Dealing With The At-Fault Driver's Insurer After An Accident

As you consider hiring an auto accident attorney to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault driver's insurer, that insurer may be contacting you and putting on some pressure. The insurance carrier may encourage you to answer questions during an interview, make a recorded statement or accept a settlement you're not satisfied with. It's best to keep your communication with this insurance company to a minimum. Avoid making certain actions and making certain types of comments when dealing with the company.

Don't Admit Guilt

Most states use comparative negligence to determine what percentage of fault each driver was responsible for in the accident. For instance, you may have been traveling a bit higher than the speed limit when the other driver blew through a stop sign and struck your car. If law enforcement has determined that the other driver was at fault, you don't want to give the insurance company any reasons to think you were partially to blame.

Talking with insurance company representatives can be a minefield, because they will attempt to build rapport with you. You may find yourself mentioning being fatigued the day of the accident, that your tires needed replacing, or that your phone rang just before the other driver struck your car. The insurance company can use any of those factors to claim you were partially at fault.

Don't Apologize

Apologizing for anything involved with the accident could be construed as an admission of guilt. Even a simple comment such as, "I'm sorry this happened" might provide a reason for the insurer to question your supposed blamelessness in the matter. 

Don't Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurer

The representative may urge you to make a recorded statement. He or she might suggest doing so could increase your settlement offer and streamline the process. Remember that the insurance company's intention is not to help you, but to keep its costs low. 

Anything you say on a recorded statement can be used against you. The insurance carrier may take things you've said out of context in an effort to show you were partially at fault or that your injuries are not serious. Don't make a statement unless your lawyer is there as well. 

Don't Get Friendly With the Representative

Even the simplest of questions can turn out to be a trick. If the insurance company representative starts out with a friendly, "Hello, how are you today?" don't answer. If you respond that you're OK, fine, good or something similar, you've provided a positive statement the company may use against you.

Don't Talk to Casual Acquaintances About Personal Matters

Insurance companies may have private investigators follow claimants to determine whether they are faking the seriousness of their injuries and to learn the extent of their financial problems. Insurance companies also use tactics such as contacting a claimant's co-workers, friends and relatives.

You may be able to trust your closest friends and family members not to discuss your private information, but that's not the case with anyone else. If you strike up a conversation about the accident with a co-worker -- or worse, a stranger -- at the local watering hole, you're asking for trouble. 

Don't Give Out Personal Information

The insurance company may say it needs your Social Security number or your medical records. With your private identification, the company can access some financial information you may not want them to know. In regard to medical records, it's best to wait until your treatment is complete before you provide this information. 

Concluding Thoughts

The at-fault driver's insurance carrier wants to pay as low a settlement as possible. Having skilled legal representation can make a big difference in the compensation you eventually are paid. Strongly consider hiring a car accident lawyer and letting this professional handle the communication with the insurer from now on. Then, if an insurance company representative does contact you, you can state firmly that he or she should call your attorney.

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