Car accidents are a serious problem in communities throughout Washington. According to the Annual Collision Summary, which was published by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), there were 117,053 motor vehicle collisions in the state in 2015. In total, these crashes resulted in 49,505 reported injuries, and sadly, at least 551 traffic deaths.
Victims of car accidents are entitled to receive full compensation from the party that was at fault for the crash. Unfortunately, in practice, fair compensation is often difficult to obtain. The big insurance companies work aggressively to try to limit how much can be recovered by injured victims. To effectively protect their claim, auto accident victims need to be ready to deal with the insurance company’s representatives.
At Khan Law Firm, PLLC, our top-rated Seattle car accident attorneys are committed to fighting for the legal rights and financial interests of Washington car accident victims. We want to make sure that all injured victims have the knowledge and resources that they need to get the fair compensation that they rightfully deserve. Here, our car accident injury team has put together a guide for how to deal with insurance adjusters after a collision.
1. Understand the Insurance Adjuster’s Goals
To start, it is critically important that you understand where the insurance adjuster is coming from. You should have a basic understanding of what they are trying to get out of any interaction with you. Remember, an insurance adjuster is a representative of their employer. Their job is to look out for the insurance company’s bottom line, not to protect your best interests. You need to view an insurance adjuster as a representative of the opposing party in your case. This is true even if you are dealing with an adjuster from your own insurance company. Do not rely on an insurance adjuster for guidance through the complex car accident claims process.
2. Never Admit Fault for the Crash
You should never admit fault, even partial fault, for a car accident. Simply put, it is not your job to determine who was to blame for the crash. You should let your attorney handle that issue. To be sure, an insurance adjuster may try to get injured car accident victims to accept a portion of the blame for their own crash. They do this because Washington is a comparative negligence state. If an insurance adjuster can get you to accept partial blame for a collision, then they may be able to reduce your settlement offer, perhaps by a large amount.
3. Avoid Giving a Recorded Statement
Insurance adjusters will often try to get a recorded statement from you very shortly after your accident. Indeed, you may receive a call from an insurance agent before you have even really had time to recover and to process your accident. Do not feel pressured into giving a statement. You should be aware of the fact that you are under no obligation to give a recorded statement at this time. In fact, it is highly recommended that you avoid giving such a statement. The insurance adjuster is looking for things that they can use against you to reduce your settlement offer or deny your claim. Before you submit to any type of formal statement, you should be sure to first consult with a Seattle auto accident attorney. Your lawyer will be able to make sure that giving a statement is actually in your best interests.
4. Be Skeptical of a Quick Settlement Offer
In some car accident cases liability is relatively clear. The insurance company may not put any effort into disputing fault. They may simply just accept that their driver is to blame for the accident. Great news, right? It is a little bit more complicated than that. This is because when fault for the accident is not in dispute, insurance adjusters need to use other tactics and strategies to protect the interests of the company. Put another way, insurance adjusters will focus on trying to limit the total value of the settlement offer. One way that they do this is by trying to make a quick (low) settlement offer in order to get the victim to give up their claim, before the victim has time to realize the true value of their damages. You should always be skeptical of quick settlement offers. Do not accept one penny less than you deserve.
5. Do Not Sign a Release for Your Medical Records
Following an accident, insurance adjusters often want to get access to the victim’s medical records. Certainly, the insurance company will have the right to review relevant records. However, insurance adjusters are known to make overly broad requests, seeking access to your entire medical history. The reason they do this is that they want to see if they can dig through your medical record in order to find any reason to deny certain treatment as a ‘pre-existing’ condition. Do not sign a release for your medical records without first having the specific request reviewing by an attorney in Seattle, WA.
6. Work Through a Washington Car Accident Attorney
The best thing you can do to protect your legal rights and financial interests is to work with the insurance company through your legal representative. The insurance company is staffed by trained professionals; you need a top-quality legal professional working on your behalf as well. Your Washington car accident lawyer will be able to ensure that your car accident injury claim is being handled fairly by the insurance company.
At Foster Law, P.C., our Seattle personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling car accident claims. We have the skills and experience needed to hold the big insurance companies accountable. Before you speak to an insurance adjuster, please consult with our legal team.
To get a free, no obligation review of your car accident case, call us today at (206) 682-3436. From our offices in Seattle and Tukwila, we represent injured car accident victims throughout the region, including in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Island County, Mason County, and Kitsap County.