When you have been in a car accident that involves damage, injuries, and insurance claims, you can count on being contacted by the insurance company for the other driver pretty quickly, especially if the other driver has been assigned a majority of the fault for the crash. It is important to understand that you are under no legal obligation to talk to them and that, in fact, doing so could potentially hurt your claim for damages.
Comparative Fault in Indiana
One thing the insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver is likely trying to do by contacting you is to get you to admit some degree of responsibility—or at least some doubt as to the cause—so that blame will be shared. Indiana follows a comparative negligence law for car accidents, which means that fault can either be assigned 100 percent to one driver or can be shared between the drivers involved. When fault is shared, liability for compensation is also shared by the same percentage amount. For example, if you are assigned 25 percent of the fault, the amount of compensation you can get from the other driver’s insurance company is reduced by 25 percent. The insurance adjuster will want to pass at least part of the blame on to you as it will save his company money—potentially a significant amount of money.
How Indiana Insurance Adjusters Get You to Admit Fault
Even if you are confident that you played no part in the cause of the crash, an experienced adjuster can ask the right questions and twist your words in ways that could cast doubt on who is responsible. When you are contacted by the other insurance company, keep the following tips in mind:
Identify the person who is contacting you. Before answering any questions, get the name, number, and employer of the person calling and ask the name of the person he or she is representing.
Give only limited personal information. You may give the adjuster your name, address, and telephone number and, if he asks, basic employment information, but do not offer additional information and do not give any more personal details.
Do not give any details about your injuries. The adjuster will want to know how serious your injuries are. Do not answer any questions about injuries. You may not yet know how serious your injuries are and you may leave out a detail that he will bring up later to deny your claim.
Do not give any details about the accident. The main reason for the call is to try to pass the blame on to you. Do not answer any questions about the accident. Even an innocent comment such as that you were running late or feeling tired could arouse suspicion. Simply refuse to give any information about the accident.
Do not accept a settlement offer. If the adjuster seems friendly and polite and offers you a quick settlement, it is probably because he knows you can get more. Never accept the first offer, no matter what the adjuster tells you.
Do not allow yourself to be recorded. Recorded statements often come back to haunt car accident victims. In the confusion of the interview, you may misspeak or your understanding of what happened may later change. You do not want a recording to be played back that contradicts what you say later.