If you were injured in a car crash in Massachusetts, the other driver’s auto insurance company will most certainly attempt to contact you soon after the accident to talk about the accident and your injuries. You may be wondering if you should speak with them. From our perspective as personal injury experts, the answer is no. You should, however, understand why this is usually the answer from most legal injury experts.
You Are Not Required to Speak with the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
While you may have legal and contractual obligations to speak with certain parties after being injured in a car accident, you are under no legal obligation to speak with or provide information to the other driver’s car insurance company. After a crash, you may need to speak with the other driver and exchange insurance information. You may also need to talk with the responding police officers or complete a Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crash Report. Similarly, you have an obligation to cooperate with your own car insurance company. However, you are under no legal duty to speak with the other driver’s car insurance company.
Here's Why You Shouldn’t Speak with the Other Insurance Company
To understand why you should not speak with the other driver’s auto insurance company after being hurt in a car crash, you must understand what the insurance industry is all about. Car insurance is a business and businesses are run for a reason – profits. Profits are the net revenue or financial gain of a business after deducting the expenses from the gross sales or revenue. Car insurers are all about making money and trying to keep as much of that money as possible. A successful way of keeping your profits up is to reduce expenses. How do car insurance companies reduce their expenses? They do what is necessary to pay nothing or the least amount possible on injury claims. This is one reason they want to speak with you after a car accident.
Soon after being hurt in a car accident, the injury adjusters from the other driver’s car insurance company will try to contact you. While they will seem nice and sympathetic to your injuries and situation, they have an ulterior motive. Their motive is to elicit some facts or evidence from you that they can use to either deny your claim or reduce any amount they may have to pay you.
They May Blame You for Causing or Contributing to the Crash
These adjusters are trained in taking statements from accident victims. They do not care how badly you were injured in the crash. They do not care about the expensive bills for your medical treatment or the lost wages you may incur if you cannot return to work. Their focus is getting you to say something they can use against you. If you speak with them or give them a statement, they can take it out of context and try to place some blame on you for either causing the accident yourself or, at least, contributing to the accident and your own injuries. Then, they can either deny your claim entirely and pay you nothing or, under the Massachusetts laws of comparative negligence, they will try to reduce the amount of compensation you may deserve.
They Want Evidence to Minimize your Injuries
Even if you believe the evidence is clear that the other driver was at-fault for causing the car crash, you still shouldn’t speak with the other driver’s car insurance company. For example, if you were stopped at a red light or a stop sign and the other driver crashed into the rear of your car, there may be no question the other driver was at fault. Regardless, you still should not speak with them.
If the insurance company knows that they cannot blame you for either causing or contributing to the crash, they will still want to talk with you. Why? They want to speak with you about your injuries. What they are trying to do is to obtain evidence that your injuries are minor or could have been caused by some other incident or event.
Remember that sometimes injuries from a car accident don't show up right away. What can seem like minor injuries soon after an accident may turn out to be much more serious than initially expected. For example, we represented an individual from Marlboro, Massachusetts who was rear-ended by another driver. After his accident, he experienced neck pain and wasn’t sure how bad it was. Initially, his doctors suspected a neck strain or whiplash. However, after months of failed conservative treatment, he had a cervical spine MRI, which revealed a severely herniated disc in his neck. He required a cervical spine surgery (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion). Had this gentleman talked to the other driver’s insurance company shortly after the crash and claimed to have some pain in his neck or whiplash, they would have documented his injury as minor. This could have made it much more difficult to obtain the financial compensation he deserved.
Additionally, what may seem like an injury to one body part might be an injury to another part of your body. If you speak with the other driver’s auto insurance company soon after a crash and are not aware of the full extent of your injuries, you may not understand or know every part of your body that was injured in the crash. For example, one of our clients was injured in a rear-end collision on the Massachusetts Turnpike (MassPike) near the Natick and Framingham exits. Since there was no issue with liability as it was a rear-end accident, our client spoke with the other driver’s insurance adjuster. He initially had pain in his neck, so he told them he injured his neck. They pressed him for another body parts that were injured, but all he knew at that point was that his neck was injured. Later, however, he discovered that he also injured his shoulder. Since the neck and shoulders are so close and closely related, it is not uncommon to be unaware of an injury to the shoulder when there is neck pain.
In that case, the adjuster was unwilling to accept the shoulder injury as part of the bodily injury claim. The downside of this was that the insurance company would not offer compensation for the medical bills related to the shoulder treatment. They argued that our client only said he hurt his neck after the crash. We filed a personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts on this case and were able to recover full compensation for our client’s injuries, his shoulder included.
It's Best to Consult with an Experienced Massachusetts Accident Lawyer First
If the other driver’s insurance company is calling you after you were hurt in a car crash, you should speak with an experienced Massachusetts injury attorney first. An injury lawyer who specializes in representing Massachusetts car accident victims can answer any questions you have. More importantly, an experienced accident attorney can guide you through the process, protect your rights, and help you avoid many of the insurance tactics and pitfalls.
When you hire a personal injury attorney for a Massachusetts accident case, the lawyer will provide a written letter of representation to the other driver’s insurance company. Once the insurance company receives this letter and notice that you are represented by counsel, they cannot contact you any longer. They will need to get any information they want from your lawyer. An experienced attorney will know what information to provide the injury adjuster so that it does not hurt your claim.