In this article you will learn:
- Risks in speaking with even your own insurance company
- How a recorded statement can be used against you
- Why to be skeptical of initial settlement offers
The risk in having contact with the at-fault party’s insurance is huge because if you talk to the adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company and you have no attorney yet, the adjuster wants to ask you questions. And the way that they’re going to do that is by having you consent to doing a recorded statement, which can then be accessed by anybody and used at trial.
They want to trick you. They want to ask you questions, put pressure on you, and ask tricky questions that are kind of hard to understand. They want you to admit some type of liability, whatever that might be. The goal of these questions is to get you to admit as much fault as possible while taking the situation out of context to benefit their defense. They may even try to get you to admit to things that were not previously known. If the only way that anybody knows about that is from you admitting it, you just shot yourself on the foot, you killed your case, and you probably can’t recover anything against the other driver at that point since you contributed to the accident. In Maryland, if you contribute even 1%, you can’t recover anything.
If it’s a lane change, they might try to get you to admit that you were in some way shifting lanes a little bit while you were changing the station. Let’s say there was an accident, it’s a he-said she-said lane change on the freeway. They might ask you “Well, right before the accident, what were you doing”, and you might say, “Well, I was checking in with my husband to see if I should get takeout tonight for a dinner.” That might show that you were looking at your phone right before the impact and therefore, maybe you swerved into that other driver.
If you do happen to answer a call from an insurance company, even if it’s your own, there’s no difference. Even if it’s your own and they want to do a recorded statement or ask you about any facts of the accident, say, “Well, respectfully, I have an attorney, and he told me to ask you to call him”, and that’s fine. Give them my name and number, they can call me, and we’ll get along just fine, I guarantee it. We always do.
Now, I’m not going to answer their questions, that’s for sure. And they know I’m not going to, and once they know you have an attorney, they’re going to ease up on you heavily and not try to trick you anymore. But do not do a recorded statement with any insurance company, even your own – here’s why. Let’s say you have Progressive, the other driver has insurance, and they say, “Well, we want to do a recorded statement for this.” Say no, because if they take one, then guess who can get it, the other insurance company. They can still subpoena it from progressive and use it against you as if they took it themselves.
Why To Be Skeptical If The Insurance Company Offers A Settlement Right Away Upfront
I can’t imagine a scenario in which you should accept an early settlement, because it’s going to be a lowball offer. I remember one time just by example, they offered the client, I think, $1,000 bucks. I think the hospital bill was around $800 or something similar. They offered $1,000, and she declined it. We ended up settling for $9,000, and it was a small case overall, but we settled it for $9,000. So, she ended up with a few thousand in her pocket and proper medical care rather than almost no medical care and almost nothing in her pocket. Still, the insurance company wants to save money. They don’t want to help the injured person. They want to help themselves increase their bottom-line, and they do that by not paying out. And if they can settle your case very cheaply right now, then that’s great. They want to do it. If you want to fall for that, you can, and people do, but I don’t recommend it because if they want to offer you anything, that means you have a decent case, and you can virtually be guaranteed to get more later. On but on top of that, the biggest thing is it’s not getting money in your pocket, the biggest thing is getting you proper medical care, and you’re far from that if they’re going to make a very lowball offer to you.
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