Typically, especially in an automobile accident, both insurance companies – the insurance company for the person that was injured, and the insurance company for the person that caused the injuries, will be attempting to contact the injured party. And they both want to take statements from them.
Discussing the facts of the accident or circumstances surrounding the causation of the accident with the insurance company can cause problems because you may have an idea of how the accident happened.
You may tell that to the insurance company at the time you’re on the phone and then realize 10 minutes later that you misspoke. You said something wrong. The insurance company has recorded those statements.
They’re going to then transcribe the conversation and use it against you in court exactly the way you told it to them on the phone. So, you better make sure you have it straight in your mind before you talk to the insurance company. Because just talking off the cuff can be very dangerous – especially if they try to purposely trip you up.
In a perfect world, your own insurance company should be on your side. But in the case of underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance company could actually end up being against you in those circumstances.
You really have to be careful talking to any insurance company, even your own, after you’re involved in an accident. Again, insurance companies are going to want to record your statements and potentially use them against you in trial or arbitration later on in the case.
You’re never under any obligation to talk to the defendant’s insurance company. They may say, “Hey listen, we’re not going to pay the claim then, and you have to file a lawsuit unless you talk to us.” Well, maybe that’s the better course of action anyways. Anything you say to them, they’re going to want to use against you.
Insurance companies will try to trick you into saying things that hurt your case. Private investigators and claims adjusters will do the same thing. They will couch the discussions as, “Just give me this information so I can help you.”
Be very careful. Those people are not your friends. They’re trying to help themselves and not trying to help you.
If you do talk to an insurance company, be sure not to play down your injuries as mentioned above. That can only serve to hurt you. Saying it slightly differently, what happens often is that people don’t want to be whiners or to make mountains out of molehills, so they downplay things.
You definitely don’t want to do that, because if you downplay it they’re going to hold you to your statements, even when it turns out that your injuries were more serious than you thought.
When contacted by an insurance company, the best response is simply “I’ll have my lawyer call you.”
The insurance company, once it hears that, is under an obligation to refrain from asking any further questions and to reach out to your attorney. It doesn’t mean they’ll do that. They may poke around a little bit and say, “Do you have a lawyer or are you just looking into it?”
If you’re just looking into a lawyer, they can still press you a little bit. And they’re trained to get you to tell them what they want to hear.
But if you tell them you have a lawyer they have to stop talking to you by law and then reach out to your law firm. They can be pretty aggressive. I’ve seen them be hyper-aggressive in dealing with injured people until you say those magic words. “I have a lawyer. Talk to my lawyer.” And then they have to back off.
Bottom line—get legal advice before you talk to an insurance company, and follow your attorney’s advice on what to say, and whether you even have to talk to them.