The aftermath of an automobile accident can be scary and disorienting. Before dealing with unfriendly insurance companies who play on your weaknesses and shock, it’s best to focus on gathering evidence, composing yourself, and treating any injuries you may have. Then when you’re ready to talk to your insurance company, make sure you know what to say. Here are 9 things you should never say to your insurance company after an accident.
1. Anything...right after the accident.
After an accident, you’re most likely in shock, confused, and stressed. These conditions are not ideal for reporting an accident. Plus, if you’ve never been in an accident - or not been in one for years and protocols may have changed - then you’ll need to be ready to tackle the insurance company.
As much as we like to think insurance companies are on our side, they are businesses and want to settle for as little as possible. In fact, they have legal teams that help them do just that. It’s tough to be the figurative little guy in a room full of big, scary guys!
Once you’ve been in an accident, take care of your medical needs and then protect your legal interests. After that you can contact the insurance company and hunker down for the long, drawn-out process of back and forth claims and counter offers before settling.
Keep in mind that you DO need to contact your insurance company after an accident, but it does not have to be immediately after. Give yourself time - usually a few days - to know what to say, seek medical care, gather paperwork, sort through photo and video evidence, read your insurance policy, and contact an attorney
2. It was all my fault.
Avoid admitting any fault. Claims adjusters who investigate for insurance companies record everything you say and you may inadvertently sign away your rights if you admit fault. Usually accidents are nuanced and there’s no one person all the way at fault. Even if you’re found to be the most at fault, the other party may be found to have contributed to the accidents, so never ever admit to being at fault.
Investigators often bring up unexpected factors, and it’s okay to say “I’ll have to get back to you.”
3. I’m okay. I’m not injured.
Do not disclose any injuries to your insurance company - yet - and never admit you are okay and uninjured. Injuries may take time to manifest, and are not immediately apparent. Some injuries show up after the accidents - like a gash to the forehead, for example - but others show up later - like internal bleeding or brain injuries. Bruises indicate that you may have an injury as do neck or back pain.
Avoid signing medical release forms from the insurance company without consulting your attorney. Do not sign anything without seeking the correct legal advice. You want to be protected without signing away your rights.
4. This is my official statement.
Along the same lines of admitting fault, do not give an official, recorded statement to your (or the other party’s) insurance company unless you’ve been advised by an attorney. You do not have a legal obligation to record a statement. Anything you say may be misconstrued or taken out of contact and manipulated to serve their aims; they have experienced legal teams that aim to pick any loopholes in any evidence you give.
5. I think…
Unless you can make factual statements, say nothing. Do not speculate or offer an opinion. An opinion will not help your case, but it may hurt. Provide only the who, what, when, and where facts about the accident and nothing more. You can give the date and time of the accident; what happened - in an objective manner; any damages to your car and injuries - no unnecessary details; the information of anyone involved; and any witnesses. Any speculation of information outside of that list, can harm your case.
6. I only need (x) amount of money.
Never agree to an initial settlement from the insurance company. The insurer will try and settle as quickly as possible with a figure that is low and favorable to them. Until an attorney has reviewed your case completely, you may not know all of the ways you can claim. You may have medical bills, lost wages, emotional damages, rising bills, and any number of other expenses that you haven’t fully considered in the aftermath. Do not speculate to your insurance company about the figure you need to settle. They will never ever give you the figure you ask for, whcih is why an experienced legal team will know exactly how much to add to the settlement request in order to get the exact number you want and deserve.
7. Well, I talked to my doctor/spouse/family member...
Do not give contact information for personal contacts or references because your insurance company may try and call these people to provide information. You are not required to provide contact details for friends, family, or healthcare professionals. Stick only to the basics because if you end up in litigation, you will be asked to provide any information you may have told these individuals, and with the whirlwind of accidents and clouds of confusion you may not remember, which can lead to tricky situations in the courtroom. Plus, in an effort to help, family members or doctors may provide the wrong information that may or may not contradict what others can say. Any extra opinions and potential discrepancies may allow the insurance company’s legal teams to poke holes in an otherwise solid case.
8. I just want this over and done with as quickly as possible.
When you are going through stressful times, it’s natural to want things over and done with, but do not admit anything to your insurance company. Usually settlements take weeks, months, and sometimes even years. These processes can often be simplified and hastened by using a trusted attorney; however, if the insurance company knows you’re impatient to settle, they’ll use that opportunity to pressure you into settling for a figure that’s less than you deserve. Allow your attorney to deal with timelines and help you through the process.
9. I don’t have a lawyer.
Insurance companies are delighted if you admit you do not have a lawyer, which is exactly why you should have one. Whilst you have to tell the truth when representing your case to your insurance company, you do not have to divulge everything, especially information that will negatively affect your claim. A personal injury attorney will offer advice regarding what you should say and how you can deal with your insurance company for the best outcome.
How Coxwell & Associates, PLLC. Can Help
With all of these “do nots” it may be difficult to know what to say, but that’s where a trusted personal injury attorney comes in. You do not get into a car accident every day - even every year - so if you don’t know what to say, that’s understandable, but you don’t have to suffer because of inexperience. We have over 36 years of experience winning personal injury cases, and we know just what to say to insurance companies trying to get you to settle for less than you deserve. We will help you know what to say when and make the process as stress-free for you as it can be. Let us help you. Contact us today for a free case consultation.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.