Insurance companies tend to want as much information as you are willing to provide after an accident, but that’s the crux—you must be willing to provide it.
While you are required to report an accident to your insurance company, you do not have to give every detail. Moreover, you can take time to understand your situation, injuries, and legal rights before committing to anything, including a recorded statement.
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What to Say and What Not to Say
You may be wondering which way is best when discussing your accident with an insurance company. First, tell the truth. You don’t know yet who was more at fault. You may be afraid of your insurance premiums going up, but resist the instinct to tell white lies. You may even say something you firmly believe is true, only for the insurance company to claim the evidence doesn’t support it.
The best way to avoid even the appearance of falsehood or “he said, she said” finger-pointing is to say as little as possible. Provide the insurance company with the basic details, such as:
- All parties’ contact information
- Car make and model
- The date, time, and location of the incident
This is sufficient to report the accident. The insurance company may ask for more details or a recorded statement. Despite the impression that this is a standard procedure and even required, you are not obligated to give them any more information beyond that.
When in Doubt, Don’t Say Anything
Some people attempt to give more information out of an instinct to appear helpful, hoping that will underline that they weren’t at fault. In reality, anything you say can be used against you to undervalue or outright deny your claim.
It is especially important to avoid talking about:
- The injuries that either party sustained
- Your suspicions of fault
- Your actions before the crash
- Apologies or regrets
- Assumptions or impressions
If you aren’t sure of an answer to a question, don’t commit to one, even if pressured—and you may be pressured.
You Have a Right to Take Time and Seek Help
After car accidents occur, Florida law requires a police officer to submit a traffic crash report within 10 days, per Florida Statutes §316.066. If the police need that much time to investigate an accident, why should you be expected to give a full, recorded statement immediately after your crash, filled with details that may dictate your access to compensation?
Moreover, Florida’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is four years from the accident, per Florida Statutes §95.11 (3)(a). That period is not arbitrary, but it allows lawyers to investigate, compile evidence, and understand your medical condition. You do not need to have all the answers in the first days after your crash.
Car accidents are chaotic, confusing, and overwhelming. You can pause to get professional help from doctors and lawyers before providing an official statement.
Why You Should Be Careful About What You Say
Insurance companies are businesses, and as businesses, they have priorities beyond your well-being. In fact, the goal of a claims adjuster is to:
- Close the claim quickly
- Avoid liability
- Pay as little as possible
- Shift blame to other parties involved in an accident
Unfortunately, even if the other driver was at fault, you could be accused of causing the accident, not taking adequate precautions, misrepresenting events, or exaggerating your injuries.
Beware of Offers That Seem Too Good to Pass Up
One way for an adjuster to close a claim quickly and pay very little is to offer a settlement early on. Pay attention if:
- It seems like the settlement must be accepted immediately.
- The amount is said to be “typical” for cases like yours.
- You are asked to agree verbally before seeing any paperwork.
- You aren’t sure what your expenses are yet.
These should give you pause because:
- You can consider and negotiate an offer before settling.
- Every case is different, and there is no “typical” settlement amount.
- You have a right to review any paperwork that may restrict your ability to pursue compensation later.
- The full extent of your injuries and losses may exceed the settlement.
Just as you are not obligated to give out more details than you find comfortable, you are also not obligated to accept any settlement offers on the spot. Knowing the full value of your case may require consulting doctors, actuaries, and other experts, especially regarding future expenses.
The bottom line is insurance companies will try to undervalue your claim. Contact a car accident injury lawyer’s office as soon as possible following your crash. Our team can act as an intermediary, knowing what to say and when, reviewing all paperwork, and counseling you on what you really deserve in a settlement.
If You Are Worried about Talking to an Insurance Company, Call Us Now
At the Law Offices of Anidjar Levine, we pride ourselves on our responsiveness. Reach out to us today so that we can answer your questions, review your settlement offers, and advise you on how to discuss your car accident with an insurance company.
In fact, we can do the talking for you while you focus on recovery. Call us today.