Never Speak to an Insurance Adjuster Before Consulting a Lawyer
Insurance adjusters have just one job - to save their employer money. This is true whether you are dealing with your own insurance company or that of another driver. Insurance adjusters are master investigators and negotiators, often taking advantage of the inexperience of the average driver with insurance matters.
At Coletrane & Messersmith, we are dedicated to preparing you to deal with insurance companies after your accident with valuable information. Contact us now for powerful representation, or keep reading to learn how to best handle insurance adjusters.
Should a Lawyer Be Present When Speaking to an Insurance Adjuster?
Insurance adjusters use many tactics to try to save their employers money. This may even include laying the blame for the accident on your shoulders, even if you weren’t at fault. They often ask specific questions designed to lead you into seeming discrepancies in your story, then using those discrepancies against you.
Having a lawyer present when you talk to the insurance adjuster will help you avoid these pitfalls. Your attorney can advise you which questions to answer, or prompt you on how to answer them. You will have the opportunity to allow your attorney to speak for you, which can also help you avoid the pitfalls and traps that the insurance adjuster lays out for you.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Speak to a Lawyer Before Talking to an Insurance Adjuster?
Several things could happen if you speak to an insurance adjuster without an attorney. What could actually happen depends on the specific circumstances of your case.
The most common outcomes when speaking to an insurance adjuster without a lawyer are:
- The insurance company could deny your claim, pushing you to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- The recordings from your conversations with the insurance adjuster could be used against you in court and result in the denial of your personal injury claim.
- You could be blamed for the accident and be forced to prove your innocence or you could be ordered to pay for the other driver’s injuries.
- You could be given a lowball settlement offer.
In short, the insurance adjuster will do everything they can to deny your claim, or to pay a lower amount if possible. The only way to protect yourself is to have an attorney present while you are talking to insurance adjusters.
Are You Obligated to Talk to an Insurance Company When They Call?
Virginia law requires you to cooperate with your insurance company. However, Section 38.2-2204 states that the insurance company cannot deny your claim based on your failure to cooperate, so long as the lack of cooperation does not prejudice the insurance company in their defense.
This law also only applies to your own insurance company. You have no legal duty to cooperate with the other driver’s insurance company. Even when dealing with your own insurance company, you have options. Before you have talked to a lawyer, put off the insurance company by telling them you will call them back. After you have retained a lawyer, refer them to your attorney rather than speaking to them on the phone directly.
Protect Yourself With Experienced Legal Representation
As you can see, it is very important that you have legal representation when you speak to insurance adjusters. In many cases, your attorney can negate the need for you to speak to the adjuster directly at all, or alone. While you do need to cooperate with your insurance company, there is no requirement that you do so one-on-one.
At Coletrane & Messersmith, we represent personal injury clients after their car accidents even if their claim is settled with the insurance company out of court. We are prepared to do what it takes to get fair compensation in your case, even if that means going to trial. Contact us today at (757) 223-4455 to schedule your free consultation.