Bellingham car accident victims take heed: what you say can and will be used against you in your accident claim
Here's another way insurance adjusters approach your Bellingham car accident claim that can make or break a fair settlement for you. Again, remember that the adjuster is a direct or contracted employee of the insurance company you’re hoping will pay you for your injuries and losses. Also, that company's customer is the person who caused your accident (also called the "at-fault party"), if you are the victim. It nearly never occurs that you will hear the adjuster handling your case admit that their insured customer is the one liable for the collision. If they were to admit liability, that could mean a much bigger payout than they would like to pay.
So the adjuster won’t admit liability even if their customer is the one liable. Is that the worst of it? Unfortunately, they may take it a step further and try to get you to admit that you were at least partially at fault. If they do this successfully, it could further reduce your payout. Adjusters might try to have a conversation where they ask quite sympathetically, “I realize that the other car ran a red light and hit you. But what could you have done to avoid the accident?” It’s an innocent-sounding question, but imagine the implications. Let’s say you sheepishly answer, “Well, I was glancing at my phone at a text at that moment, but didn’t think it would be a big deal since I had a green light.” Well, you would be admitting to partial fault because driving while using an electronic device is illegal in Washington, and many other states. An adjuster might even mention something like, “I heard that it was rainy on the day of your accident.” That could shoulder some of the responsibility onto the weather, which their client is of course not responsible for. If you agree this was a factor, that could reduce your claim.
These seem like innocent questions, or even merely conversational, since anyone will talk about the weather. But please understand that anything you say – or sign – in a car accident claims process is going to count. This is why it is a good idea to talk with a skilled, experienced personal injury lawyer before you start negotiating with an insurance adjuster. Your lawyer and team will handle these questions on your behalf, or coach you on how to answer so that you do not inadvertently damage your claim. And any conversation with an insurance adjuster is essentially a negotiation about your claim's payout.