Though traffic has no doubt slowed considerably throughout the state due to the New York State on PAUSE Executive Order, there are still plenty of motorists traveling around by car, truck, and motorcycle. Essential employees need to get to and from work, people are shopping for food and necessary household goods, and truckers are hauling important cargo to its final destination. As a result, motor vehicle accidents will continue to occur.
If you were injured in such a crash, one of the first steps in the legal process is filing an insurance claim, since the New York Department of Motor Vehicles requires motorists to carry a minimum amount of coverage. Therefore, you can expect that you’ll need to have a conversation with an adjuster. There are many reasons you should trust a New York car accident lawyer to have this discussion, since saying the wrong thing could have a harmful effect on your rights. Still, you should understand how to handle some of the questions the adjuster might ask.
Who caused the crash? By asking this question, the adjuster is trying to get you to admit fault or let on that your actions may have contributed to the collision. The policyholder may not be completely off the hook but the insurance company could justify paying less if you were responsible. New York has a contributory negligence statute, which could reduce the amount of compensation if you were also negligent in causing the accident.
What were you doing before the collision? Adjusters may not directly ask who caused the crash, but they will come up with indirect ways to get this information. Finding out what you were doing in the moments before the accident could be revealing. For instance, replying that you were on the phone, texting, eating, or adjusting the radio indicates that you were distracted driving.
Where were you traveling when the auto accident occurred? This is another question that bears on the issue of liability, and a couple examples may help you understand the issue:
- If you say that you were headed to work, the adjuster may follow up to determine what time you were supposed to arrive. Based on timing, there could be the assumption that you were running late and speeding.
- Though not as much of an issue with stay-at-home orders in place, telling the adjuster you were coming home from a social event raises the possibility of drunk driving.
Can I record this conversation? You shouldn’t be answering any questions at all, but this one may be the most important. The only answer is an absolute NO. Even if you don’t think you’ll reveal too much to the adjuster, you could slip up. Once your words are recorded, it’s almost impossible to take them back.
Would you be willing to sign a release? This is another NO response. An adjuster will only request that you sign a release in exchange for a payout on your claim, but you may not know whether the offer to settle is fair and reasonable if you don’t have a legal background. A release is a legal way of taking your rights away for any action you may have in the future.
Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer Before You Speak to an Insurer
When you retain a skilled auto collision attorney, you don’t have to stress about how to answer questions from the insurance adjuster. Our team at The Mandel Law Firm will handle this conversation for you and protect your rights throughout the claims process. To learn more about our legal services for victims of car accidents, please call (646) 770-3868 or go online to schedule a consultation at our office in Manhattan.