If you were in and accident that wasn’t your fault and you have injuries, be prepared to be contacted by the other driver’s insurance company. But proceed with caution. Claim representatives for insurance companies are professionals who are experts at what they do. It’s a claims representative’s job to have your claim cost the insurance company as little money as possible. Simply stated, what that means is for you to get as little as possible, which may be lower than what would be considered a “fair and reasonable” settlement amount. If you are hurt in and unrepresented by an attorney, and not familiar with personal injury claims, the tactics used by some claims representatives can leave you feeling confused and cheated. In many situations, the claims representative will pressure you to settle right away. However, settling quickly may not be in your best interest, depending on the type of injury you have and the type of ongoing treatment you may need.
The claim representative might tell you that you can save money by not hiring an attorney because you won’t have to pay the one third of the settlement contingency fee that personal injury attorneys typically charge. The claim rep also will likely tell you the insurance company will work with you and that you do not need an attorney because your claim will be settled quickly and fairly.
Following an accident, the claim representative will probably contact you the same day. Usually the first thing they will want from you is a recorded statement. They will tell you that they want to get your version of the what happened events.
It’s important to be careful about what you say to a claim rep, because in Virginia if you are found to be even 1% at fault in a way that significantly contributed to cause the accident, then you are not entitled recover any compensation for your bodily injury or property damage.
Note though, that when the claim representative requests a recorded statement, they don’t tell you that you have a right to refuse or that you are entitled to a copy of your recorded statement. The claim rep will ask number of questions about how the accident occurred, and also about the property damage, your injuries, your prior health condition, and other personal information. Claim adjusters don’ tell you that are gathering information from you and that they will utilize the Claim Index Database System to track the claims history of every claimant.
As a general rule, you should not give a recorded statement concerning a car accident to anyone without the advice of an attorney