A question clients often ask is whether they should talk to the opposing driver’s insurance company after they have been injured in a car accident.
Obviously, it is critical that you get all of the other driver’s insurance information at the accident scene. You will want to get the driver’s name and contact information (address and telephone number). You will also need the other driver’s insurance company, policy number, and policy holder’s name (if applicable). Photos of the damage to vehicles and vehicle position is also a great idea.
Once you have this information in hand, there is no real reason for you to speak with an adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company, especially if you plan on contacting a car accident lawyer promptly (preferably within 24-48 hours of the accident). Bring the other driver’s information with you to your initial meeting with your attorney and let him/her begin the claim.
If you choose to report the claim to the opposing insurance company yourself, you should limit the information you share to a bare minimum. You can be confident in providing your name, address, and date of birth, (known as “indexing information”). However, you should avoid discussing your injuries and should give the adjuster a list of every area of your body where you are experiencing any symptoms, no matter how slight. You also can give the adjuster a brief summary of how the accident happened.
The risk in speaking with the opposing insurance company in any detail (remember the interview is almost always recorded so your words can be played back in court) is that the adjuster is always looking for any detail that could limit or even prevent your claim. In particular, adjusters are looking for inconsistencies in the description of how the accident took place or in the list of your injuries. For example, if you fail to mention an injury to a certain part of your body in your initial conversation with the opposing insurance company (either by omission or because you do not know the full extent of your injuries at the time of your conversation), they will be less likely to be willing to compensate for that injury if disclosed at some later time. This is because the insurance company now has the ability to claim that the non-disclosed injury was not sustained in the accident, but rather at some point afterwards.
We also never recommend signing authorizations which allow the opposing insurance company direct access to your medical records. We also strongly discourage giving a recorded statement to the opposing insurance company. There are some limited circumstances where a recorded statement could be helpful. You should discuss the issue with your attorney before agreeing to give a recorded statement to the opposing insurance company.
Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A. handles auto accidents throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. For more information on what to do after a car accident, please call one of our personal injury lawyers at (301) 220-2200.