What You Should Not Say to Insurance Companies After an Accident
If you had the misfortune of being involved in a car accident and you are now passed the time of the exchange of information, the police report, and the seeking of medical attention, you may be wondering what is next. Well, not too long after the accident, the insurance companies will begin to call. The calls will be from your carrier and the carrier for the other driver.
This blog is about the next phase if you will; the time between the accident and the fact-finding. The advice contained below is for both drivers, regardless of fault, on what not to say, and certain things that should not be overlooked.
Before the Initial Call
Before the calls from the insurance companies begin, and they will soon, you will need to keep certain things in mind. This is a good time to organize your thoughts. Know that the results of this first conversation are important to your position and to that of the insurance company.
You certainly do not want to say too much, but you also do not want to come across as belligerent and rude.
No insurance company, not yours, and not the company insuring the other driver, wants you to be paid.
Also know that the insurance companies have an entire department of lawyers who, not only have already dissected the police report but have already positioned their defense as to any responsibility. The lawyers defending the position of the insurance company do not have your position in mind. They do not, and will not, represent you regardless of fault.
During this time, you should also be scheduling initial consultations with personal injury lawyers to represent your position. The chances are very good that the calls from the insurance companies will begin before you have secured your legal representation.
Georgia’s Modified Comparative Negligence Rule
As you collect and organize your thoughts, you also should be aware of this rule. This rule governs the allocation of fault between both drivers. This allocation can be anywhere from 0%-100%. This allocation is determined after all reports, statements and evidence has been gathered and examined. The results of the initial call with the insurance companies will be a part of this evidence.
The modified comparative negligence rule states that, if a person is found to be less than 50% at fault for the cause of the accident and/or the injury, then some of the damages can be recovered. If a person is found to be 50% or more responsible, then damages are not recoverable.
The results of this initial phone call will begin to either strengthen or weaken your position in the view of the insurance company.
Things Not to Say
The list below contains those things you should never say, under any circumstances, to an insurance agent or adjuster, during the initial call. Remember, the person to whom you are speaking is trained to keep you talking in the hopes you say something that weakens your position and strengthens theirs.
- There will be questions about the fault. Never admit to any fault or to anything that could be interpreted that you could have performed differently. Never.
- There will be questions about what you think happened, or you will be given time to voice your opinion. You do not have an opinion. There are two correct responses: “I do not know what happened” and “I do not know how it happened.” It is a tactic of the insurance agent to engage you in a conversation with the hope that you say something incriminating.
- There will be questions about the other driver. Do not cast any blame on the other driver. You need to stick to the script of your not knowing how and why the accident happened. If you have no opinion as to the accident, then you cannot speak of the other driver.
- There will be questions about your injuries. You do not speak of any injury.
- There will be questions about your consent to have the conversation recorded. If you are asked this question, your answer is “no.” If you feel you are being recorded whether or not the question was asked, then hang up.
- There may be a statement about your signing a release before any settlement is offered. Never agree to signing anything. Never.
What to Say and Do
Enough with the negative. There are some things you need to say and do, in addition to keeping a calm head, collected thoughts, and your insurance information on hand.
- Be polite. Even though you may be angry with yourself, the other driver, or whomever, do not let the insurance agent know this, and do not take your anger out on this person.
- Confirm the adjuster’s identity. Always make sure you know to whom you are speaking. This holds true whether the agent works for your carrier, the carrier of the other driver, or the carrier for a third party of whom you are not aware.
- Confirm your identity. It is helpful for the adjuster to know they are communicating with the right person pertaining to the right case file.
- Reschedule the call if you are not feeling up to the conversation or are not comfortable with speaking to an insurance company without being represented by an attorney. The call should be rescheduled to a later date to allow enough time for you to retain an attorney. The attorney should then be provided with the scheduled date and time for the call.
The advice contained in this blog applies to any insurance adjuster to whom you may speak after the accident—even the adjuster for your carrier. It is important for you to apply the advice given above equally to all insurance companies who may be reaching out to you.
Your position and ability to recover damages could be severely jeopardized in these early days before all evidence is gathered and examined.