Unfortunately, many of us have had the misfortune of experiencing an automobile crash. In fact, if you haven’t, you’re probably very young, very lucky, or both! Statistics suggest that the average driver will file an insurance claim for a collision approximately once every 17.9 years.
While that doesn’t sound too bad at first blush, over the course of a lifetime that could easily be three crashes for the average driver. Certainly, some of those accidents may be relatively minor. Unfortunately, some can cause serious personal injury or death.
But no matter what kind of accident you have, one thing is constant – you will almost certainly need to deal with one or more insurance adjusters (sometimes called a “claims adjuster”). In this article, we’ll give you a few tips.
Tip #1: Know Who You’re Talking To
Things get hectic after an automobile or semi-truck crash. Most often, cars need to be repaired or replaced, and sometimes drivers need rental cars. And since personal injuries often require medical treatment and even hospitalization, it may be impossible to work for a period of time. Hopefully, insurance is available to cover all of these expenses.
An important point to remember is that there may be multiple insurance companies involved in resolving the claim – and they all want to talk to you. Therefore, make sure you know who is on the phone (or who is approaching you in person). Drivers have a contractual obligation to report accidents and cooperate with their own insurance company.
But you may also be contacted by an insurance adjuster that represents another driver’s insurance company. You do not have the same obligation to cooperate with other companies and should be very guarded in communicating with these adjusters until you have an opportunity to speak with your own lawyer.
Tip #2: Understand that Insurance Adjusters Have an Advantage
This is a natural follow-up to Tip #1. Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators who already understand the legal system – and often have attorneys assisting them. When another driver’s insurance adjuster speaks with you, he or she is well-versed in how to take every possible step to limit your recovery.
After all, the adjuster works for a business that seeks to maximize profits. The best way to do that is to seek admissions from you and attempt to prove that their driver is not responsible for the accident.
If they are forced to admit liability on the part of their driver, a common strategy is to attempt to limit their exposure by suggesting that your injuries are minor or unrelated to the accident. This is why it’s so important to be guarded in your communications with the other company’s insurance adjusters.
Tip #3: Retain an Attorney Early in the Process
Tips #1 and #2 should make this one obvious. A good personal injury attorney has a tremendous amount of experience working with insurance adjusters. The attorney can level the playing field and help the victim in his or her dealings with insurance adjusters.
Additionally, by getting an attorney early in the game, you’ll have a head start in investigating the accident, preserving evidence, and properly documenting your case.
Tip #4: Remember the Opposing Insurance Adjuster May Be Watching You
Because insurance adjusters are trained to understand the legal system, they know that a victim’s appeal to a jury may play a part in the final award amount if the claim goes to trial. Thus, the adjuster is interested in how a victim presents him- or herself.
Always treat adjusters professionally and with courtesy, even if you don’t give them what they want. Additionally, when dealing with adjusters (or the insurance company’s attorney), dress and act with care. We’re not suggesting that you create a false image – only that you present the best version of your true self.
Tip #5: Remember that Insurance Adjusters Reverse Roles for Uninsured (or Underinsured) Motorist Claims
This one may seem complicated to people who don’t routinely work with insurance. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, your own insurance company will have to pay if you recover under that coverage. Therefore, your company and adjuster will want to limit your recovery under that particular coverage. As such, they will act the way an insurance adjuster from another company would act.
Again, having a lawyer goes a long way in easing your mind on how to handle this issue.
Call with Questions
If you’ve been injured in a car or semi-truck accident, you likely have questions on how to deal with insurance adjusters. Please call us and we’ll be happy to answer them. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield believe that all Oregon drivers will be safer if negligent drivers are held accountable to society.