What Can I Expect When Dealing With The Claims Adjuster In My Personal Injury Case? Will They Speak With Me Directly Or Do They Have To Go Through My Attorney?
Until you have a lawyer, its just you and the claims adjuster. Until you have a lawyer, they have no one else to speak to other than you. Until you tell them that you have hired a lawyer or intend to hire a lawyer, you’re it. If you intend to pursue the claim, you have placed yourself in a position where you are the one who has to give them the information they need to process your claim. You need to respond to at least some of their questions. You need to give them medical bills and tell them what happened. They’ll probably want a recorded statement from you. Therefore, has to be direct contact with you in dealing with the insurance company. Once you hire a lawyer, they are prohibited from dealing directly with you. That’s important because you need to speak to the insurance company with one voice, either your voice or your lawyer’s voice – but not both. You don’t want to put yourself at odds with your lawyer and tell the insurance company one thing while your lawyer’s busy protecting your rights saying something else.
Can The Insurance Company Or Adjuster Record Me Without My Knowledge? What Are Some Other Things I Should Be Watching Out For When It Comes To Interacting With A Claims Adjuster?
Insurance companies and claims adjusters can record you. They normally do record you. When you call an insurance company, you’ll typically hear a recording that includes language such as, “This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.” That’s placing you on notice that they can and will record your call. If they call you, before they can record the call, must to tell you that they’re recording you. They must ask for your permission. If you give them permission, they’re free to record you. If you do not give them permission, they may still record, but it would be against the law. In California, it is a crime to record one side of a phone conversation without letting the other side know and obtaining consent. A lot of clients come to me and tell me that they recorded conversations with the other party after a collision. Even though they may feel that their recording has some damaging admissions that will help them, I have to tell them that what they did is a crime. The recording cannot be used for any purpose, unless they gave the other party notice and received consent to record the call.
When you are dealing with a claims representative, look for honest responses to your questions to them – responses that make sense to you. A lot of what happens, at least in the beginning, is common sense. Asking questions will allow you to determine if the insurance claims representative is dealing with you in an honest manner. For example, in a property damage claim, you’re entitled to have your property damage repaired at any shop you want. If the insurance company tries to steer you to a shop that they control, or want you to go to, there’s a reason for that. Ask them why? Will they tell you that you can have your car repaired at any shop of your choosing? If not, they are not giving you the truth. Typically, they want you to go to their shop because they get it done at a discount. In other words, they feed business to a given shop providing a volume of steady business for that repair shop. In exchange, that shop does work the insurance company at a lower price. Don’t worry. You shouldn’t be concerned about the cost of repair. Your concern should be whether the repair is going to be done right. Accordingly, you have the right to select whatever shop you want in California.
If your car is a total loss, you’re going to get an offer from an insurance company, assuming they accept responsibility for the collision. However, how do you know that they’re not undervaluing your car? You’ll need to do a little bit of homework. You can go online and do a little research to get an idea of the fair market value of your car. For example, you can visit edmunds.com or Kelley Blue Book. That way, when an insurance company makes you an offer, you’ll have some sense of whether or not they’re in the ballpark and treating you fairly. I’ve seen lots of insurance company evaluations where the do a market survey, but didn’t use cars similar to my clients’ vehicle. They often use lower value models, which makes a huge difference in the amount they pay you. Does their offer to you seem fair and accurate to you? You’re also entitled to a rental car in a collision while your car is not drivable, until it is repaired or until they pay you for the replacement value in the event of a total loss. When talking to the claims representative, pay attention. Did they tell you that you’re entitled to money for a rental car? Did they tell you that you’re entitled to money for the loss of use of your car, even if you don’t rent a car? The chances are that they’re not going to tell you that information. These are things that you have to listen for to see if they’re being honest and fair with you.
If your car was badly damaged, if it suffered frame damage, even though it was repaired, it may actually be worth less money when you go sell it later on or turn it in at the end of a lease. If it’s a leased car, you may be surcharged by the leasing company when you turn in the car. It’s called diminution of value. Did the insurance company explore that with you at all? If you mentioned it to them, did they deny it? They typically deny it or refuse to pay it, but that’s wrong because you are entitled to diminution of value when the value of your car has been reduced, even though it was repaired afterwards.
Finally, its expensive and a hardship to pay medical bills or even co-pays and deductibles while you are getting medical care. Ask the claims representative if they will help pay your medical bills as you incur them. Will they help you out with the out-of-pocket expenses like copays or deductibles? If they are liable for your damages, if they accept that you were hurt, and that you need medical care, they should be willing to advance a little money for these necessary out-of-pocket expenses, shouldn’t they? However, they will tell you that they cannot make advances. If they tell you that, they’re not telling you the truth. The fact is that they can. Easily. They know they owe it to you, right? The reality is that they don’t want to advance money to you because they want you to be in some financial distress. They know that you will be more anxious to settle because of the economic hardship that you are suffering. To the insurance company mentality, that makes it easier for them to push a low settlement on you because you need the money. They want to keep you a little bit desperate. It makes it easier to settle cases for less money.
These are a few questions that can help you test an insurance company to see if they are being fair and straight with you. It can show you whether they’re people that you can comfortably deal with. If you feel they’re being dishonest with you, you should consider getting a lawyer.
For more information on Personal Injury Insurance Laws In California, a personalized consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (818) 530-1770 today.