When a person is injured in a car accident, they will need to speak with an insurance adjuster. However, insurance adjusters are there to look out for their company’s financial interests, not you.
A skilled South Carolina car accident lawyer can help prepare you for the inevitable confrontation. There are many things one should not say during these conversations. You should never accept fault or give statements downplaying the accident or your injuries. Insurance adjusters are skilled at using this information to reduce or deny your claim. Being prepared for what information you should provide can make all the difference.
If you were injured in an accident and will need to speak with an insurance adjuster, our South Carolina car accident lawyers can prep you first. For a free case review, call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers today at (803) 451-4000.
What You Should Know Before Talking to an Insurance Adjuster in South Carolina
Recovering compensation from a negligent driver’s insurance after a South Carolina car accident can be challenging, with many opportunities to harm your case. South Carolina is an at-fault state regarding insurance claims for car accidents, meaning you will file for insurance benefits against an at-fault driver’s policy. The danger here is that you will speak with the other driver’s insurance adjuster when giving statements and negotiating a settlement.
Shortly after receiving the report, insurance companies often designate an agent to reach out to the victim or victims. These agents, also known as claims adjusters, are tasked with handling your case in their employer’s best interests.
This is important to remember. Even though you may hear in commercials or advertising that insurance companies are there to help you, they are businesses that adhere to their own bottom line first. Their goal is not to help the injured party or even the party they insure. If they can take steps that will reduce their liability in the case of an accident, they will take them.
Insurance companies (and their claims adjusters) will often try to reduce liability after an accident by shifting the blame from the insured party. Therefore, they will use certain strategies to attempt to get the victim to inadvertently accept blame for their own accident, releasing them from liability.
The Insurance Adjuster’s Job
Contrary to popular commercials ensuring customers that they are there to help, an insurance adjuster’s primary objective is to make and save the insurance company money. They do this by selling policies and denying as many accident claims as possible. Insurance adjusters are trained to listen for statements that could be used to deny coverage and instead place the blame for the accident on you. Their questions will be designed in a way that even an answer you believe is completely benign could be used to support a version of events that is not accurate. However, someone will need to talk to the adjuster at some point.
How an Attorney Can Help
The most important thing you can do for your case is to speak with an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer before talking to an insurance adjuster. A car accident attorney will have experience speaking with insurance adjusters and know exactly what information to provide and what to hold back. It is common for attorneys to work with the same insurance adjusters on many cases. Having an attorney with already established working relationships with adjusters can significantly benefit your chances of recovery. Our Columbia car accident lawyers can review your case and prepare you before giving any statements to an insurance adjuster.
Do You Have to Talk to the Insurance Adjuster?
Thinking about having conversations with slick insurance agents while avoiding saying anything that could harm you might sound difficult. A much easier option is always available to you – don’t talk to them.
No law requires potential plaintiffs or personal injury victims to discuss their experience with the other party’s insurance company. No matter what they say or how much pressure they try to exert on you, it is up to you to decide whether you talk to them or not. We would advise you to decline all requests for an interview or phone call and instead designate your South Carolina personal injury attorney to handle all conversations with the insurance company on your behalf.
You are completely within your rights to direct the insurance company to contact your lawyer or to have your lawyer on the phone or with you in person during all conversations with insurance representatives. Instead of having to think about what you should and shouldn’t say to insurance claims adjusters, it can be relieving to have the experience and resources of a Sumter personal injury lawyer to help you from making a mistake that reduces your potential recovery value.
What You Should Not Discuss with an Insurance Adjuster After an Accident in South Carolina
If you find yourself discussing your recent personal injury with an insurance claims adjuster from the other side’s insurance provider, there are some critical areas that you should watch out for. Many potential claimants fall into these traps every year, so even though some may seem obvious, it is important to bear this advice in mind.
Always remember that insurance adjusters are looking for statements they can use to deny your claim or minimize the compensation they end up paying. Many people believe that they are helping by providing a statement to insurance, but in reality, they could be actively harming their case.
