Language:

5 Things You Should Not Say to a Car Insurance Adjuster

When you’re involved in a car wreck, are injured, or make a claim for property damage, the insurance company you make a claim against will put you in the capable hands of an insurance adjuster.

Not necessarily “good hands.” But very capable hands. Capable of doing everything the insurance company has trained them to do in their efforts to pay out as little money to you as possible.

Generally within a few days, you will get a call from a friendly-sounding voice wanting to “just get a bit of information…” or “hear your side of the story.”

Insurance companies need to make sure your story sounds plausible. And for good reason.

Why Is the Insurance Adjuster Calling You?

You can have more than one adjuster to deal with. Many insurance companies have specialty adjusters. Some adjusters only investigate. Some deal with injury. Others specialize in negotiating and speaking with attorneys. You may also deal with property damage adjusters who only handle vehicle damages. These types of adjusters may be further specialized. One could be the estimating adjuster and another might be the one who pays you for damages.

But all adjusters have one thing in common.

Adjusters work for the insurance company, and their job is to try to pay out as little as they can to keep their employer happy.

Listening Between the Lines

In the interest of full disclosure, I rarely, if ever, advise my clients to speak with an insurance adjuster for a recorded statement. I have found that, for the most part, these recorded statements have not been in the best interest of my clients – but have more to do with obtaining information that the insurance company could potentially use later to try to minimize payment or deny a claim altogether. All cases and facts are different, so it is important you talk with an experienced personal injury attorney before giving information to the insurance company.

But if you do happen to speak with a car insurance adjuster, you can be assured they are trained in active listening. It is important that what you say to them is true, factual, succinct, and not editorialized. Here are five things you shouldn’t say to an insurance adjuster:

1. “He came out of nowhere.”

We have former insurance adjusters on our staff who worked for insurance companies for many years before they came to us. They tell us the inside joke among adjusters is they want to know where Nowhere is. Claiming someone “came out of nowhere” may lead an adjuster to wonder if you were paying attention.

2. “He had to have been speeding.”

Another editorialized comment our former adjusters often heard “almost on a daily basis” was, “They had to have been speeding.” Usually this is in reference to pulling out from a stop sign or a green light. Those active listening skills kick in, causing the adjuster to question: if the other guy was speeding and they got so close to you, then why did you pull out? That screams you were not paying attention. The adjuster is taking detailed “notes to self” while you are offering damaging information without realizing it. Later, when negotiation time comes, these off-hand comments could come back to haunt you.

3. “The next thing you know they hit me.”

Different state laws also play a role in certain cases. If your state has contributory negligence laws, then if someone is able to show you are even 1% at fault, you may not get compensation. Let’s say the police report showed a clear cut liability issue with the other driver. Don’t inadvertently say something that might give the adjuster an opportunity to twist your words. “Well, I saw him in the intersection and the next thing you know he hit me.” You may have had the right of way, but if you saw the other car, you should have had time to stop or react. The police report may say you’re not at fault, but you likely just gave yourself contributory negligence by admitting to the adjuster that you were partially at fault. The adjuster can then deny liability and not pay your claim based on your statement.

4. “My light turned green so I just pulled off.”

Did you look left? Did you look right? That adjuster may very well deny your case because, without realizing it, you seemingly admitted you did not look before entering into the intersection. You may have had the last clear chance to avoid the collision.

5. “I was coming from a friend’s house.”

Seriously? There are a whole lot of “friends” who seem to enjoy having company until 4 a.m., judging from the number of times adjusters have heard that one. Don’t tell an insurance adjuster you were coming from a friend’s house, or any other place, if you were not actually coming from there.

First of all, when you speak with an adjuster or any insurance representative, you want to be credible and honest in all your answers. Not only is it the right thing to do, but your credibility can be a powerful weapon in your defense – especially if you have to go to court.

Adjusters have ways of getting at the truth when they think you are not being truthful. They may follow up with more questions: “How long were you at your friend’s house? What were you doing? Had you been drinking? How many beers did you have?” These are just for starters. What do insurance adjusters look for when asking these questions? Possible proof you were partially negligent for the car accident injury you suffered.

We Can Help You Give Your Statement to the Adjuster

As I said, I almost always advise my clients against giving a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster because I have found it can do more harm to the client.

