If you’re injured in an accident caused by another motorist, you’re entitled to file a claim against that driver’s insurance company for your damages: medical bills, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. This does not mean you must communicate directly with that insurance company. The less direct communication you have with the at-fault driver’s insurer, the better.
It's important to remember that the insurance company is in business to earn a profit for its shareholders. It does so by collecting as much money as possible in monthly payments and paying out as little as possible in damage claims. If an insurance adjuster contacts you after your accident to ask you some “routine” questions, no matter how pleasant or concerned about your health that adjuster might seem to be, the purpose of the call is to find ways to deny or devalue your claim. Adjusters are well-trained professionals who know every trick there is to confuse you, trip you up, and get you to say things that can be used against you later, especially if you’re injured and possibly taking medication. By giving them any information, whatsoever, you provide them with tools to use against you in their attempt to deny you fair compensation.
What Not to Do or Say
Immediately after your accident, report the crash to the police and seek medical attention for yourself and any passengers in your car. You should then inform your insurer of the wreck. If it turns out that the at-fault driver is uninsured, you might have to file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim with your own company, which will then seek reimbursement from the negligent driver through a subrogation claim. You should not contact the at-fault driver’s insurer under any circumstances.
Instead, you should consult a car accident attorney, who will probably offer you a free consultation to evaluate your case and explain your options for recovering damages. If the lawyer agrees to represent you, you should refer all calls and messages from the insurer to your lawyer, who will know how to communicate on your behalf without giving the insurer any ammunition to use against you. Any time the at-fault driver’s insurer contacts you, you should follow the guidelines below:
- Do not admit any fault, complete or partial, for the accident. In Virginia, if you’re even one percent at fault for an accident caused primarily by someone else, contributory negligence laws bar you from collecting any compensation for your damages.
- Do not make a recorded statement or give your opinion about the accident. The adjuster will try to take your words out of context and use them against you to dispute or deny your claim.
- Do not disclose the names of your doctors, family members, or passengers in the car at the time of the wreck. If you do, the adjuster will contact those people and try to get differing information from them to discredit you.
- Do not accept any initial settlement offer from the insurance company. You won’t know the full extent of your medical bills until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), which could take months. If you accept a settlement too early, you cannot ask for more money if you have unforeseen complications and resulting expenses in the future. The insurer’s first offer will be a low one that it expects you to counter.
- Do not post any information about your accident or your injuries on social media. It’s best to stay off social media altogether until your claim is resolved. The insurer will be trolling the Internet to find something that can be used against you.
Once you’ve retained an attorney, refer all communication about the wreck to your lawyer. If you’re still waiting for your first legal consultation, say so and tell the insurer your attorney will be in touch soon.
Have You Been Contacted by an Insurance Adjuster After Being Hurt in an Auto Accident in Virginia?
An experienced car accident attorney can communicate on your behalf and block the insurer’s attempts to devalue your claim. Contact us online or call us at 540-341-0007 to schedule your free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.