Every motorcyclist knows the risks inherent to riding. Yet, no matter how skilled you may be on a bike, some accidents cannot be avoided. Each and every year, thousands of motorcyclists are hit and injured by distracted, reckless, or otherwise negligent drivers. If you have been hurt in a Costa Mesa motorcycle accident that was not your fault, you likely expect that insurance will cover your losses.
But before you can complete a claim and collect compensation, you will almost certainly be contacted by an insurance adjuster. While you may be inclined to share your side of the story, saying too much to an adjuster can be dangerous, potentially ruining your chance of receiving a fair settlement.
What Insurance Adjusters Want in California
You may have to speak to an insurance adjuster after your motorcycle accident—but that does not mean you have to tell them everything they want to hear. In fact, you should exercise extreme caution when speaking to any insurance representative. Even if an adjuster tells you they have your best interest in mind, do not forget who they work for: the insurance company.
While the insurer may be obliged to pay for damages covered by a policy, adjusters represent a for-profit company that wants to protect its profits. You may be entitled to reimbursement, whether for motorcycle repairs or medical bills, but that does not mean an insurer’s settlement offer is going to be fair. In fact, insurance companies often offer low-ball settlements, hoping injured motorcyclists will not have a personal injury attorney to advocate on their behalf.
How to Talk to an Adjuster
You may have forgotten to contact your attorney right after an accident. Indeed, many people notify their insurance company of a crash before speaking to a lawyer.
If you have to speak to an adjuster on your own, remember:
- The adjuster is not on your side. Insurance companies make money from collecting premiums and then paying as little money as they can on valid claims. No matter how friendly the adjuster may seem, their duty is to their employer—not to you.
- The adjuster will use your words against you. An adjuster might tell you they need more information about your accident before they can proceed with your claim. However, they most likely have already done a preliminary investigation. Instead of trying to help reduce your liability, the adjuster is hoping you will admit partial fault or downplay the severity of your injuries. That way, the company can justify a lower settlement.
- Adjusters will use negotiation strategies. Even if you are in sales or work in claims yourself, you probably are not equipped to negotiate with an insurer. Adjusters know this, and they will say whatever they can to try and get you to accept minimal compensation.
- Keep things simple. If an adjuster wants to know what happened, provide a simple explanation: you were riding your motorcycle, and you were side-swiped by a vehicle or struck by someone who failed to yield. Do not speculate, and do not offer your theories on what contributed to the accident.
Whenever you are speaking to an insurance adjuster, do not give any more information than necessary. You may be pressured into divulging details that can compromise your case and make it seem as if you contributed to the accident, even if you were not at fault.
How Not to Talk to an Insurance Adjuster
You already know that you should say as little as possible to an adjuster: that means relaying simple facts and refusing to speculate about every possible cause of your accident and injuries.
However, you should also know what to avoid saying to an insurance adjuster. Under no circumstances should you:
- Apologize for the accident. Even if you were not at fault, it is natural to feel bad about an accident—especially if you or the other motorist was injured. Many people also feel guilty about giving their adjuster extra work. However, you should keep your feelings to yourself: if you say “sorry” to an insurance adjuster for any reason, they can interpret this as an admission of partial fault, thereby reducing your compensation.
- Speak or post publicly about the accident. You might be angry at the other driver or simply upset at the impact an accident has had on your life. You may, naturally, wish to vent to friends or make a post on social media. But beware: insurance adjusters are known to scour accident victims’ social media, looking for any evidence that you exaggerated a claim or may share liability for an accident.
- Provide a recorded statement. Never—under any circumstances—give an insurance adjuster a recorded statement without first speaking to a personal injury attorney. Once the insurance company has your words “on the record,” you will have a much harder time clearing up any discrepancies.
How an Attorney Can Help
An insurance company might offer you a settlement, but they may not be willing to budge on the amount. Many people feel they have no choice but to accept, especially if they need to pay for medical treatment or physical rehabilitation.
However, you do have options.
The last thing the insurance company wants you to do is to hire a personal injury attorney. After all, an attorney will not only help you collect evidence to bolster your claim but will also be intimately familiar with the adjuster’s tricks. They can challenge the company’s calculation formula, introduce evidence minimizing your liability, and negotiate for a better, fairer settlement.
Your attorney can also bring your claim to court and file a personal injury lawsuit against the other motorist to ensure you have the resources to recover.