What Should I Not Tell My Insurance Company After an Accident?

June 18, 2024

You’ve just been in a car accident. Your heart is racing, your mind is reeling. A million thoughts rush through your head as you process what happened. Is everyone okay? How bad is the damage to the cars? Whose fault was it? What do you do now?

After the initial shock subsides, one of your first instincts will likely be to call your insurance company to report the accident and start the claims process. This is an important step. However, watch what you say (and don’t say) to the insurance adjuster if you want to protect your legal rights and your potential claim.

Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, the insurance company (even your own) is not on your side. They aim to limit their financial exposure and pay out as little as possible on claims. Anything you say to them they will use against you later to reduce or deny your claim.

So, what should you not tell your insurance company after an accident? Read on to learn some key things to avoid. Your best course of action is to first contact an experienced car accident attorney near you for advice and guidance on what to do following a car accident and what not to say to the insurance company or anyone else.

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Don’t Admit Blame

After an accident, never admit fault or apologize, even if you think you might share blame. You may not know about all of the factors in your accident, and the law allows for shared fault in many cases.

Let the evidence and facts determine fault, not your heat-of-the-moment statement to the insurance company that “I’m so sorry, I didn’t see them coming!”

An insurer can twist even seemingly innocent statements like “I should have been paying more attention” or “I feel terrible this happened” into an admission of fault and deny your claim. Stick to the basic objective facts of what happened without accepting any blame or speculating about fault.

Don’t Offer Your Opinion

Similar to not admitting fault, don’t offer your opinions or perspective on what caused the crash or who is responsible. “That guy was totally speeding” or “The light had just turned yellow when I went through” may feel true to you. However, stating opinions and conclusions as fact can come back to undermine your credibility or be used against you.

If anyone asks questions that call for opinion or speculation, it’s best to simply say “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure.” You are not an expert crash investigator or witness. Let the evidence speak for itself without muddying the waters with your subjective take.

Don’t Speculate About Your Injuries

When you report the accident to insurance, they may ask if you were injured and how badly. Don’t downplay or speculate about your injuries. Some injuries, like concussions, soft tissue damage, and whiplash, may not be apparent right away and can take days or weeks to manifest symptoms.

If you’re feeling any pain or discomfort after an accident, honestly say that without going into details: “I’m feeling neck and back pain, and I need to see a doctor to diagnose the extent of it.”

Don’t say “I’m fine” or “It’s just a little soreness, I’m sure it will go away.”

You may be more injured than you realize, and the insurance company or other driver’s lawyer can use those statements against you later to argue your injuries aren’t that serious if you pursue a claim.

Don’t Admit to Drinking or Using Drugs

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law. Even if you had one drink with dinner hours before the accident or took prescribed medication, don’t admit this to the insurance company or anyone else.

The insurance company could argue you were impaired and caused the crash.

You are under no obligation to discuss alcohol or medications with them and doing so will never help your case. If they press the issue, tell them you can’t discuss it without speaking to an attorney first.

Don’t Give Info About Family or Friends

Insurance adjusters may try to pry into your personal life in their quest for information.

They might ask about your family dynamics, your social circle, or your daily routines. While these questions may seem innocuous, they can be fishing expeditions designed to uncover information that the insurance company can use against you.

For example, suppose you mention that your best friend was in the car with you at the time of the accident. The adjuster may try to contact them and pressure them into giving a statement that contradicts yours.

Also, if you discuss your busy schedule juggling work and family obligations, the insurer might argue that you were distracted or fatigued behind the wheel.

Protect your privacy and the privacy of your loved ones. Politely decline to discuss anything beyond the essential details of the accident itself. Your personal life is not relevant to the claims process.

Don’t Provide a Recorded Statement

Insurance adjusters routinely ask claimants for a recorded statement, claiming they need it to process your claim. This trap intends to get you on record saying things that limit their liability before you understand the full extent of your injuries and damages. The insurer can ask leading questions and twist your words.

You are not obligated to give a recorded statement and should decline until you consult an attorney. Provide the basic facts in writing and tell them that further discussions about the accident or your claim must go through your lawyer.

Don’t Discuss Your Medical History or Pre-Existing Conditions

After an accident, insurance companies will look for any reason to deny your claim by arguing your injuries and medical treatment were due to pre-existing conditions unrelated to the crash.

If you volunteer details of your medical history, past injuries, chronic pain, etc, they will use it against you.

The only medical information they need to know is the injuries and symptoms you experienced because of this accident and the treatment you received for them.

Decline to provide them access to your broader medical records or answer questions about your medical history and prior injuries/conditions. Refer them to your lawyer for those discussions.

Don’t Accept the Initial Settlement Offer

Once an insurance company has some information about your claim, they will often make a quick, lowball settlement offer in hopes of resolving your claim cheaply before you consult a lawyer or realize the full extent of your damages. This initial offer is almost always far below the true value of your claim.

If you accept it, you waive your right to pursue any additional compensation later on if your injuries are more extensive and costly than you thought. Don’t be tempted to take the quick money. Be very wary of signing anything they put before you without having your attorney review it first.

Once you accept a settlement offer and sign a release, you can’t go back and try to get additional compensation if you later discover additional damages. That’s why it’s critical to carefully evaluate any offers with the guidance of an experienced car accident lawyer looking out for your interests, not the insurance company’s.

Your lawyer can assess the true value of your claim, considering medical needs, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering. They can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to secure a fair settlement that meets your long-term needs.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Right Away

You will encounter many pitfalls and traps in dealing with insurance companies after an accident, even when it seems like a straightforward claim where the other driver is clearly at fault. One wrong statement or hastily accepted lowball offer can undermine your entire claim.

The experienced car accident attorneys at Grife Law Firm know all the tactics insurance companies use to reduce and deny claims. We can protect you from falling victim to them. We can handle all the paperwork, phone calls, and negotiations with insurers so you can focus on your physical recovery.

Most importantly, a knowledgeable attorney from our firm will fully investigate your case, gather all the evidence of the other driver’s fault, document the full extent of your injuries, expenses, and damages, and fight to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.

Don’t navigate this stressful process alone or risk receiving an unfair settlement. Contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Grife Law Firm immediately for a free consultation. We’ll review the details of your case, advise you of your legal rights and options, and handle every aspect of your claim.