Yet some come to us after they have already given a statement. There are so many ways we’ve seen innocent car wreck victims hurt their case by talking to an insurance adjuster without realizing how some of their statements may be misinterpreted.

We can help you prepare to speak truthfully about your car accident, but in ways that will not inadvertently harm your case. If we feel a recorded statement is in your best interest, we can be on the call with you to try to make sure the adjuster does not take advantage or twist your words. If a written statement about the events of your car wreck is the best option, we can coordinate with you to come up with something that helps protect your rights.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From Our Car Wreck Attorneys

If you or someone you care about was injured in a car wreck and an adjuster wants to “just get a bit more information,” contact an experienced car wreck lawyer before giving any statement. You don’t want to say anything that may damage your case before getting a professional evaluation.

Contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

Kids Can Suffer Heat Stroke in a Hot Car in 10 Minutes. Here’s What to Know.

All of us know what it’s like to experience a hot car. The leather exterior of the steering can sometimes be too hot to touch and the stifling hot air makes it difficult to breathe. After just a few minutes, your heart rate begins to rise as your body tries to cool itself down.

Most of us wouldn’t sit in a hot car for more than a few minutes before turning the air conditioning on. But what if you were stuck in your car on a 90-degree day and you weren’t able to turn on the air conditioning? What if you were a child strapped into a car seat? Helpless.

baby's crying faceNationwide approximately 37 children die by overheating in cars every year. North Carolina ranks number 6 in the country since 1991 for hot car deaths, according to data from kidsandcars.org, an organization that advocates for stronger car safety measures for children.

I am a mom of a young child, and these statistics break my heart. Children cannot defend themselves against high temperatures like adults – their body temperature climbs three to five times faster. Even cool days can pose a threat. Every 10-20 minutes, the internal temperature of a car can rise 20 degrees.

Children have died in cars when the outside temperature was as low as 60 degrees.

Cracking the Windows Doesn’t Help

Some people believe that opening the windows will keep their child from overheating, but Kidsandcars.org asserts that lowering the windows does not help.

It is extremely important to make sure you always take your child out of the car with you, no matter how quick your errand may be.

As a busy single working mom, I certainly understand how some parents might think, “I’ll just run in and run out of the drugstore and it will only take a few minutes.” We’re busy and in a rush, and taking a child out of a car seat and putting him back in again can take time. Especially if the child is unwilling or sleeping.

Call 911 if a Child is Unattended in a Car

If you see a child left unattended in a car, take action right away by calling 911. If you notice signs of heat stroke, let the 911 operator know you plan to break the window to help the child cool down.

Signs of Heat Stroke

If you notice any of these signs, prompt action is in order.

  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness
  • Seizure
  • Hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Hallucinations

How to Rescue a Child From a Hot Car

Check out this video from the Today Show that shows exactly how to rescue a child (or a pet for that matter) out of a hot car. It’s good info to know.

Half of Child Deaths in Overheated Cars Occur Because Someone Forgot

Most child deaths occur when parents unintentionally leave their infant in the car. Many parents are quick to assume that they would never “forget” their child in the backseat. But parents do forget. Parents of every background have forgotten their child in their car – it has happened to social workers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, soldiers.

52% of heatstroke deaths in cars occur because someone forgot a child was in the car.

As a parent, you’re probably used to a fast-paced and strict schedule. Some days, it may feel like you’re on autopilot – you’re so used to a particular routine that you don’t even consciously think about it. Any sudden new tasks can be difficult to remember to incorporate into your day. For instance, if you’re used to waking up and driving straight to work every morning, it may be easy to forget to drop off your child at daycare. These tragedies often happen during busy times – especially around holidays or schedule changes when parents are stressed and fatigued and forget more easily.

4 Ways to Remember Your Child Is in the Car

While it’s difficult to prevent stress and fatigue, there are several ways to help remember your child in the backseat:

  1. Put something you need (like your purse, employee ID, or cell phone) in the backseat next to your child, so that you’ll have to open the back door in order to grab it.
  2. Use drive thru services when available.
  3. Always keep your vehicles locked – even when they are sitting in your garage – so that your child can’t sneak inside and accidentally lock themselves in.
  4. A free app called Kars4Kids Safety is designed to act as an alert system for parents. A customizable alarm rings on your phone when you exit the car to remind you that your child is still inside!

