Car accident insurance settlement depends highly on the spoken word especially what is said and not said at the accident scene. Some unsolicited statements can end up costing you thousands of dollars in settlement money, when it comes to car accidents the best negotiating advice is less is more. Let’s talk a little bit about what to do at the accident scene. Car accidents are traumatic events and in these stressful situations people often say stupid things, they admit fault, threaten to file lawsuits, verbally abuse the other driver and worse. If you’ve been in an accident stay calm and measure every word. What you say at the accident scene will become a part of your insurance claim. Along these lines it’s important to avoid admissions against interest. Our unsolicited statements made by a claimant which state he really wasn’t hurt in the accident.
Or that, here’s some common admissions people make at accident scenes.
- “I’m sorry I didn’t see you, I was texting.”
- “I was on the phone, I was talking with my passenger.”
- “My tires are worn, I’ve been meaning to have them replaced.”
- “I just looked down for a second to change the radio station.”
- “I’m okay or I don’t need paramedics.”
Refrain from making admissions like these after an accident then you won’t have to explain your way out of them. When it goes with a claims adjuster, let the other driver do the talking and make sure you write down any admissions the driver makes. Here’s some advice for speaking with the adjuster if you’ve decided to represent yourself in your accident claim. Be prepared for a tough settlement process. Claims adjusters are trained to do everything possible to minimize payouts. The insurance company’s official motto is “pay as little as possible” your claim can be compromised with just a few words of introduction.
With the adjuster let’s take this common exchange for example the adjuster says…
“Good morning Mr. Smith, how are you today?”
You say “fine, thanks” and you you’ve just made your first admission against your own interest by telling your adjuster you were fine. Therefore, you must measure every word. Let the adjuster work her or his side of the claim. You’ll have enough work to do with your own adjuster. Let’s quickly cover 13 mistakes to avoid in settlement negotiations. In addition to refraining from admissions at the scene there are other important rules to follow when beginning settlement negotiations. Violating these rules can result in irreversible damage to your claim, once you commit yourself to a fact or any small detail. You will be bound by that commitment, you can always add facts and information down the line. In insurance claims saying too little can be a virtue so follow these tips when negotiating.
Don’t be too friendly with the adjuster be polite but not differential you must go into settlement negotiations with a firm hand believing your side of the claim is the truth you don’t want the adjuster to handle you.
1) Do set a strict business tone on your first contact and suppress your instinct to be friendly.
2) Don’t agree to give you’re a recorded statement unless you have an attorney present to advise you it’s not a good idea to give a recorded statement once you do your claim will be confined to the parameters of that statement the only one who can benefit is the insurance company.
3) Don’t be seduced by the adjuster, adjusters are trained to engage claimants in informal discussions they try to get you to relax so you let your guard down. Being too relaxed makes it much easier for the adjuster to draw admissions from you. Be on your guard always.
4) Don’t editorialize or offer opinions that may come later, but for now just discuss the basic facts. Limit what you say to the location date and time of the collision. Your name, address, phone number, email and the location of your car.
5) Don’t lie. Avoiding mistruths is always good negotiating advice. Lying serves no purpose, if the adjuster catches you in a lie no matter how small you’ll lose all credibility. From that point on anything you say will be suspect.
6) Don’t sign any medical releases yet. Once you’re nearing the end of your treatment then you can sign releases to secure copies of your medical records. The adjuster doesn’t need that information at the start save your doctor’s office the hassle of dealing with the adjuster until your treatment is almost finished.
7) Don’t give the adjuster your social security number having your social security number allows the adjuster to access a lot of personal information although technically prohibited the adjuster can check your credit history or access other information she might be able to use as leverage
8) Don’t discuss any preexisting injuries you can really set back your claim by admitting you have a prior injury before getting your doctor’s narrative if you tell the adjuster about it she’ll say your latest injury is just an exacerbation of your earlier one you need a doctor to evaluate how one injury is related to the other
9) Don’t say I have whiplash. The term whiplash is a red flag for claims adjustors although whiplash can be very painful don’t mention it before you’ve been diagnosed by a physician adjuster. Sometimes even dispute medically diagnosed whiplash so claiming it without medical proof will all but ensure opposition.
10) Don’t exaggerate. Claims adjusters hear all kinds of stories and they can usually tell when someone is padding the truth. If you exaggerate at all you’ll have to remember it each time you speak with the adjuster that’s not only inappropriate it’s hard work. Tell the straight truth it will speak for itself.
11) Don’t give the adjuster names of family friends or work references. The adjuster doesn’t need that information to settle a personal injury claim. You don’t want her hassling your friends or family or speaking with someone who might imply you’re dishonest. Of course, contact information for witnesses is fair game.
12) Don’t take for granted your claim will settle. Always keep in mind the possibility your case will proceed to trial. What you say now may have to be repeated on a witness stand in front of a jury. Prepare your claim as if you may ultimately have to file a lawsuit.
13) Don’t think you must have the answer to every question. If you don’t know the answer to a question admit you don’t know or can’t remember. You can always get the information later. It’s much better to say you can’t recall an important detail than to give the wrong information. Remember always negotiate from a position of strength.
With that we conclude this discussion on mistakes to avoid when negotiating your car accident settlement.