What to Know Before Speaking
to an Insurance Adjuster
According to the website Car Insurance Comparison, which ranked the “10 States with the Worst Drivers,” Texas tied with New Mexico for the top spot.
Careless driving was listed as the top cause for the ranking, followed by speeding. Texas also had the highest percentage of fatal car accidents caused by a driver without a driver’s license at 19.1 percent, and also the highest rate of alcohol-related fatalities of the 10 states at 79.56 percent.
The rankings, according to the website, were compiled from statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The site says that the analysis was done by examining five categories: death rate per 100 million miles driven in the state, failure to obey, careless driving, drunk driving, and speeding.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident in or around Houston, contact the personal injury attorneys at Ellis & Thomas, PLLC. We stand ready to handle your claim with the insurance company and pursue other legal options if necessary. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of an insurance adjuster who is out to lowball or deny your claim. We will fight for you.
Ellis & Thomas, PLLC proudly serves clients not only in the greater Houston area, but also in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, and Brazoria County, Texas.
What Happens When You File a Claim?
Texas is a “fault” automobile insurance state. This means you can hold the at-fault driver responsible for your injuries and damages and file with that person’s insurance company. You can also file a claim with your own insurance company, which will then seek a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer.
Insurance policies have clauses requiring “timely reporting” of claims, so you need to submit your claim fairly promptly, generally within a few days at most.
Now, if your claim is against the other driver’s insurance company, the next voice you hear on your phone will be that of a claims adjuster from that driver’s insurance company. Likewise, if you file with your own company, you also will be contacted by a claims adjuster, but the other driver’s insurance company’s claims adjuster is likely to be more adversarial toward you.
Claims adjusters are trained professionals whose jobs are to protect the parent company’s bottom line by reducing or even eliminating its liability in any claim. Therefore, if you’re contacted by a claims adjuster, you need to know that they are likely to use proven techniques to get you to say something that can reduce, or even eliminate, their liability.
Dealing With Insurance Adjusters
If you’re dealing with an insurance adjuster from your own policy, you may be required to provide enough details that they can pursue a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company contacts you, you will be likely subjected to an arsenal of tactics and techniques that can sway – or coerce – you into admitting some measure of guilt or saying something that casts doubt on your injuries.
Your best bet is to rely on an auto accident attorney to deal with the claims adjuster and negotiate for you. Experienced attorneys know all the tricks of the insurance trade and can negotiate a better deal.
If you do end up in a conversation with a claims adjuster, however, there are several warnings to keep in mind:
DON’T AGREE TO A RECORDED CONVERSATION: The insurance company wants a record of everything you say so they can use your words against you. You don’t have to agree to be recorded. If they insist, refer them to your attorney or hire an attorney to handle the negotiations.
DON’T ADMIT ANY GUILT: Careful in what you say. Anything that might indicate you had some part in the accident can lead to a reduced settlement or even a denial of compensation. Remember, Texas uses a modified comparative negligence standard, so if you can be shown to have some part in the accident, your benefits can be reduced or even eliminated if your fault exceeds 50 percent.
DON’T SIGN ANYTHING: If the adjuster wants to send you a medical release form, don’t sign it but get an attorney to review it. Often, the insurance company is looking to find a pre-existing condition that led to your injuries. Also, don’t sign any settlement offer without an attorney review. The first offer is likely to be “as low as they can go.” Remember, once you sign a settlement, you can’t go back for more compensation if your injuries worsen or reappear down the road.
KEEP IT BRIEF: You don’t have to provide details. You can simply say that everything is still under investigation and you’re awaiting the results of the investigation.
DON’T VOLUNTEER ANYTHING: As a corollary to being brief, resist the urge to volunteer information or details, no matter how vital you think they may be.
DON’T ANSWER QUESTIONS WHEN YOU HAVE NO ANSWER: This is another corollary to “be brief” and “don’t volunteer.” If the adjuster asks you a question that you have no answer to or it feels like it’s a “trap” query, just don’t say anything. “I’m not sure” and “I don’t know” work fine.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
When dealing with insurance adjusters, the best advice is to rely on an experienced auto accident attorney to handle everything for you. If you’re not familiar with their questions and tactics, you can slip up and say something that can provide them with a reason to reduce or deny your claim. Let an experienced, knowledgeable attorney handle the negotiations for you.
If you or a loved one has been injured in or around Houston, contact the attorneys at Ellis & Thomas, PLLC to deal with your insurance claim. You can recover from your injuries while we deal with the claims adjusters.