Let’s spread awareness along with these helpful tips in order to try to ensure our children’s safety.

P.S. Your furry friends are at risk, too. Leaving your pet in a hot car can be extremely dangerous and have deadly consequences – animals may suffer heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes. Dogs are only able to cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paw pads, making them especially vulnerable in hot weather. If you’re running errands, it may be best to leave your pets at home.  

 

Things Aging Drivers Can Do to Keep Going

There is a group of drivers on our roadways whose hazardous habits are projected to worsen as they increase a by whopping 73% by 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

They’re out of control. Driving while distracted. Driving while impaired. Driving in conditions they shouldn’t be. Not obeying speed limits. And many admit to having taken drugs before getting behind the wheel!

These senior citizens today!

Elderly Drivers Cause More Deadly Crashes Than Teens

The reality is that deaths from senior drivers (85 and older) are four times higher than that of teen drivers, according to a Carnegie Mellon University and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.

Based on data obtained from 1999–2004, fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after age 65. From ages 75 to 84, the death rate equals that of teen drivers. After age 85 is where we see fatality rates accelerate. For drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate increases to nearly four times that for teens.

Why Do Seniors Pose Such a Roadway Threat?

As they age, senior drivers may experience many conditions that may cause them to drive at a slow pace. They may suffer from arthritis and stiff joints and weakening muscles, making it harder to turn their heads and reducing the amount of pressure they can apply to the gas pedal. You might think that driving at a slow pace would be safer. That’s not necessarily the case.

According to Essurance.com people who drive slower than normal, in the left lane for example, may cause you to have to pass on the right. This could lead to confusion and disorganization which can potentially cause an accident.

Catching up to a slow driver creates dangers even in residential areas, if you have to suddenly stop. This could start a chain reaction of braking that could lead to accidents or road rage.

Vision Decline

A natural age-related decline in vision may make it harder to see people, objects, and areas in the peripheral vision. For some it can take longer to read street or traffic signs and recognize places, even familiar ones. Decline in night vision is particularly common among the elderly and headlight glare or street lights can pose a challenge. For some, the sun might become especially blinding at certain times of day. Medicines can also cause vision problems as can the onset of glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Hearing Decline

As you get older it can become harder to hear horns and sirens and even noises coming from your car potentially alerting you that something is wrong and you may need to pull over.

Slower Reflexes

As people age reflexes might become slower and you may have a shorter attention span. This might make it harder to multitask. Stiff joints or weak muscles also can make it harder to move quickly.

Eventually all of us age – unless, well the alternative happens. I’ll take aging thank you. Especially as today, there are a number of ways to try to overcome some of the problems many seniors experience on the road.

Here are some things from the National Institute on Aging to keep in mind as we age to try to keep yourself and others safer around you.

Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

  1. Did you know that there are driving rehabilitation specialists available that will check your driving skills? Occupational therapists can do the same. Who knows, you may get an all clear.
  2. Some car insurance companies may lower your bill if you take and pass a driver improvement course. Here are two resources to find driver courses near you through AAA and AARP. You can also check with your car insurance company.
  3. Remember when in doubt, don’t go out. Never try to drive in inclement weather that makes you feel uncomfortable like rain or snow. Wait it out or use public transportation or a driver service, such as Uber, Lyft, or even a taxi.
  4. Avoid highways or other high-speed roadways if you don’t feel confident using them.
  5. If you take medications, ask your health care provider if it is safe to drive while taking them.

How to Stay Mobile and Keep Your Freedom

Rightfully, many seniors worry that once they stop driving, they’re homebound. But communities across the nation are offering more of a variety of ways to get around without having to drive. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Free or inexpensive bus or taxi services for seniors
  • Carpool services for doctor’s visits, grocery shopping, the mall, hair appointments
  • Many religious and community service groups have volunteers on call who can drive you where you need to go
  • Car or driver services. (Remember, when you’re not paying for car insurance, maintenance, gas and other auto incidentals, this could end up being even cheaper than owning a car.)
  • Pay friends or family members to take you places. It could be the beginning of more meaningful relationships.


To find transportation services in your area call 1-800-677-1116, or visit eldercare.acl.gov to find your nearest Area Agency on Aging.