How to Handle Insurance Adjusters After a Car Accident: Tips from a New Orleans Car Accident Lawyer
You’ve left your home to get your child to school. You make sure that your child is properly secured in the rear seat, you adjust your mirrors and seat belt, you place your cell phone out of reach so you will not be distracted while driving. You have done all the right things.
Unfortunately, what you didn’t account for was a negligent driver who was busy chatting on the phone while they were driving. When you stopped at a red light, the car rear ended you. Fortunately, while you and your child both suffered injuries, they were nowhere near as serious as they could have been.
Fortunately, your accident was not as serious as the one which took place shortly after Thanksgiving when a family had to be rescued from their car after it began sinking. Hopefully, you will be able to recover from the traumatic event much more quickly than this family will recover from theirs.
Negligent operators are all over the roadways in New Orleans and the surrounding area. Some drivers are rushing to get where they are going and drive recklessly, others ignore traffic signals, and some just practice poor judgment getting behind the wheel of a car when they are impaired.
The bottom line is that once police are notified and you have sought medical care, the next thing that is likely to occur related to the accident is the telephone call from an insurance adjuster. What many people do not know is that too often, these phone calls are the most common reason for low settlement offers after a car accident.
Communicating Effectively with the Insurance Adjuster After a Car Accident
What you say and do when dealing with insurance adjusters is important to how your accident case gets settled. In most cases, you are better off contacting a car accident attorney before you answer any questions or take any phone calls from an insurance adjuster. Remember, their goal is not to help you, it is to protect their employer, the insurance company.
Here are some things you should avoid when speaking with an adjuster:
- Be careful sharing information — you may confirm your personal information such as your name, date of birth, etc. but avoid sharing information such as your normal schedule with an adjuster. When discussing the accident, only provide the date, location, and time. Do not share any additional information about the accident. Do not provide any information regarding your injury or injuries.
- No recorded statements — if the adjuster asks if they may record a statement tell them no. You are under no obligation to provide a statement to the insurance company of the person who caused your injuries. Recorded statements are requested specifically to have information which may be used later to discredit you or reduce your claim.
- Do not accept a settlement offer — while you may think you are getting a great offer from the insurance company, be aware that if they are making a quick offer it is because they do not want you to hire an attorney. Chances are that the offer they make will not come close to reimbursing you for your losses. This is the insurer’s standard procedure in most car accident cases. They know the sooner after an accident they can reach the victim, the more likely it is there will not be an attorney involved.
- Do not sign any documents — you may receive a number of documents in the days and weeks following an accident. Never sign any document without review by an experienced personal injury attorney. There will likely be medical releases in these documents which are specifically requested in order to determine if you have a prior injury that could help the insurer minimize your current claim.
- Take notes after conversation — after speaking with an adjuster make notes indicating who you spoke to along with the date and time. Take a minute to jot down what questions you were asked as well as how you answered them. This will be helpful when you meet with an accident injury attorney.
Documenting Your Accident: Essential Steps to Take After the Fact
Unfortunately, many accident victims are unable to take photographs or otherwise document an accident at the scene due to their injuries. However, there are still some steps which you can take once you are at home which will help your case. Some of these include:
- Write down what you remember — think about when the accident occurred. What did you see as far as signage, what was the weather, are there stores or ATMs nearby? Make note of what position your car was in at the time of impact.
- Obtain a copy of the police report — the Louisiana State Police website has full information regarding how to obtain a copy of the accident report. These reports are generally filed once the investigation of the accident is complete.
- Obtain copies of your medical treatment — when you are treated after an accident, chances are you were in an emergency room or trauma center. Contact them to get a copy of the record for the treatment you received.
While it may be difficult, the more details you can provide the better off you will be. In some cases, the police report may be able to help you piece together any information you may have forgotten. Remember, the sooner you gather this information, the sooner it will be possible to assess the financial losses you have suffered and file a claim.
Dealing with the Aftermath of a Car Accident: Managing Chaos and Stress
Whenever you have been involved in an accident on Louisiana roadways, the days following the accident are chaotic. You have to notify your employer that you are unable to work, you have to schedule work to be done on your damaged vehicle, and you are trying to recover from the injuries you suffered. Do not allow insurance adjusters to take advantage of this chaos by sharing information which can create problems with your insurance claim. Instead, contact an auto accident attorney immediately to protect yourself.
There are numerous benefits to seeking legal advice following an accident. Remember, when you contact an attorney to schedule a consultation, the consultation is free. Additionally, you are under no obligation to hire the attorney you consult with. You need to make sure that your claim is protected and that you can seek compensation for an amount that is consistent with your loss and that often means hiring an attorney who has a proven record of success with other cases.
If you have been involved in a car accident in New Orleans, please contact the Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC online, or call our office at (504) 294-5094.