When a car accident occurs, the driver and other occupants in the vehicle may sustain injuries. Additionally, the car(s) and the properties ferried in the cars get damaged. After the police respond to the accident and the safety of all casualties is ensured, the compensation begins. The insurance companies covering all those persons involved begins the process of compensating them.
Maneuvering through an insurance claim is shaky, and getting the right compensation is uncertain. The insurer tries minimizing the application amount to the disadvantage of the policyholder who needs payment to their original financial level. The Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney walks with you through these legally difficult negotiations to win for you the right settlement amount for your injuries. We aggressively represent personal injury clients in Jacksonville and have won compensation countless times.
Who are the Adjusters?
The adjusters are official representatives of the insurance company in the insurance claims. There are two types of adjusters:
- Those representing your company and
- Those from other parties’ auto insurance companies
The insurance claims adjusters work to advance the interests of their companies. You need wits to navigate their tricky language. Your severity of injuries is not their concern. Hence they seek to use any carelessly spoken word to your disadvantage. They are hired by the company to settle claims using the minimum liability possible. To that effect, they earn perks for pinning you down to accept little amounts for compensation. You ought to be careful when negotiating with the adjuster.
You should never to do the following to an adjuster:
1. Admit You Caused the Accident
Most times, the insurance adjusters will contact you after the accident to try interrogating you. The probing happens before you finish receiving medical care. The determination of party at-fault is yet since the department of motor hearing delays for days. So at this stage, it is not clear who was at fault in the car accident.
During this initial conversation, never admit being at-fault for the accident or speak apologetically for what happened during the accident. The main business of the adjuster is absolving the auto insurance company from your claims, not responding to your need for compensation. A word that implicates the blame for the accident on you leads to loss of indemnification.
It is always wise to wait for the official hearing of the case and investigation to prove the guilty party. The determination of the at-faulty could set you free from a seeming responsibility to compensate if a variable you are not aware of caused the accident. The best thing when the adjuster calls you is to politely decline to talk until you are sure of what to say.
2. Give Guesses On What Happened During the Accident
Accidents happened in varying circumstances. After the car crash occurred, you may have run into a coma only to wake up after resuscitation in the hospital. Additionally, other people may be too injured to get wind of what happened in the accident. Some people lose memory after the accident and may not understand the exact details of what transpired in the accident. In all these cases giving the precise account of what happened is difficult.
Do not give a guess on:
- On what happened before between you and the other driver leading to the accident
- On who is to blame for the accident, either you, the other driver or another variable outside drivers’ control
Any speculative statement you give may be used against you to deny you full compensation for changing the evidence. You have two options here:
- Responding succinctly to the questions of the adjuster without adding any extra information but only giving the accurate details
- Keeping quiet on anything you are not sure of or declining to reply to anything
3. Divulge Information About Your Injuries and Damages
The insurance adjusters contact too early before you even recuperate from injuries. They may seek to get information about the cost of healthcare before you get discharged. The best option is to wait until the immediate wounds and fractures heal, and the doctor gives a reasonable estimate of the amount you may need for medical care afterward. Do not utter anything before the full diagnosis lest you undervalue the injuries since they may appear minor than they are.
Likewise, you should never estimate the amount of what your car may cost to repair before the mechanic gives the approximate costs. Alternatively, wait until the insurance company accesses the vehicle from the police station and takes it to the mechanic. Here they will get the details from the mechanic on whether to buy you a car or repair the wrecked one.
Disclosing anything to the adjuster should await until you consult your personal injury lawyer and write a demand letter to the insurance company. Phone conversation with the adjuster may happen when adrenaline is in control, you may speak words that you desire recanting later. Giving such sensitive information requires you to have stable health and proper chronology of events such as after debriefing with your psychological therapist.
4. Record a Statement With the Adjuster
You are not legally obliged to give a written statement to the insurance adjuster. They usually ask for it, hoping that you will comply. The best choice is declining this baited request politely. These adjusters seek to trick you into messing up with your testimony and therefore discard everything you have spoken as incredible for lack of consistency. Recording may lead to signing binding agreements unknowingly that deny you indemnification for your injuries and property losses.
5. Accept the First Offer Blindly
The company pays the adjuster, as mentioned above, to negotiate the least settlement value on behalf of the company. Saying yes and appending your signature to agree to the initial offer is the worst mistake you can ever do against your welfare. The amount is always less than you deserve, and by any means, you should not allow the insurer pin you down for an entitled compensation while you have paid premiums promptly, and further, the policy was in force at the time of the accident. The insurance companies usually pay little amounts at the beginning to fix you before you involve the second thought in the deal. Always consult the attorney before taking the offer.
Involving the lawyer from the initial stages ensures you don’t make a mistake in anything. He/she will further represent you in negotiating the settlement amount. If the insurance is reluctant to give a reasonable amount, he/she will call the details of the accident to justify your compensation. He will further advise you on whether to consider a court trial based on the odds of winning the higher trial value.
