There are several things that an individual should do after a motor vehicle accident in California. Calling 911 to report the traffic accident, seeking medical attention, and reporting the crash to their insurance company are just three of the steps that accident victims should take after a car accident. However, what should a person do if the other driver’s insurance provider contacts the person after an accident? Should an accident victim talk to the insurance adjuster or a California car accident lawyer first?
You Are Not Obligated to Talk to the Insurance Company
You are required to report the accident to your insurance provider and cooperate with your insurance company, but you are not under any legal obligation to speak with the insurance company for the other driver. Therefore, the question becomes should you speak to a representative from the other insurance company and how much information should you share with your own insurance provider.
Remember, if you make a written or recorded statement to either insurance company, what you say in that statement could be used later in your accident claim. Because an innocent statement could be misconstrued, it is usually best to talk to a California personal injury lawyer before you provide written or recorded statements to either insurance company. An attorney can provide guidance and advice about your legal rights and the best steps to take to protect your right to recover compensation for your injuries.
Before you speak with an insurance adjuster or other representative of the insurance provider, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what the insurance company is attempting to do. Under California’s car accident laws, an accident victim must prove that the other driver was responsible for causing the crash to recover compensation for your injuries.
Why Should You Avoid Talking to the Other Insurance Company Before You Talk to an Attorney?
If the insurance provider for the other driver can obtain evidence that contradicts your allegations of fault, the company may reduce or eliminate its liability for your claim. In other words, the insurance company would not be responsible for your claim. Since the insurance company wants to pay as little to settle your claim as possible, the insurance adjuster is searching for evidence that proves you caused the accident, or you contributed to the cause of the accident. Written and recorded statements are an excellent way for the insurance adjuster to obtain information for the company to use against you during your claim.
For instance, an adjuster may “chat” with you about your day, your family, your job, and other topics that do not seem relevant to the crash. However, during your recorded statement you innocently comment on how busy you have been at work and with your children. You laugh and say that you have been so busy you have not been sleeping for a few hours each night. If the other driver is not clearly at fault for the cash, the insurance company may try to claim that you contributed to the cause of the crash because you were driving while drowsy or fatigued.
It is hard to believe that an insurance company would try to use innocent comments to shift blame for an accident away from its insured, but it may, especially if your damages are high. Remember, the insurance company is a for-profit business entity. It does not make money by paying large accident claims.
Consult a California Personal Injury Lawyer Before Talking to an Insurance Adjuster
Insurance adjusters are highly trained and skilled professionals that do not work for you. They work for the insurance provider. Before you talk to an insurance company about a traffic accident, take advantage of a free consultation with a California personal injury lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and how you can protect your best interests.