You have just been involved in a car accident, and the other driver involved in the crash is to blame. With help from your Ohio car accident attorney, you can file a claim with that driver’s insurance company to seek compensation for your property damage and medical expenses.
The next person you are likely to meet with is the insurance company’s adjuster, and this meeting can significantly impact the direction of your claim.
When you deal with the insurance adjuster, remember this fact: You are never their top priority — the insurance company’s bottom line is. The insurance adjuster will look for ways to pay as little as possible on your claim so as to maximize their company’s profits.
An insurance adjuster is an investigator employed by an insurance company. They are tasked with making sure the insurance company pays no more on a claim than necessary. Once your claim is received, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to look into your claim and decide how much the company should pay to resolve it.
To accomplish this task, the adjuster might ask to speak with you about the accident to obtain a statement. The adjuster will also want to inspect your vehicle and observe the damage upon which your claim is based. Finally, the adjuster may ask to review your medical records, especially if you claim the injuries are severe.
In taking these steps, adjusters are not so much looking to fully understand your claim as they are looking for reasons they can reduce the amount they should have to pay to you. These reasons might include:
- You make inconsistent statements about the details of the crash
- You initially claim that you feel okay but later say you were seriously hurt in the crash
- Your statements to the adjuster or law enforcement do not match the evidence
- Some of your injuries may be due to preexisting conditions
After their investigation, negotiations will ensue if the adjuster believes the claim can be settled.
As Slater & Zurz personal injury lawyer John J. Lynett Jr. explains, the next steps: “After the client’s medical care is complete, if their claim can be resolved through negotiation with an insurance adjuster, the client receives compensation, signs a release, and the process is over.”
Sometimes, the claim does not stop there. As Mr. Lynett explains, “If their claim cannot be resolved by negotiation or the insurance company denies it, they’re in a situation where a lawsuit would be necessary.”
If you file an insurance claim, you will have to deal with an adjuster. While these interactions may be intimidating, there is a way to handle such encounters without losing your cool. Keep the following tips in mind as you work with an insurance adjuster in your case:
Many crash injury victims will wait until their insurance claim is denied or until the adjuster proposes a low settlement before seeking legal counsel.
However, hiring an Ohio car accident attorney early in your case can be of great benefit. Your attorney will act as a buffer between you and the adjuster. They can often successfully address an adjuster’s concerns without compromising your claim.
You should expect that the adjuster will ask to speak with you about the crash. In most cases, the adjuster will want you to give a recorded statement describing what details you recall concerning the crash.
If this recorded statement differs in any substantial way from other statements or from the available evidence, the adjuster may use that discrepancy as a reason to reduce or deny your claim.
Avoid giving recorded statements to the adjuster wherever possible, especially if you have not yet spoken to a personal injury lawyer. You should never admit responsibility for the crash, and you should avoid statements suggesting you were negligent.
When you have an attorney representing you, your lawyer can help prepare you for giving a statement to the adjuster so that you do not inadvertently harm your claim by misspeaking.
If you suffer injuries requiring medical treatment, the adjuster may approach you and ask you to sign a medical release form. Do not sign this form even if the adjuster claims it will help them process your insurance claim more quickly. Talk with our Cleveland car accident attorney about how to respond to this request first before signing.
In many cases, these release forms allow the adjuster access not just to your medical records relating to your car crash injuries but also to all of your medical records, whether they pertain to the crash or not.
The adjuster then has the ability to scour your medical history and look for evidence of preexisting conditions. They could then argue that the car accident inflicted little harm on you but that most of your pain is due instead to the preexisting condition.
Be wary if the adjuster offers a settlement offer quickly or pressures you into accepting a settlement. This usually indicates that the insurance company knows it is liable and wants to pay as little as possible for your claim. By pressuring you or enticing you with an offer of quick compensation, the adjuster hopes to minimize the company’s losses.
If you have been hurt in a car accident, the Ohio personal injury law firm Slater & Zurz is here to help. With our decades of combined experience, we are more than equal to the task of handling insurance adjusters and helping you pursue fair and just compensation.
We will offer guidance as you file an insurance claim or, if that is not successful, initiate legal proceedings. Call or contact our office today to get started.