Below are some of the crucial things you ought to know regarding any transaction with an adjuster:
The Information You Should Give To The Insurance Adjuster
You should honestly inform the insurance adjuster of the date, place, details of the parties to the accident, and the road conditions at the time and location of the accident. Avoid anything else beyond these regardless of the insurer the adjuster represents. The golden rule you should obey when dealing with all adjusters is declining to record any statement with them before consulting.
Dealing with Your Company’s Adjusters Versus Those of other Parties’ Insurers
Dealing with the adjusters from other parties’ insurers needs the strictest caution. These are just insurer’s emissaries who do not work to safeguard your rights and are not concerned in any way. When dealing with your auto insurer’s adjuster, you need to cooperate with them with the legal scope. This cooperation with the company and its agents is a requirement within your policy. Your insurer assesses the severity of the accident through the adjuster, and you ought to be the active member in the investigation since it concerns your indemnification.
Therefore before you accept to give any information to an adjuster, you ought to establish which auto insurer they represent. The adjusters only serve the interest of their company and that of the insurer’s customers. Hence you need to determine who they serve as there is a relative difference about what you should reveal to each of them.
PIP Insurance Cover
If you are a resident of the no-fault state such as Florida, then you are entitled to no-fault benefits from your auto insurer. This type of exclusive compensation in payment of medical bills applies to all people injured in the accident regardless of who was at fault in the car accident. When you report the accident to the insurance within the stipulated time, your auto insurer’s adjuster will require you to fill the personal injury protection form. You should therefore cooperate and fill the form to authorize the insurer access to the medical records, process healthcare bills, and pay on your behalf.
Filling this form is a reasonable request. However, you need to avoid admitting the fault for the accident unless it is officially investigated and reported as such. The adjuster seeks to know whether you were at fault to alert the insurer to get ready for paying the claims against you from other accident parties.
The adjuster examines whether you are the one at fault in the accident, and they also seek any other material facts to help in formulating the compensation criteria. If the official investigation has been done and established that you are the one at fault, do not hesitate to disclose it. Your insurance will compensate the parties in the accident up to the limit of the auto insurance cover. To that effect, details emerging in your accident may mean you carry the burden of some or all the compensation liability.
Precautions When Giving Recorded Statements
The only time you can consider giving a recorded statement is when you understand the full legal implications of doing so. Your lawyer will provide you such expertise in escaping the loopholes. If you have no lawyer yet and the other parties’ insurance adjuster visits you at home, you can be safe if you speak to an intermediary such as a relative. In this case, any false or speculated statement from the intermediary cannot bind you.
The insurance adjusters are professionals and may manipulate you to feel at ease while they lure you to give information that could tamper with your compensation. For instance, admitting that you are well to an adjuster implies that you never sustained injuries, and thus, you need no payment.
Another trick used by the adjusters is to make you admit that you were partially or wholly at-fault for the accident. Any statement that suggests this justifies awarding you a portion of the total indemnification or nothing.
Penalties For Not Cooperating With Your Insurer
The adjuster from your auto insurance may ask you to record a statement, and as the above emphasis is, you ought to take heed on what you do and say in the testimony. Refusing to file an account may be used as a reason to deny you compensation by citing a lack of cooperation within the guidelines. Facing a dilemma of what to do suggests involving an experienced personal injury right from the time of the accident. The lawyer will help you in drafting the statement to make sure you don’t write it only to harm yourself.
Do No Ever Be Pressured To Sign Any Documents
Adjusters often trick car accident victims into signing medical authorization records to access their medical information. However, you should never sign those documents at the request of the other parties’ insurance adjusters; instead, it is safe forwarding all records and bills to your adjuster.
The danger of signing medical authorization from adjusters of other auto insurers is that they have no limitation on the details and time of the access. They can mine the details of your medical history, which have no bearing in the accident, to deny you compensation. These adjusters have no obligation to reveal what they accessed to you.
The other dangerous step they can take is that medical authorization gives them a chance to talk to your healthcare provider without your consent. Beware that the approval to access medical information does not expire; hence they can continue the ill-aimed perusal of your medical information long after a lawyer takes control of the case.
Adjusters Have No Legal Knowledge
You ought to know that adjusters are not lawyers and have no legal knowledge. You should never bend too easily to their pressure to sign their documents. They have no precise legal expertise on the implications of your moves with them. Hence you cannot depend on their advice. At any time, you ought to engage your personal injury attorney in interpreting for you the effect of signing any insurance document.
Make the most use of the time before forwarding any document to your insurer’s adjuster to review it for any mistake. Consult with your doctor for anything unclear details before sending any written material. After the doctor reviews and corrects the information, the personal injury lawyer ought to examine them further. It is wrong to assume that your medical doctor has experience dealing with auto insurers.
Never Accept a Settlement Value Before You Heal
Adjusters are persons likely to dupe you into accepting a lower settlement value in the compensation. They usually call to settle the claim even before 24 hours elapses after the accident. Know the loophole in this quick contact.
