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If you are required to talk to a claims adjuster about your accident, you may wonder if you should have a lawyer present during your conversation. The decision to have a lawyer present can be a good one if you are dealing with a hostile adjuster, but is often not necessary with proper precautions.
Personal injury lawyers usually insist on being present at any conversations between their clients and representatives of an insurance company. If you already have a lawyer representing you in a claim for damages, then of course that lawyer should be present at your interview with the adjuster.
Your Own Insurance Adjuster
However, if you have not hired a lawyer, you must decide if you want to do so before you talk to a claims adjuster about your case. If you are talking to your own company’s adjuster, it is much less important for you to have a lawyer present. Your own company’s claims adjuster will simply be confirming the facts of the accident. You might want a lawyer if your adjuster is trying to deny your legitimate claim for some reason. Of course, you cannot always predict this, but if you already know that your company is questioning your claim, a lawyer might be a good idea for your meeting with the adjuster.
Somebody Else’s Insurance Adjuster
If you are meeting with another company’s adjuster, it is much more likely that you would want to have an attorney present during your meeting. The other insurance company is more likely to be trying to find a reason to deny your claim, and may be far more hostile to you than your own company. Of course this is not always true, but in many cases you would want representation when dealing with another company’s adjusters.
Adjusters are agents of the insurance company and their job is to save the company money
They investigate claims and make determinations as to what the company should pay in the way of damages. Your biggest concern with an adjuster is usually whether or not the company will value your car at the proper price, or will insist that you use secondary market parts for your repairs. However, on occasion, a company will attempt to deny a legitimate claim altogether. This is where an attorney may be useful.
Personal injury attorneys specialize in collecting damages for people who have been in car accidents. In fact, it is likely that you will get more money by hiring an attorney than if you attempt to settle a claim without one. If you have been injured by another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to more than just the actual cost of repairing your car and your medical bills. However, the insurance company is not “liable” for any damages; instead, they must pay up to the liability limits if you receive a judgment from a court or if the company decides to settle with you.
If your injuries are small and the damage to your car minimal, you can probably handle your claim yourself. However, if you suffered significant injuries and will require rehabilitative therapy or some other long-term treatment, you might want to consider hiring an attorney to handle your suit. Attorneys have more resources and experience in dealing with insurance companies than the average person, so a personal injury lawyer may be able to negotiate a better settlement for you than you can get for yourself.
When speaking with a representative of another insurance company, be sure that if your attorney is not present or you do not have an attorney that you record the conversation in some way. You can do this by tape recording the interview with the other party’s permission or by taking notes on the date, time, and place of your meeting and giving a brief description of what was discussed. You should also note the name and job title of the adjuster or other person with whom you speak.
An attorney is a hired agent who protects your rights. Any time you feel that you are dealing with a hostile person, including the adjuster for your own or another insurance company, it is not a bad idea to have a lawyer representing you and protecting your interests. If you are not represented and an adjuster asks you for an interview, inform the adjuster that you would prefer to hire an attorney before speaking with him or her. In this way, you can protect your rights and still comply with the insurance company’s request.