Should I talk to the at-fault party's insurance company?

We recommend that you not speak to the at-fault party’s insurance company unless you have first spoken to an attorney. Even if these insurance companies have advertised themselves on TV as being virtuous and kind, and even if the person on the phone sounds friendly, beware. Insurance companies make more money the less they pay in claims. These friendly adjusters are well-trained investigators seeking to obtain information that may be damaging to your case.

The adjuster may tell you that you have to give a recorded statement to them. This is false. It is not recommended that you give any recorded statement without the advice or presence of an attorney.

The adjuster may tell you that you must sign a release allowing them to obtain your medical records. While it is true that any insurance company will need to review relevant medical records in order to evaluate your injuries, it is not true that the insurance company is entitled to review irrelevant private medical records. Typically, the release the insurance company will try to get you to sign is overly broad and authorizes them to invade your privacy. Experienced attorneys in our office will know what the insurance company is and is not entitled to, and can modify any release to protect your right to privacy.

Another practice frequently employed by insurance companies is the premature offer of settlement. The adjuster will portray this ploy as providing excellent and prompt customer service, and a willingness to compensate you for your injuries. What is in fact happening is that the adjuster is trying to resolve your case for a small amount and have you sign away your rights before you are fully aware of the nature and extent of your injuries and before you are aware of what you are entitled to under the law. They are also trying to keep you from hiring an attorney, because they know your case will likely be worth more once you do so.

Beware of any offer of settlement made prior to the completion of your medical treatment. Insurance companies know that a certain percentage of injuries do not fully resolve and that a certain percentage of people end up with permanent problems, sometimes requiring surgery and sometimes preventing them from returning to work. If you settle your case early for an amount you think is reasonable, and later learn that your injuries were worse than you expected, you will not be able to come back to the insurance company for more money. That is why it is never a good idea to settle before you 1) have all the facts about your injuries, 2) have an opinion from your doctor about what the future will hold for you, 3) have discussed your case with an experienced attorney.