Accidents are inevitable. According to the National Safety Council, more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, which resulted in an estimated $433.8 billion in total motor vehicle injury costs, including medical expenses, motor-vehicle property damage, wage and productivity losses, employer costs and administrative expenses. (In Maryland, car accidents average over 100,000 annually with more than 30,000 people injured or killed.)
Because accidents require a hefty sum, motorists usually opt to have some insurance to cover costs resulting from motor vehicle accidents. The same can be said of other personal injury cases, such as dog bites and premises liability.
In the event of accidents or other personal injury cases, the claimant can file an insurance claim—and this is where complications can happen, legally speaking.
Be Wary of Insurance Adjusters
Within days of filing an insurance claim, expect a call from an insurance adjuster asking for your recorded statement. They need your side of the story to complete their investigation, which along statements from the insured, witnesses, incident reports and police, will help them see a better picture of the accident.
However, they’re also looking for evidence they can use to lower the claim amount or even deny the claim altogether. Adjusters retrieve such information by catching you off guard and using tricks to uncover inconsistencies or any info they can use to ultimately lessen or totally negate your claim.
Watch out for:
- A request for your statement right after the accident. It’s their way to try and trip you up. Don’t agree to a recorded statement when you’re in severe pain, lack sleep, taking medication, confused or upset, or haven’t had a chance to consult a personal injury lawyer. Reschedule or opt for a written statement instead.
- Misleading questions. For instance, seemingly harmless queries like “How do you feel today?” can possibly be used to determine how injured you are. If you answer, “I’m fine,” you’re screwed because no one who’s injured is “fine.” They’ll put words in your mouth and you’re none the wiser.
- Asking personal questions. Remember to stick to the facts. Don’t give the adjuster any info that could lead them to think you were distracted by personal issues or be willing to settle for quick and easy money.
Whatever you say in a recorded statement remains forever. There’s no way to change any mistakes or faulty info you may have provided. So remember: Insurance adjusters are not your friend. They’re not on your side!
Attorneys Don’t Recommend Giving Statements
A personal injury lawyer discourages recorded statements, which may contain incomplete and even faulty information. A written statement, which allows you to state the facts regarding the accident precisely and thoroughly, is preferred.
In this way, personal injury lawyers deter their clients from releasing two conflicting statements, specifically for cases wherein the claimant decided to file a lawsuit. Inconsistencies in the claimant’s stories can definitely damage the case.
However, if you do decide to go for a recorded statement, do so in the presence of your lawyer. They’ll have you prepare an outline to help you remember important points and details, and help you stick to the facts. Most importantly, they will also ensure you don’t say anything that may hurt your claim and that the adjuster doesn’t ask tricky, misleading, inappropriate or irrelevant questions.
Filing for Insurance Claim in Maryland
When filing for an insurance claim in Maryland, there are two additional factors to bear in mind. These will determine if you’ll receive compensation and how much.
Statute of limitations. From the date of the accident, claimants have three years to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party and settle their claim. Beyond this period, you will have lost your legal right to pursue your claim against the negligent party or the insurance company.
Contributory negligence. According to Maryland’s law, if the claimant has even the slightest contribution to an accident, then they will not receive any compensation whatsoever.
If filing an insurance claim in Maryland, it makes sense to do so with the help of an attorney. A personal injury lawyer in Baltimore like Nick Parr, for example, can defend against contributory negligence accusations and ensure that you will receive your due compensation in an expedited manner.
Filing an insurance claim? Contact Nick Parr today for a free consultation!