It is not difficult to get into a traffic accident here in Florida. In 2016, more than 395,000 traffic collisions were reported in this state.

As West Palm Beach car accident attorneys, we know that if you are involved in a vehicle accident here in south Florida, you can expect that an insurance adjuster who represents the other driver’s insurance company will start trying to contact you and ask you some questions.

WHAT ARE THE BASIC GUIDELINES FOR A FIRST TALK WITH AN ADJUSTER?

Keep reading for some recommendations about what you should say – and what you should not say – in that first conversation with an insurance adjuster. The basic guidelines for that conversation are:

1. Stay polite and calm.
2. Get the name of the person you are speaking with.
3. Provide minimal personal information.
4. Provide no details regarding the collision or your injuries.
5. Take comprehensive notes.
6. Resist the temptation to accept a quick settlement offer.

It is important to remain polite and calm with the insurance adjuster during that first conversation. You may be angry about the accident – maybe even rightfully angry – but do not take it out on the insurance adjuster.

WHY SHOULD YOU TRY TO CREATE GOOD WILL?

In fact, creating good will with the insurance adjuster, and doing it early, could pay off for you. A good attitude may even induce the adjuster to trust you, believe your side of the story, and expedite your settlement.

But before any of that can happen – and at the very beginning of the conversation – ask for the name, title, company, company address, and telephone number of whomever you are speaking with.

The only items an insurance adjuster will need from you in your first discussion is your name, address, and phone number. If you’re asked, you can also tell the adjuster where you are employed and how long you’ve worked there.

Politely decline to provide any further details about your family, your income, or any other personal information.

WHAT IF YOU’RE ASKED FOR A STATEMENT?

An insurance adjuster may ask you to provide a “statement” regarding how the collision occurred. Some adjusters may try to “lull” you into a casual conversation, hoping that you will accidentally reveal something about the accident.

Politely decline to talk about any details of the accident other than the known facts: who, where, when, and the types of vehicles involved.

In this first conversation, tell an insurance adjuster that you are not prepared to discuss details now but will do so “when it is appropriate.”

WHAT IF YOU’RE ASKED ABOUT YOUR INJURY?

If you’ve been injured, you or your injury attorney will describe the accident in detail when you submit an injury claim and demand compensation for your personal injury or injuries.

In the first conversation, you can say, “I’ve been injured,” but you should not provide an insurance adjuster with any details about your medical diagnosis or prognosis, either. At this early stage:

1. Any discussion could leave out key details.
2. You may discover a latent injury days or even weeks later.
3. The full extent of your injury may not yet be apparent.

During your first conversation with the insurance adjuster and immediately after, take notes and write down every important detail and everything else you can remember from the discussion.

WHY NOT ACCEPT A QUICK SETTLEMENT – AND GET IT OVER WITH?

It is not uncommon for an insurance company to make a settlement offer the very first time the company contacts you. Do not accept it. A first settlement offer is almost always for a figure far below what your injury claim is actually worth.

Moreover, you probably will not even know the full extent of your injuries and damages when you first speak to an adjuster.

A quick, “low-ball” settlement can save an insurance company a great deal of work and a considerable amount of money. It can also be quite tempting to have the entire matter quickly resolved and put behind you.

Resist that temptation. When you sign settlement papers, you also sign away your right to take any further legal action or to seek any additional compensation.

Allow the entire claims process to unfold, and if you have been injured, get an accident attorney’s help. Patience almost always pays off for those making personal injury claims.

WHY SHOULD YOU SET “BOUNDARIES” WITH AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER?

In your initial discussion with the insurance adjuster, politely explain that you simply will not talk about the details of your claim over the telephone, and establish some boundaries for future discussions.

It’s good to establish boundaries early. Some companies and some insurance adjusters can very quickly become nuisances, constantly calling to cajole or intimidate you into accepting a quick, low-ball settlement.

More importantly, until you know the full extent of your damages, and until you obtain the advice and guidance of a good personal injury lawyer, you really are not prepared to discuss the case.

If you provide an insurance adjuster with any information that is inaccurate or incomplete, the insurance company conceivably could use that information against you and try to “hold you to it.”

Never give an adjuster permission to record you in a telephone conversation, and politely decline any invitation to make an audio or video recording. You are not legally obligated to provide any recorded statement to an insurance company, and you may not be recorded without your consent.

HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP YOU?

It is best when you can tell an insurance company simply to take all of their questions to your attorney.

After you have received medical treatment, the most important thing to do after you’ve been injured in a south Florida traffic accident is to take your case – without delay – to an accident attorney.

A personal injury lawyer is a trained and experienced negotiator who routinely negotiates with insurance companies on behalf of clients.

Your attorney knows how the insurance companies operate and knows what it will take to win the compensation amount you need and deserve after you have been injured by someone else’s negligence.

AFTER A SERIOUS ACCIDENT, WHAT SHOULD BE YOUR MAIN FOCUS?

After a serious accident, you need to be focused on recovering your health – and not on a dispute with an insurance company.

If you are injured – or if you are injured in the future by a negligent driver in a south Florida traffic collision – let an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney handle your case from the very beginning. You have that right.