You are already dealing with a lot as an accident victim in New Mexico with your injuries, medical treatments and missed time at work. Unfortunately, the insurance company that is in charge of your claim is likely to make things worse, not better. Keep the following tips in mind after an accident to protect yourself during conversations with an insurance claims adjuster.
Do Not Admit Fault
Insurance companies operate as for-profit businesses. This means they often make it difficult for claimants to receive the compensation that they deserve. When speaking to the insurance claims adjuster, or the agent assigned to resolve your claim, keep in mind that he or she is on the insurance company’s side, not yours. Do not admit to having anything to do with the accident. Don’t apologize or confess to being at fault. A confession could end the investigation of your incident early and block you from insurance benefits.
Keep Your Answers to Questions Short
When you are asked questions about your accident, keep your answers short and to the point. Do not give more detail than is necessary to answer the question. If you don’t know the answer to a question, such as who or what caused your accident, say you don’t know. Don’t speculate about fault or causation. Don’t answer any questions about your injuries in your initial conversation with the claims adjuster. Wait until you’ve seen a doctor and fully understand the nature and extent of your injuries to talk about them. Do not tell the adjuster that you are uninjured or feel fine.
Do Not Give a Recorded Statement
The recorded statement is a tactic often employed by insurance adjusters to get a claimant to say something that could hurt his or her claim later. Typically, the adjuster will ask to record the claimant during one of the first conversations about the accident, before the claimant fully understands all of the facts. Then, when more is discovered about the accident, the claims adjuster will use the recorded statement to show that the client is an unreliable witness. Politely decline to give a recorded statement and say that you will submit a written statement later instead.
Mention That You Will Hire an Attorney
At some point during your conversation with the claims adjuster, mention that you will be hiring an attorney to represent you during the claims process. Even if you don’t plan on doing so, mentioning a lawyer tells the insurer that you know what you’re doing and plan on protecting your legal rights. This can make the insurance company treat you more fairly even before you hire an attorney. If you do hire one, your lawyer can take over conversations with a claims adjuster for you to negotiate for maximum financial compensation.
Do Not Accept the First Settlement Offered
Another strategy typically used by insurance companies to save money on claims is to offer a low initial settlement. Insurance companies know that most accident victims don’t know the full values of their claims and are eager to resolve their cases and receive settlements as soon as possible. An insurance company can use this to its advantage to offer an inadequate amount initially in the hopes that the claimant will jump to accept the offer without negotiating.
Protect yourself by saying no to the first settlement offered to you. Use an attorney to negotiate for the financial compensation that you deserve for your injuries and losses from the insurer. Even if this means it will take longer to receive a settlement and resolve your case, it is important to wait until you are given a fair settlement before signing anything. Once you accept a settlement and release the defendant from further, you generally cannot reopen your case.
For more tips on how to deal with an insurance claims adjuster after an accident, contact an attorney for a free case consultation in Albuquerque.