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Posted in Car accident on September 29, 2022
If you have suffered injuries and damage to your car from an accident, there will be three important conversations. These conversations will be with:
Somewhere between the second and the third conversation may be a conversation with an insurance adjuster.
The purpose of this blog is to advise of the role of an insurance adjuster and to prepare you for this conversation should you decide to have it without the representation of a personal injury lawyer.
The role of an insurance adjuster is two-fold. The adjuster evaluates the claims made by policyholders, and then assesses the damages for which the insurance company will pay.
The adjuster will review the police report and photos, or videos, taken after the accident, and interview the policyholder, the other driver and witnesses. To determine the cost of the repairs to the car, the adjuster will either personally inspect the car or rely upon the estimate prepared by a certified mechanic. The adjuster and the mechanic will be able to ascertain any damage to the car prior to the accident. Any prior damage will not be a part of the claim.
Most personal injury lawyers advise their clients not to speak with an insurance adjuster. This advice refers to the adjuster working for your insurance company and extends to the adjuster working for the insurance company of the other driver.
If, however, you find having this initial conversation with an adjuster prior to securing legal representation, then please follow this advice so as not to jeopardize your position.
Please avoid sharing too many details about the accident, and never admit any fault. It is not advised to agree to a recorded conversation. The adjusters are trained to keep you talking in the hopes of your saying too much.
For this initial conversation, keep your answers short and to the point that you do not know how or why the accident happened. At this stage, let the evidence and the reports speak to the occurrence and the fault of the accident.
If you do not feel comfortable with speaking to an adjuster, then it is perfectly acceptable to ask that the conversation be rescheduled for when your lawyer can participate. Make sure you obtain the contact information or the adjuster and the date and time of the rescheduled call.
The adjuster makes sure the damages to the car are properly identified, assessed and valued. The adjusters work for insurnce companies, and insurance companies are in the business of issuing policies, collecting premiums and paying out the least amount in claims. This is the business model.
The insurance companies position the first settlement offer for negotiation; meaning, the first offer will be low.
Any settlement offer by an adjuster will not be during the first conversation. The initial conversation is a part of the investigation to gather evidence for evaluation. Usually, the settlement offer will be made after the evaluation.
Should the settlement be a part of the initial conversation, then either the call should be rescheduled right then or know to not agree to anything. Never verbally agree to accept an offer and certainly do not sign anything without the representation of a personal injury lawyer.
It is the role of an insurance adjuster to get a policyholder to agree to a settlement offer prior to the time a personal injury lawyer can be secured. You need to understand that neither the adjuster nor the insurance company represents your interests. This is true with the insurance company to whom you pay the premiums.
The only party that will represent your interests and effectively present your position is the personal injury lawyer you retain.
West Virginia is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, then you will not be awarded any compensation for your loss. This is the reason why so much importance is emphasized in initial conversations. The insurance company knows this, and it hopes its policyholders do not.
It is the advice of this firm for those involved in a car accident to seek the representation of a personal injury lawyer before any conversation with an insurance adjuster.