Insurance companies often work quickly in the hours after a car accident to contact you and get a statement. Although this tactic frequently pays off for your insurer, it may be at your expense. The experienced car accident legal team at Parrish Law Firm, PLLC understands what the insurance company is trying to get out of you in that initial statement. That’s because auto accident attorney James R. Parrish started his legal career by representing insurance companies before deciding to change course and represent the people who were injured in accidents instead.
Our firm encourages clients to stay calm and polite whenever you talk to the insurance company. But keep in mind that “polite” does not mean “answering every question” or “handing over all your information.” Here’s how to talk to your insurance company while working to protect your right to full and fair compensation at the same time.
Need help dealing with an insurance company to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries? Don’t hesitate to contact Parrish Law Firm, PLLC for experienced assistance. Schedule your free consultation now with a Manassas car accident lawyer.
What Should I Say in My Statement?
Often, an insurance adjuster will contact you at the scene of the accident or as soon as possible when you get home. This person may represent your own insurance company or the insurer of someone else who was involved in the accident. Keep these tips in mind:
- Consider postponing the conversation. You have the right to have an attorney present when you talk to an insurance company. For this reason, you also have the right to say “I will not talk to you without consulting my lawyer first.” The adjuster may attempt to pressure you into giving a statement, but you do not have to give in to this pressure.
- Know who you’re talking to. Get the name, address, and telephone number of the person on the phone; the name of the insurer they work for; and the person or business they represent. If they cannot or will not provide this information when you ask, don’t speak to them.
- Limit your own information. Confirm your name, address, and telephone number with the insurance adjuster. You may also tell them where you are employed and what type of work you do. But keep the conversation short. You do not need to explain or discuss your work, your schedule, or your income at this point.
- Stick to the “four W’s.” Journalists start news reports by focusing on the “four W’s” — who, what, when, where. If the insurance adjuster or representative tries to get you to talk about the accident, stick to these facts: when and where it happened, that it was a car accident, and who was involved or witnessed the crash. If pressed, say that you are still investigating and you will discuss the facts “at the appropriate time.”
- Leave your injuries out of it. Chances are good that the insurance adjuster will want to know how you are feeling or how you were injured. Don’t give a description yet. Some car accident injuries take hours or days to become fully apparent. Until you can give a full picture of the harm, simply say, “We don’t know the full extent yet.”
- Don’t guess or lie. If you don’t know the answer to any question or can’t remember, say so. “I don’t know,” “I didn’t see it,” or “I can’t remember” are all appropriate answers if they are true. If you guess, you run the risk of being wrong, which may be used against you in your claim for compensation.
- Take notes. During the call, or as soon as the call ends, write down what happened. What did the adjuster ask? What did you say? These notes can help your attorney protect your rights.
- Talk to an experienced car insurance lawyer. Your attorney can help you deal with future contact from insurers by fielding calls and demands for information, and by helping you know what to say in any contact with an insurance company. Your lawyer can also help protect your rights. Insurance companies have experienced lawyers on their side – you deserve the same experience on yours.
Recorded Statements: What to Watch Out For
Be ready. Many car accident claims adjusters will ask or demand that you allow them to record your statement. They may claim that it will protect you later or help them resolve your claim more quickly. Don’t believe them.
A recorded statement can work against you in several ways:
- It might not be complete or accurate. In the hours or days after an accident, your brain is still scrambling to sort through memories of a traumatic event and help your body return to normal functioning. Lapses in memory or inaccurate memories are very common. They are normal, and they are not your fault – but if they end up in a recorded statement, they can hurt your car accident compensation claim.
- It may contradict evidence you discover later. For example, you may say in your recorded statement that you feel fine – only to wake up the next morning with severe pain from whiplash injuries that hadn’t fully manifested when you talked to the insurance company. Or you may indicate that the accident was your fault, only to discover that a defective part in your car’s brakes prevented you from avoiding the crash. If you give a recorded statement, it can be much harder to use this new evidence in your favor.
- You might get “led” to say things you don’t mean or that aren’t true. Insurance adjusters know how to use “leading” questions or comments to make it sound as if the accident was your fault or you weren’t as badly injured as you are. These remarks can often sound like friendly comments about your story, like “It sounds like you were going pretty fast around that corner, doesn’t it?” or “I’m glad your back injury wasn’t as bad as you thought.” But they are designed to get you to downplay what happened and undermine your own compensation claim.
- You may be “stuck” with what you said in the recording. Recordings tend to take on far more importance in a car accident claim than they deserve. Correcting or expanding on what you said in the recording can become difficult or impossible. Agreeing to be recorded sets up an unnecessary hurdle in your case.
Choose a Car Insurance Lawyer Who Takes Your Case Personally
Auto accident attorney Jim Parrish knows the tricks insurance companies use to reduce their responsibility to pay full and fair compensation to injured people. As a former lawyer for insurance companies, he saw people suffer life-changing injuries – and have to fight for every penny of compensation they received in the face of catastrophic harm.
Today, Jim Parrish and the team at Parrish Law Firm, PLLC fight on behalf of injured people and their families throughout Manassas, Fairfax, Warrenton, and across Northern Virginia. Having seen how hard insurance companies fight to avoid paying compensation, Jim Parrish believes that every injured person should have the same dedication and experience on their side. To learn more, contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation.