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Teenage Driver Making Phone Call After Traffic Accident

Being injured in a car crash can be overwhelming, and the full extent of your injuries and property damage may not be known for days or weeks following the accident. However, insurance companies need to be informed of accidents quickly. This can create a sticky situation where emotions are high and facts are still being uncovered. Every word you say to insurance matters and could affect your future claim.

Insurance adjusters investigate accident claims to determine how much should be paid, if any. When a claims adjuster calls it may seem like they care, but their focus and goal is to see who is at-fault, and try to pay as little as possible. Everything they ask has a purpose, and your answers may be used against you to decrease the value of your insurance settlement.

Whether you’re in a car accident in Virginia, or a loved one dies in an accident, knowing how to deal with an insurer is crucial. As personal injury attorneys, we can help. We know the strategies insurance companies use to get out of paying the full value of a claim. We’ve put together a list of things NOT to say to a claims adjuster.

1. IF YOU ARE INJURED, CONSULT AN ATTORNEY FIRST.

If you are involved in a car crash, especially one resulting in injuries or a fatality, consult a car accident attorney before making any statement. Car insurance companies will call to immediately get a statement, but you have a right to consult an attorney before speaking with anyone. This is a right that should absolutely be utilized. This time also allows for emotions to settle and for you to gather your thoughts.

2. DO NOT ADMIT FAULT OR APOLOGIZE.

It is extremely important not to admit fault in an accident in Virginia if you did not cause the crash. Virginia’s harsh contributory negligence law means that even if you’re just 1% at-fault for the accident, you are not entitled to recover anything. If you admit fault in any way, it will give insurance companies a valid reason to deny your personal injury claim.

3. DO NOT DISCUSS YOUR INJURIES.

When you are injured in an accident, especially a car accident, it can take days or weeks for the extent of your injuries to be known. How they’ll affect your ability to work, whether you’ll need rehabilitation or surgery, and other factors are important. Yet claims adjusters will ask about your injuries as soon as they can so that you do not have time to truly evaluate the impact of what has happened.

Do not downplay how you feel or how bad your injuries are. This will lower how the insurance carrier will value your case, whereas medical reports and bills can provide evidence of how you are injured. Saying “My back is just a bit stiff” can downplay your injury, when the fact is, you may require several months off work for rehabilitation and treatments. Your best option is to discuss your case with a Virginia personal injury attorney before giving details about your injuries to an insurance claims adjuster.

4. DO NOT SPECULATE ABOUT THE ACCIDENT.

Any information you share about the accident with an insurance adjuster could lower what they pay. Do not speculate about the accident to either your own or the other party’s insurance company. Just stick to the facts and steer clear of adding any commentary or opinions. If you are unsure about something they ask, do not comment because if something you say later contradicts what was said to the claims adjuster, they are likely to dispute your claim. Speculation simply gives them openings they can use to dispute your claim.

5. DON’T ALLOW YOUR CONVERSATION TO BE RECORDED.

It is common for claims adjusters to ask injury victims for a recorded statement. Do not agree to this, regardless of what they say they need it for or if they act as if it’s standard procedure. When a statement is recorded, the insurance company will use it to their advantage, not yours. They may try to get you to admit fault and speculate about your injuries and what happened. You also have the right to have your attorney present when you provide a recorded statement, if you choose to make one.

6. DO NOT CONSIDER A SETTLEMENT UNTIL YOU HAVE FINISHED TREATMENT AND CONSULTED WITH AN ATTORNEY.

It is in the insurance company’s best interest to get you to accept their first offer. Why? It allows them to wrap up your claim quickly with a typically very low initial offer. Claims adjusters know the average person will not be able to immediately figure out how much their injuries, losses, and/or property damage will cost. Do not verbally agree to a settlement or sign anything without first consulting a lawyer because you won’t be able to seek higher compensation after a settlement is finalized.

The True Value of Your Claim

Insurance claims adjusters rely on the fact that you may be stressed about the cost of everything and are overwhelmed. This is especially true for serious injuries and fatalities. There are going to be costs and losses you do not consider in the days following an accident. A car accident attorney has the skills to determine the true value of your claim and knows how to strengthen your case. We typically see adjusters offer a small amount to settle a case, with a second maximum amount offered to help cover medical bills when incurred. These offers are typically far below what the true value of a car accident case is worth.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident that involves insurance, contact Curcio Law online or call/text us at 703-836-3366.  Our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys in Alexandria, Virginia will gather the evidence needed to get what you are entitled to and handle communication with claims adjusters so you can focus on recovering.

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