Please never give a recorded statement to the adverse driver’s insurance company.
The number one mistake you can make when speaking with an insurance adjuster is not telling the truth. It is better to say that you can’t remember something than to make up what happened. Collisions are traumatic and you can’t be expected to remember every detail clearly. For instance, most people don’t check their speed every five seconds, so if you don’t know exactly how fast you were going, then you don’t know how fast you were going. That is a legitimate answer.
If they really need to know, then the adjuster should walk you through questions to get to an estimate. But most of the time they choose not to.
For example instead of doing this:
“Was it faster than 5 mph?”
“Were you going faster than 10 mph?”
“Was it faster than 20 mph?”
“So you think it was between 10 mph and 20 mph?”
“Was it around 15 mph?”
“I can’t remember.”
“Okay, we’ll just say it was between 10 and 20 mph for right now, let’s move on.”
They do this:
“How fast were you going?”
“I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember your speed?”
“Well do you remember what street you were on?”
And so on and so forth. In the future the adjuster can point to this statement as say “She didn’t even know how fast she was going!” The first example is taken straight out of a deposition, but depositions are run by attorneys, and they are looking for accurate data so calculations can be done by experts. Adjusters have different goals than attorneys do. They want a recorded statement for different reasons.
After a crash, adjusters try to get recorded statements as soon as possible. This is because most attorneys don’t allow them, so they need to get it before you hire one. Also, they want to get you on record making a mistake or saying something they can disprove later. They do this because it damages your credibility. And adjusters are thinking about how to devalue, dispute, and deny your claim from minute one.
While it is important to speak to the adjuster and give them information in order for a claim to move forward, they do not need to know everything about you in order to process the claim. For instance, they NEVER need to know your social security number. That is private information and does not need to be disclosed. They may cite the Medicare Reporting Act in order to make you think you need to give it to them, but the law only states that insurance companies need to “determine” if you are a Medicare beneficiary. If you tell them your Medicare status, then they have determined the information and they are off the hook.
This is what you can tell them:
• Who you are and how to contact you.
• When it happened.
• Where it happened.
• Who was involved.
• Who witnessed it.
• How it happened.
• Whether you were injured.
That is basically all they need to know. But you also need to get information from them. When you speak with an adjuster you need ask these questions:
1. Who are you?
2. How do I contact you?
3. Who do you represent?
4. Do you work on a team or are you the one I should always speak with?
5. What is your claim number?
Speaking with an adjuster should be an exchange of information. They shouldn’t interrogate you. If you aren’t comfortable talking to them, ask them to call back, or ask for a new adjuster. They shouldn’t be rude or mean or demanding. They will pretend to be worried about you and ask about your health. It’s okay to tell them if you are going to see a doctor or not, but don’t go into too much detail about your pain or other symptoms. And if you need help, do not be afraid to hire an attorney.
If insurance companies treated people fairly, personal injury attorneys would be out of a job. We exist for a reason. We represent you and your best interests. The adjuster represents the insurance company and their shareholders’ best interest. They are not a good neighbor, you are not in good hands, be careful and look out for yourself.
Feel you have a potential personal injury case? Contact Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento California today.