One reason for pushing for this quick compensation is that they know you are not aware of the extent of car accident injuries. Internal injuries take time to surface as the shock of the accident settles down. Adrenaline masks pains, and it is advisable to negotiate on the settlement after the doctor has examined you thoroughly.
Adjusters have a better idea of the compensation amount and want to settle it during the early stages of healing before it hikes. A significant blunder that you should never make is signing the document for the release of the nominal settlement. Once you receive this unjustified settlement, not even a personal injury attorney can negotiate for more in case it falls short of your damages and losses. The window for discussing a higher claim when the losses and expenses exceed it closes.
Time Limitations for Compensation Claim
You have to resist the pressure to comply with the adjusters’ hurried demands within the legal time limits. The Floridian state law allows car accident victims up to four years to file a compensation claim. If the driver at-fault in the accident had no third-party insurance, then the time limitations extend to five years. The shorter limitations are two years in case a wrongful death occurs in the car accident. Importantly when you reside in a no-fault state, personal injury protection insurance for paying the healthcare bills is only available if you visit the doctor within 14 days after the accident elapses.
These variations of times allowed to specific cases are bound to change. Hence it is advisable to consult your personal injury attorney on what applies to you. You should work within the time limits with your insurance adjusters for you to secure your just compensation.
Dealing With Adjusters’ Delays
The adjusters act out the desire of the company to compensate you but that this appearance of concern should not move you. They are out to save the insurers money, and the pressure to ask for information and record statements, which you should not give without legal counsel, is followed by long delays. After the seemingly innocuous investigation, the negotiation for settlements stalls. Meanwhile, you have medical bills to pay and a basic lifestyle to maintain. Adjusters use delays to whip you into complying with low settlements.
As mentioned above, involve your personal injury attorney in seeking compensation. The lawyer will thus push for right and timely settlement within the legal guidelines.
When Attending Negotiation Meetings
The adjuster may hold negotiations with you either in hospital, via phone, or scheduled appointments in the insurer’s offices. You need to be keen to schedule your meetings only during business hours, regardless of your convenience. Choose an attorney to accompany you in those meetings. If you have not chosen an attorney yet, go with a relative or a reliable friend.
When the adjuster asks you for the reasonable amount for your settlement, don’t settle for little. Tips from the attorney will give you the right amount or let the attorney speak on your behalf. The acquaintance or a lawyer will guard the sneaky adjuster against misleading you.
The Art of Negotiating With the Adjuster
In the above meeting, you will be negotiating on the settlement amount after the personal injury attorney has sent a demand to the insurer with your proposed settlement amount. Additionally, the insurance company will also send you the reservation letter. The letter informs you that the insurer is investigating you and won’t pay you if it turns out that your policy does not cover the cause of the accident. Thus the settlement negotiations do not indicate automatic compensation since they can cease when the facts of accident work against you.
Remember, you stated your preferred amount in the demand letter. The adjuster gives a lower offer than your requested amount based on the emerging strength of evidence for and against your compensation. Apart from the stated amount, decide for yourself the most moderate amount you can accept without revealing it except to the attorney. If the adjuster begins with an initial offer that is closer to your preferred be shrewd and revise it upward. Contrastingly if the adjuster points to weaknesses in your claim that you had not considered, do not be rigid to your conceived amount.
The initial settlement offer only serves to examine whether you know the game of negotiation. You should take an offer that is slightly less than your demand offer. Agreeing to this shows that you are reasonably ready to compromise to the proper amount. The low offers are just a negotiating tactic, and when offered them, you should ask the adjuster through writing to justify them. The attorney will help you deliberate on your claim until you reach a fair settlement.
The Insurance Adjuster Should Not Pressure You to Think They Can Withdraw Their Offer
Some policyholders comply with the adjuster’s pressure into signing the initial settlement offers too quickly. They fear that the offer would soon be scraped off and would not be available, which is not the case.
Always delay settling on the insurance claim until you are aware of the following:
- All the injuries suffered in the accident
- The healthcare fees
- Future medical needs imposed by the accident
- The effect of the accident to your ability to work or earn
Knowing all the above gives an elevated insight into the negotiation of the settlement offer.
The adjusters only seek peace between their company and the claimant and nothing more. The pressure to sign the settlement amount should not arouse any urgency and the desire to receive the settlement amount immediately for both the present and future healthcare fees. They will only settle it in installments, and the claim terminates once they compensate you. It is a dangerous maneuver to accept a settlement too quickly with your auto insurer for too little.
Find a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
The insurance adjusters can be tricky to deal with without legal backing. They watch you make a misinformed phrase and record it to influence your insurance claim. If you have sustained personal injuries in a car accident in Jacksonville, your legal recourse ought to be the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney. We have vast experience negotiating on behalf of accident victims seeking compensation. Call today by dialing 904-800-7557 for a consultation in your personal injury compensation claim.