Michigan Auto Accidents, Insurance Adjusters & the First Phone Call

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Michigan Car Accidents, Insurance Adjusters and the First Phone Call

So you’re involved in a Michigan car accident or truck accident.   You’ve contacted your insurance agent or the insurance company to let them know you have been injured or your car was damaged.  They then call back with follow up questions.  But what do you tell them?  This is a question I get asked quite often.

First you should know there are two types of insurance representatives, or insurance adjusters.  The first are No-Fault PIP (medical) adjusters.  They handle the payment of no-fault PIP benefits, such as medical expenses and wage loss benefits.  They are known as medical adjusters.  Often they are representatives from your own car insurance company.  The second type is bodily injury adjusters or BI adjusters.  They are usually representatives from the insurance company for the at-fault vehicle or person who caused the accident.  Usually they are handling the pain and suffering or negligence claim.

At the outset I would recommend that you never discuss your case with the bodily injury adjuster.  As stated below, they are not there to help you.  They are there only to minimize the value of your claim so they pay you as little as possible.  Contact a lawyer immediately if this type of insurance adjuster attempts to contact you after a car accident or truck accident.

Insurance adjusters contact car accident victims and their families pretty quickly after an accident occurs.  Very often they are attempting to get basic information, such as the amount of damage to the vehicle, where the accident occurred and if a police report was filed.  However, insurance adjusters are attempted to minimize their risk of loss from the very beginning.  By minimizing the risk of loss they are limiting what they will have to pay on a claim in the future.  To do this, insurance adjusters will attempt to get the accident victim to state that he or she was not that injured, didn’t require medical treatment immediately after the accident and/or doesn’t require treatment now, even if none of this is true.

Very often, they will ask for a recorded statement from the accident victim.    More scrupulous adjusters – and there are many out there – will ask very leading questions to accident victims to get them to say “on the record” they are not injured or their injuries are limited in scope.  This is unfortunate because many people with neck injuries or back injuries from a car accident or truck accident don’t feel the full extent of the pain from the accident until days or weeks after the accident.  This is very common for spinal related injuries.  A person may tell an adjuster at State Farm or Allstate two days after the accident they feel okay when in fact a few days later they cannot even get out of bed.  However, good luck explaining this discrepancy to the adjuster at some point in the future.

So when the insurance representative or insurance adjuster calls what do you tell them?  The following are some good rules of thumb:

  • First, ask what type of insurance adjuster are they.  If they are a medical adjuster, you may wish to talk to them but be careful what you say.  If they are a liability adjuster, don’t answer their questions and contact a lawyer immediately.
  • Tell the truth.  Don’t lie.  If nothing is wrong with your body and you don’t feel any pain, tell them that.
  • If you do feel pain and were injured from the car accident, tell the adjuster what pain you are feeling and where it hurts.  Let them know you are seeking or have sought medical treatment.
  • If they ask, tell them what medical facilities you have been to and that you plan on returning if things don’t improve.
  • If you are unsure of your exact diagnosis or ailment, tell them this but explain you are attempting to schedule an appointment with a medical professional to find out what exactly is ailing you.
  • If you are unable to return to your job, tell them this and let them know a doctor has disabled you from work.

Again, if you are unsure you should always contact a lawyer.  Even if representation is not needed, a few helpful hints can go a long way, especially after a car accident.