We’ve all been there or know someone who has: You are driving along, when out of nowhere, BAM! You’ve been in a car wreck. So many things go through your mind. Am I okay? Is anyone else hurt? Is my car okay? Do I need to call the police? (The answer to that one, by the way, is yes!)
In the hours or days following your auto accident, you will likely speak to many people associated with an insurance company. You are always obligated to report any accident to your own insurance company, and you may decide you want to deal with the other person’s insurance company as well. When you call and report the incident, you will likely be contacted by an adjuster assigned to your claim. You may be speaking to an insurance adjuster with your own insurance company as well as an insurance adjuster for the person who caused the wreck.
Without going in to too much legal detail, suffice it to say that when you deal with anyone associated with your own insurance company, they have numerous legal duties to be honest and forthright with you, and to deal with you fairly and in good faith. It is very important to realize, however, that these same requirements do NOT apply to the conduct of the insurance adjuster for the person who caused the wreck. This type of adjuster can be referred to as a “third party” adjuster, because they represent the “third party” insurance company, which is the insurance of the other party involved in the accident.
The duties and obligations of a third party insurance adjuster to deal with you fairly and in good faith are extremely limited under Texas law compared to those same duties of a “first party” adjuster (an adjuster for your own insurance company.)
You will often find that these third party liability insurance adjusters are often VERY friendly and VERY sympathetic to your situation. They may offer a shoulder to cry on and encourage your to speak freely about the facts of the collision and your injuries. Often times people do not realize that the JOB of these adjusters is to find reasons to deny your claim and pay you nothing (or as little as possible) for your injuries. These insurance adjusters may pretend to be your friend, but they are not. They are NOT on your side, and they are working against your interests.
As a personal injury lawyer, I am often hired by clients who have first tried to handle their claims themselves. After all, that adjuster was so nice and so friendly, and they PROMISED they would be fair! Lo and behold, weeks or months later, cold hard reality sets in. Often times in these situations, my client has said or done things to make my job in recovering appropriate damages much more difficult or even impossible.
My best advice to you is to remember that the insurance adjuster for the other party in your collision is NOT your friend, not matter how much they want you to believe otherwise. If you are involved in a car wreck in Houston or anywhere in Texas, your best bet is ALWAYS to consult with a lawyer who truly will ALWAYS be on your side – do not take on that insurance adjuster on your own!
Stewart J. Guss is a licensed attorney representing injury victims in Houston, Katy, Tomball, Cypress, Spring, The Woodlands and throughout Texas for almost 20 years. He practices primarily in the areas of personal injury, auto accidents, and insurance law. Call today for a free consultation at 281-664-6500. Remember, there is no charge for this phone call and he will not charge you a dime unless he wins your case!