Being injured in a car accident is not something we ever anticipate when we wake up in the morning or head out during the day. We are usually just focused on getting the kids to school, getting to work on time, or going out for an enjoyable evening with family and friends. This is why most people don’t know exactly how to deal with insurance adjusters after a car crash.
If you are seriously injured in an accident you will most likely be dealing with your personal injuries, damage to your car and medical bills and appointments. These are things we can usually expect. But, one thing most of us don’t expect or know is how to deal with insurance adjusters after an accident. Below are some important factors to consider if you are receiving calls or letters from insurance adjusters after crash in Massachusetts.
Summary of the Auto Insurance Companies Involved After a Car Crash in Massachusetts
As mentioned above, undoubtedly, after a car accident you will be receiving calls and letters from insurance companies. The question is: Should I talk to them? and, if so, Which one do I talk to?
With most car accidents in Massachusetts, there are generally two insurance companies involved in a two-car accident. There is your auto insurance company and the other driver’s auto insurance company. One thing is for sure, you will be contacted by them both. So, should you talk to them? Let’s take a look at the difference between the two:
Your Auto Insurance Company
Your car insurance company is there to help you. After being injured in a car crash, you should report the accident to your auto insurance company as soon as you can. Your car insurance offers certain benefits and insurance coverage that you will need to cover medical bills, lost wages and damage to your car.
For example, your insurance coverage carries personal injury protection (PIP) benefits that will cover up to $8,000 in benefits for medical bills (or $2,000 in medical bills if you have private health insurance) and 75 percent of lost wages. Because of this, you should cooperate with your auto insurance company.
The Other Driver’s Auto Insurance Company
Very soon after a car accident, the other car’s insurance company will be calling you to talk about the accident. They often appear to be very nice and concerned about you. In reality, though, they are not looking out for your best interests. The other driver’s insurance adjusters are looking out for the interests of their insurance company. This means they are looking to save their insurance company money. How do they do this? They try to obtain information from you to settle or pay you less money than what you actually deserve for your injuries.
The other driver’s insurance adjuster will need to determine who was responsible for the accident. Remember, if their driver was negligent and caused the accident and your injuries, they will be responsible to pay for your damages. So, when they try to call you soon after the accident, they are attempting to gather information that they can later use against you to minimize your injuries or how much they may need to pay.
For example, the insurance adjuster may want to get your version of how the accident happened. When doing this, they hope to get you to say something they can later use to argue that you were comparatively negligent and contributed to the accident. If they are successful in getting you to say something that they can use to blame you for the crash or for contributing to the accident, they may deny your claim entirely or try to reduce the amount of money they may need to pay you.
For these reasons, it’s never a good idea to speak with an adjuster from the other driver’s auto insurance company or give a statement soon after the accident.
In Some Accidents the Auto Insurance Company May Be the Same for Both Cars
Knowing which insurance company to speak with can be confusing when both vehicles are insured by the same auto insurance company. For instance, I recently met with a young mother who was seriously injured in a head-on collision in Framingham, Massachusetts. This woman and the other driver had the same insurance company. So, when she was receiving calls and letters from the insurance company, she wasn’t sure which one she should talk to.
If you find yourself in this situation, you should determine if the insurance company calling or writing is for you or for the other driver. Generally, your insurance company would be the PIP carrier and the other driver’s insurer would be the bodily injury carrier.
Luckily, this woman made the right decision and didn’t speak with either until she first consulted with a personal injury attorney. Therefore, if you are in an accident and both insurance companies are the same and you are not sure which one to talk to, you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer first.
Here Are a Few Tips to Follow When Dealing With the Other Driver’s Auto Insurance Adjusters
Before speaking with the other driver’s auto insurance adjuster, you should be aware of some important guidelines to follow. Below are a few tips, which can be the difference between getting a settlement you deserve or nothing at all:
- Do Not Agree To A Recorded Statement: If you do speak with the other driver’s insurance company, you should never agree to have the conversation recorded. Sometimes, the insurance adjuster may make it sound like you must provide them with a recorded statement or that they need to record it. However, there is no legal obligation for you to provide them a recorded statement. A clever insurance adjuster or insurance attorney will try to use your recorded statement against you later in your injury claim. For example, if you agree to a recorded statement and tell them that you are “okay”, they will most certainly try to use that against you in the future.
- Do Not Discuss Your Injuries: The other driver’s insurance adjuster will most likely want to know the details of your injuries. You should not discuss your injuries or treatment with them. If you do and you leave out important information or details, they will try to use that against you later. Or, if you later discover that your injuries are more serious, the insurance company may argue that you never complained of those injuries before when you spoke to them. They will try to use this to reduce any amount they may be required to pay.
- Only Provide Limited Information: Even if you refuse to submit to a recorded statement, the insurance adjuster will still want to get information about how the accident happened and about your injuries. If you do speak with them, you should only provide them with very basic information. For example, you can give them your name and address. You can also tell them where the accident happened, who else was either in your vehicle or involved in the accident and whether the police were called to the scene. If they push for more details about how the crash happened or your injures, simply tell them that you prefer to provide that information at a later date. In the meantime, you should speak with a car accident lawyer before providing the insurance company with other details.
- Never Settle Your Claim Early: In some cases, the other driver is clearly at fault for causing the accident and your injuries. In these circumstances, the other driver’s insurance company may try to settle your case early on. Don’t be tempted by the offer of settlement money at that stage. They often offer a settlement early in the claim because they know that your claim may be worth much more in the future or if you hire an injury attorney. Instead, explain to them that you are not comfortable discussing a settlement so early after your accident. Then you should consult with an experienced lawyer who can properly advise you about the value of your personal injury claim.
Of course, there are many other things to consider before ever deciding to speak with the other drivers’ auto insurance company. The above tips are only a few things to think about. It is always highly recommended to consult with an experienced injury lawyer first.