Do Not Downplay the Accident or Your Injuries
Never give a statement downplaying the accident. People tend to describe things in general terms, and you could give a statement that the insurance adjuster could use to argue that the accident was not as bad as you claim. If an accident is downplayed enough, an insurance adjuster might assert that the accident never occurred.
You should also not downplay your injuries. Statements downplaying injuries can be used to argue that the accident was not that serious and your damages not that extensive. It can seriously impact the amount of compensation you receive if an adjuster believes that your injuries were minor or contrived.
Do Not Accept Fault
You should never admit to any fault in the accident or your injuries. This encompasses more than just not saying that you made a mistake. Even blanket concessions, such as saying that you are “sorry” about the accident, can be used against you in court. Insurance claims adjusters know that they can introduce statements that you make to them that are against your own interest, and they will try to twist your words until they fit their narrative.
While it might seem difficult to accept fault for an accident accidentally, it is easier than people think. Simple statements to an insurance adjuster like “I’m sorry” can be used to argue that you are actually to blame for the accident (or that you at least think you are).
Sometimes, the best way to do that is to use their own words. This is why insurance claims adjusters may try to get you to confirm the version of events that they have. In these cases, the insurance company often constructs the narrative to fit a story where they can deny coverage, either by claiming that it falls outside their client’s insurance coverage or that you or someone else was primarily responsible for the accident.
Even by proving that you were only partially responsible, the insurance company can save money through South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence rule, which reduces the amount a plaintiff can recover by the percentage of fault they share for the accident.
Insurance adjusters are trained to jump on statements that could be construed as admitting fault. Insurance adjusters will often misconstrue your answers to make it seem like you were admitting to some blame for the accident. For example, you might casually tell an adjuster that you hit the other driver, but you specifically meant that they made an illegal lane change and merged into your car. An insurance adjuster will not make that distinction and interpret the comment as indicating fault for the accident. Our Sumter car accident lawyers can help ensure that you are prepped to speak with insurance adjusters, so your words are not used to deny you the compensation you are entitled to.
What Can I Discuss with an Insurance Adjuster in South Carolina?
Some things are appropriate to discuss with an insurance adjuster, but it is advised that you consult an attorney before doing so. For instance, it is necessary to give basic personal information like your name, address, and contact information but you are typically not required to provide more information beyond that. Before starting any conversation with an adjuster, however, you should request that the call not be recorded.
An important piece of information you will want to provide is the name of the negligent driver that hit you and identify them as the insurance company’s customer. This way, the insurance adjuster cannot claim later that another driver was identified as causing the accident. You should also list each injury you suffered to the insurance adjuster, so they have a detailed account for future settlement negotiations. Failing to mention an injury could impact how an insurance adjuster calculates your compensation.
Some injuries develop days after an accident, however. Fortunately, there is no need to speak with an insurance adjuster immediately after being injured. It is perfectly reasonable to take some time to treat your injuries and get an accurate diagnosis before starting the compensation process. This time will also allow you to speak with our South Carolina personal injury lawyers to help you develop the best strategy to report your injuries to the insurance adjuster in your case.
Should You Talk to Your South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Before the Insurance Adjuster?
To have the best possible chance of recovery without the potential pitfalls of making statements against your interest to insurance agents, it is important to reach out to a seasoned Lexington personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The only step that takes priority over contacting an attorney after an accident is getting medical treatment.
Once your injuries are assessed, diagnosed, and treated, reach out for legal help as soon as possible. If the other side’s insurance company reaches out to you before you have had the chance, we urge you to decline to speak with them until you have had the chance to discuss your situation with your attorneys. Many insurance claims adjusters will try to take advantage of claimants who they believe do not have legal representation, so you can use this opportunity to send a clear message that you are serious about your recovery.
Our South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you need to discuss your accident with an insurance adjuster, our Columbia personal injury lawyers can provide you with a free case assessment beforehand. Contact Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers at (803) 451-4000.