Should I Ever Speak with the Other Party’s Insurance Company After an Auto Accident?
After an auto accident is the worst time for you to discuss details with the other party. You may be injured and are most likely in shock. You may even be confused about what happened.
In the eyes of the other driver’s insurance company, however, right after the accident is a perfect time to approach you to ask about your injuries and the accident. While they may sound concerned for your welfare, the goal of the other driver’s insurance company is to get the claim dropped or pay as little as possible. You must be careful about what you say and what information you provide.
You are not obligated to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. By talking to them, you may end up ruining your case to recover damages. Often, insurance company representatives will try and use whatever you say against you. They are trained to encourage you to say the wrong things. Before you talk to an insurance company, it is a good idea to get in touch with an experienced California personal injury lawyer like Eric Ratinoff to advise you of your rights.
Why Would the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Contact You?
A claim or insurance adjuster’s job is to investigate cases to determine the extent of the insurance company’s liability. They want to find evidence that you were at fault or that your injuries and damages are minor. Insurance adjusters use many tricks to trip you up.
They often sound friendly and ask what appear to be innocent questions. Were you listening to music or eating something in the car? What was going on in the street around you at the time? The insurance company could use such questions to establish that you were distracted while driving or somehow at fault for the accident and your injuries.
The adjuster may be trying to get you talking before you have had a chance to process what happened in the accident. They benefit from talking to you before you can speak with a personal injury attorney, so they can trick you into saying something incriminating or agree to a quick, low settlement amount.
Don’t Give an Insurance Company a Recorded Statement!
Insurance adjusters review cases by speaking to the claimant as well as any witnesses. They will likely ask you if they can take a recorded statement. They will look at your medical record and the police report and compare them to your recorded statement. They can use any inconsistencies to get your claim dropped.
A recorded statement could seriously damage your case because anything you say can be used against you in court to make your claim invalid. Do not agree to let anyone record your statement, whether by writing or over the phone. The intent of a recorded statement is to lock you into a version of events that could devalue your claim. Because an insurance company can use recorded statements to implicate you, leave negotiations to an experienced auto accident attorney.
Be Careful When you Speak with your Insurance Company.
You are required by law to inform your own insurance company following a road accident. You should speak with them within 24 hours if you are able. Although it might not matter to them whether you were at fault or not, they could try to reduce the amount they pay on your insurance claim.
California is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning you can collect recovery regardless of the degree of your fault. However, the courts will reduce any compensation you recover by the percentage of the accident that was your fault. Regardless of who was at fault, most of your lost wages, medical bills, and car damages are covered by your Personal Insurance Protection (PIP) firm. That means that you also need to be careful with your own insurance company.
Before you agree to answer any questions, ask for the insurance company’s name, the name of the person to whom you speak, and their job title. Only answer basic questions and do not volunteer information about the accident or your injuries.
Tell them your name, address, and phone number, and the name of your insurance company. Tell them that you will have a personal injury attorney contact them regarding your case.
Avoid saying anything they could use to refuse payment or reduce the amount of your claim.
Most Auto Accidents Arise from Someone’s Negligence.
Negligence is the legal premise that if someone fails to act with reasonable care, resulting in the injury of another person, they are liable for the damages. To be found guilty of negligence, a plaintiff must prove four things:
- The defendant (the accused) owed the plaintiff (the injured party) a duty of care.
- The defendant was negligent, careless, or reckless in some way that breached their duty of care.
- The defendant’s act of negligence (Breach of duty) was the primary cause of the car crash.
- The accident caused compensable damages. Damages can include physical injury, pain, suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, medical bills, lost wages, the lost capacity to work, lost quality of life, and property damage.
Speak to a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer
At Eric Ratinoff Law Corp, our Sacramento personal injury lawyers will investigate your claims for signs of negligence. We can give you legal advice, guide you through the process, and ensure that you are not taken advantage of by insurance companies. If we believe you have a case, we can help you hold one or more defendants accountable.
We have the necessary resources to support your injury claim. Our law firm works with subject matter experts, medical imaging technology, graphic storyboards, and micro-documentaries. We have more than 25 years of legal experience representing injured people in California. In that time, we have worked hard to recover millions for our clients. Discuss your claim in more detail today. Call (916) 579-7658 for a free consultation.