it can help you, because the only one who will have the statement is the insurance adjuster who is working against your claim. The only thing that a recorded statement can do is hurt you. The insurance adjuster will likely use conversational tactics to get you to inadvertently say something that could weaken your claim, such as admitting to speeding or mentioning that you didn’t see something.
After the insurance adjuster has your recorded statement, he’s going to compare that to any other statements that are on file from you, such as statements you made to police officers at the scene of the accident. If he finds any contradictions or inconsistencies, he can use those against you. Let’s say that your claim ends up going to court, and you’re being cross examined. The opposing counsel can use your recorded statement while cross examining you, and again, any contradictions or inconsistencies will be used against you. You’ll end up looking untrustworthy.
Don’t think that just because you’re going to tell the truth that your story will be the same every time. It’s normal for us to remember details of an accident with time, or realize something new. Injuries often don’t present symptoms until days after a car accident, so you could have told an officer at the scene that you were uninjured, only to discover days later that you did suffer an injury. However, if you tell an officer that you are fine, but then say in a recorded statement that you were injured, the insurance adjuster will try to use that against you.
Keep in mind that the insurance adjuster has plenty of experience in talking to drivers and getting them to say things that weaken their cases. He does this every day, and if he wasn’t good at his job, he wouldn’t keep it for very long. Most people don’t get into many car accidents, so you won’t have near the level of experience that the insurance adjuster does.
The best thing to do after a car accident is to hire a lawyer to represent you. Then, your lawyer can communicate with the other driver’s insurance. Not only will your lawyer know what to say, but what your lawyer says can’t be used to incriminate you or weaken your claim, since he wasn’t at the scene of the accident