After 32 years of helping injury victims I can not think of one good reason why any injury victim should ever speak with an insurance adjuster before they consult with an injury lawyer.
Even if the adjuster seems nice, this is an adversarial system. This means the insurance adjuster for the responsible party is on the other side—they are your adversary. Their incentive is to close claims quickly and cheaply.
Question: Why does the responsible party’s insurance adjuster want to speak with you so soon? Because they want to prevent you from consulting with an injury lawyer.
As far as your own insurance company is concerned, you should report your claim to them promptly. In many cases your vehicle needs to be fixed, replaced or you’ll need a rental, so go to the folks who sold you the policy and get what you paid for.
The next step after reporting your claim to your insurance company is for you to call an experienced injury lawyer.
Often times adjusters will tell you they are willing to pay a certain amount and that amount will not change if you go to a lawyer. They want you to believe you will actually lose money if you hire an injury lawyer, so why not settle right away for more.
This is deceptive and quite frankly, it simply isn’t true.
I have always been able to negotiate for much more money than a lay person can get on their own—many times more.
Not only does speaking directly with the adjuster not help your situation, it could potentially harm your case. I cannot count the number of times an adjuster has taken my clients’ words out of context and twisted them to suit their own purposes.
The insurance adjuster is the big insurance company’s first line of defense. Their primary role is to save their company as much money as possible. Oftentimes, the person who has the power to authorize a large payout is further up the corporate food chain. If I don’t think the adjuster is being fair, I’ll take further legal action. Eventually I will get to speak with somebody with more authority so that my clients get paid a fair amount—not just some small figure, some insurance adjuster might want to pay to close the case quickly.
Here’s the problem. Most folks want to think the best of the people they are dealing with and want to try to resolve things privately. And although that is a good and nobel goal, the realities of the business make it difficult. For the mighty insurance industry it is all about profit, making money and saving money at the expense of injury victims whose lives have been disrupted and need financial help.
Remember these are trained professionals who might truly feel they are doing the right thing, but they are pawns of the industry. In the best case they are cheap because they look at claims from a different perspective, that of the industry that trained them pays their salary. In some cases, you will be dealing with people who are blatantly hardened and deceptive. In either event, you have nothing to gain by dealing with them yourself, especially before you seek your own legal advice.
It’s just plain smart to talk with an experienced injury lawyer, who has your best interests at heart, before you ever think of talking with the other guy’s insurance adjuster. I’ve represented many people who come to me after being betrayed by the adjuster who they thought would be fair to them.
So the insurance company wants to talk or meet? Kindly tell them you will be happy to have your lawyer call.
Take good care of yourself and call if you want to get together.