If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, you already know that dealing with the other driver’s insurance adjusters can be almost as traumatic and the accident itself! In today’s post, the automobile and truck accident injury attorney at the Doan Law Firm will answer some of more frequently asked questions that we regularly receive and offer suggestions regarding how to respond to some of the tactics used by adjusters to gather information that could be used to undermine your legitimate injury claim.
If I was injured in an accident, am I required to talk to an insurance adjuster?
You do not have to talk to anyone following a vehicle accident. The only exception is that you must talk with any law enforcement officer who is the on-the-scene investigator or an officer who is doing follow-up work such as interviews at a hospital or collecting additional information on items such as vehicle registration and/or proof of insurance.
Although the vast majority of insurance adjusters are ethical in there dealings with accident victims, there are others that will deliberately misrepresent themselves to be police officers, news reporters, other accident victims and witnesses. You must therefore be very careful how you answer even the most innocent-sounding questions.
Can an insurance adjuster force me to give a statement?
Although an adjuster would like to have you think the opposite, he or she cannot compel you to make any kind of statement or report. The only time that you must give a statement is when you are subpoenaed by the court and ordered to give a sworn statement known as a deposition.
An adjuster is calling me every day. What can I do to stop this harassment?
Unlike the case with “credit agencies” (bill collectors), who are prohibited from using tactics such as harassing phone calls, insurance adjusters are generally free to as they please in their dealings with accident victims. This does not mean that you are powerless to fight back against such abuse. Here are a few suggestions:
Inform the adjuster that you will not discuss your case without consulting an attorney. Tell the adjuster that you will call back with the name, address, and phone number of the law firm that will be handling your case.
Refuse to sign for packages or special delivery mail from the US Postal Service, Federal Express, UPS, or some other similar service. You may be signing for a “time sensitive” document that contains a low settlement offer that the adjuster will later cite as “proof” that you rejected a “generous” settlement.
Keep a record of the date, time, and subject of every telephone call, text message, e-mail, or social media contact that you receive. Once you can document the harassment, you can give your record to your lawyer or submit a copy of that record to the agency that regulates the insurance industry in your state.
Does a claim adjuster have access to my medical records?
No one should have access to your medical records without your consent! In fact, if a health care facility allows anyone to see your medical records without a release form signed by you, that facility can find themselves in some very serious trouble with agencies such as the Social Security Administration, Medicare, and any state or federal agency that must comply with the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA).
A claims adjuster wants to record our conversations, should I allow this?
You should never allow an adjuster to record your conversations unless your lawyer is present or has at least told you that recording was OK. This includes all types of recording such as audio, video, or still-frame pictures. If the adjuster insists that he or she can record without your consent (which they are allowed to do by federal law), inform the adjuster that you do not consent and then politely excuse yourself until you have spoken with your lawyer.
In summary, there is no law that says you must talk to an insurance claim adjuster, much less give an adjuster a written or recorded statement. Insurance adjusters are fully aware of this fact. Since they are employees whose job function is to reduce the amount of money that their employers (the insurance company) will have to pay out to settle your claim, you may rest assured that they will attempt to use anything that you do or say against you later on.