According to the Pennsylvania courts, in 2021, over 13,000 personal injury and tort cases were filed in Philadelphia County alone. Thousands more were filed throughout the state that same year.
While each of these cases differs in several ways, the court’s statistics show that most settle without ever going to trial. And such settlements often occur because an insurance company agrees to compensate the injured victim in whole or in part.
When you have been hurt in a slip and fall accident, a car accident, or have suffered another personal injury, chances are high that the insurance company for the negligent party will contact you. Knowing what to say before they reach out can help you respond appropriately and protect your legal rights.
Why an Insurance Company Wants to Talk with You
One of the first steps you or your attorney will take following a personal injury in Pennsylvania is filing a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company. The insurance company has a contractual obligation to pay valid claims filed against the policy when the insured party is responsible for another’s injury.
For example, suppose that you are shopping at the grocery store and you slip and fall on a puddle created by a broken refrigerated display case. In such an instance, you would file a claim against the store’s insurance company seeking damages for your personal injury. If the insurer found that the store was liable, it would then pay your claim up to the limits of the policy.
Before an insurance company is willing to pay, though, it wants to know with some certainty that the claim is valid. Accomplishing this goal is the primary reason the insurance company will reach out to you. Through its adjuster, the company will want to obtain information from you to determine whether your claim should be paid as presented, paid in part, or denied entirely.
How to Talk to an Insurance Adjuster After a Personal Injury in Pennsylvania
You do not need to make contact with the insurance company after filing your claim. Instead, the company will reach out to you if they need any additional information. In most cases, they will make contact within a week or two of your accident claim submission.
The adjuster who contacts you should identify themselves and indicate that they work on behalf of the other party’s insurer.
The information you provide to the adjuster can be used to deny your claim, so you must be careful with what you say to them. Keep the following tips in mind when speaking with this adjuster.
If You Have an Attorney, Always Talk with Them First
If you have retained a lawyer after your personal injury, tell the adjuster that you would like to speak with them before answering any questions. The adjuster should allow you a short amount of time to confer with your attorney before they attempt to make contact again.
The adjuster may ask for the name and contact information of your attorney. It is safe to provide them with this information, as they may have questions that your lawyer can answer.
Be Aware that You May be Recorded
It is a common practice for adjusters to record a statement from you. They do this so they can review and scrutinize your statement later to use it as evidence against you if your case goes to trial. The adjuster should inform you at the outset of the call that they are recording the conversation. Whether you continue to talk with the adjuster beyond this point is your choice, but you do not need to give a recorded statement if you do not want to do so.
As an alternative to a recorded statement, you can inform the adjuster that you want a chance to speak with an attorney first. You can also opt to provide a written statement after it has been reviewed by your lawyer.
Avoid Admitting Fault or Discussing Potential Contributing Factors
If you do not have an attorney and you choose to talk with the adjuster, keep your conversation as short as possible. The adjuster may ask you how your personal injury happened; in your answer, you should only discuss the basic facts related to the topic. It is best to exclusively share details of the incident that you are absolutely certain occurred.
Avoid discussing any of the following, as these statements can make it more difficult for your claim to be approved:
- Any pre-existing conditions you may have
- Injuries you sustained or the prognosis of those injuries
- Physical limitations, such as poor eyesight or trouble balancing
- Any negligent act you may have committed, such as looking at your phone
- Information that is irrelevant to the accident or that you aren’t 100% certain about
The adjuster may request that you sign a release covering your medical records. Before you do this, it is extremely important for you to review this release with a qualified attorney.
In many cases, the releases allow the insurance company to access your complete medical history in addition to the records relating to your personal injury. If they have access to your complete medical file, the insurance company may be equipped with evidence they can use to reduce or deny your claim.
It Is Not Too Late to Get Experienced Help with Your Case
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a car accident, construction accident, or another personal injury in Pennsylvania, the help of an experienced personal injury law firm can make a difference in the outcome. Your attorney will guide you through the steps involved in filing an insurance claim or lawsuit and assist you in avoiding pitfalls that can hinder your recovery.
Contact the personal injury attorneys at Donaghue & Labrum today and request a free consultation to discuss your case and your legal needs.