You need to be careful after a car crash, especially in a state with comparative negligence laws, like Texas. One wrong move or one unfortunately worded sentence and you could jeopardize your entire claim, either limiting your ability to recover the settlement you’re entitled to or depriving you of insurance coverage altogether.
To really understand why this is a problem, we need to examine the #1 mistake drivers make when talking to the insurance company.
This Call May Be Recorded
If you hear those words when you call the insurance company, be extremely cautious. Assume that anything you say, no matter how small, can and will be used against you. This is the concept of recorded statements, a method for insurance companies to create an almost permanent record of your words.
The problem is that insurance adjusters are trained negotiators and will ask leading questions that either lower your guard or say something you didn’t intend. Once you say the wrong thing, it is extremely difficult to get those statements removed. Worst of all, most people don’t realize what’s happening.
Even if the call isn’t being recorded, it’s not unusual for an insurance adjuster to ask if you’d be willing to answer a few questions “for the record.” If this happens, end the call as quickly as possible and contact your attorney. Remember, there is no requirement to provide a recorded statement without your attorney present, no matter what the insurance adjuster says.
Sometimes, the insurance company will attempt to intimidate, claiming they can’t authorize a rental car or that you are required to make a statement. Again, if this happens ignore them and call your attorney.
A Practical Example
What is the real harm of a recorded statement? Let's look at a practical example to explain. Jorge is t-boned by a car at a busy intersection. He had the right of way, and the other driver ran a red light. It’s a fairly cut and dry case, and Jorge holds 0% of the fault.
However, when Jorge calls the insurance company and explains what happened, he says, “I didn’t even see him coming. He just crashed into me.” Even in a straightforward case like this, the insurance company could use Jorge’s statement to claim that if he had looked both ways before entering the intersection, the crash could have been avoided. As such, they assign him 25% of the fault, significantly reducing his recovery.
Remember, insurance adjusters talk to injured people every day. They know how to elicit a response that will shift fault and result in a smaller settlement.
The insurance adjuster’s job of saving their company money is not compatible with your goal of earning a fair recovery. After any car crash, it’s wise to minimize contact with the insurance company and let your attorney negotiate on your behalf.
If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in a car crash crash, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Amarillo car accident attorney from Wood Law Firm LLP, please send us an email or call (806) 304-0447.