Personal Injury Cases: Moving on to Better Things

The Morning After: How To Handle The Adjuster's Phone Call After An Auto Accident

It's the morning after your auto accident and you haven't even taken stock yet of your injuries, but the phone is ringing. When you pick up the call, the other driver's insurance adjuster is on the line and "just wants to ask a few questions." How you answer and what you say can impact your future, so use this guide.

No, You Don't Want To Make A Recorded Statement.

Generally speaking, the adjuster is going to sound friendly and concerned. He or she may actually be friendly, and genuinely concerned. However, the adjuster also has a job to do, and that job includes minimizing the financial consequences to the insurance agent over the accident you were in.

Shortly after asking if you have time to talk with him or her for a few minutes, the adjuster will likely ask you if it's okay to record your statement. There is no reason to record your statement, except to use it as evidence later, should your car accident result in a lawsuit.

The inherent danger of giving a recorded statement is that you can end up giving incomplete information and then be stuck looking as if you are trying to make up additional information later to improve your case.

Never agree to be recorded over the phone by the adjuster. If your accident results in a lawsuit, you may eventually give a formal deposition, at which point everything you say will be recorded or documented by a court reporter. Until then, simply tell the adjuster that you aren't comfortable being recorded.

Instead, Reschedule The Conversation For Another Day.

You are under no obligation to make a recorded statement - or any statement at all just yet. Rather than complying with the adjuster's request, politely tell the adjuster that you can't spare the time right then, but you'll be glad to talk later. Then, get out your calendar.

If the adjuster continues to ask questions or push for a statement, continue to say that you simply don't have the time right then. You can confirm the location of the accident, if you like, but give no details and don't discuss your injuries.

Waiting To Make A Statement Doesn't Make You Dishonest.

There is nothing dishonest about waiting to make a statement until you have a chance to think about what happened and really assess how you feel physically. There's also nothing wrong about wanting to protect yourself against accidentally saying something that could have a legal impact that you can't foresee.

At this early point post-accident, you may not even know whether or not you are injured in some way. It can take several days for nerve damage to show, and what may right now feel like a bruised shoulder from the seat belt could turn debilitating if a pinched nerve in your neck or arm continues to be compressed.

If you do have injuries, there is no way that you can state with any authority how severe they are, but the adjuster would love it if you'd try. That's precisely why you do not want to commit - on tape or otherwise - to any statements about your injuries. 

No matter what the circumstances, if you're involved in a car accident you should give yourself time to consult with a doctor, and possibly an attorney, such as Stephen G. McGowan LLC. Don't let yourself be pushed into accepting an early settlement until you have time to find out the true extend of your injuries.