The costs of recovering from a tragic pedestrian accident in Washington state can be overwhelming. Even if you’re confident that the motorist will be found at fault, establishing liability doesn’t always ensure a fair recovery. While you might have evidence and eyewitness testimony on your side, insurance adjusters often go to great lengths to preserve their company’s profit margins—sometimes at accident victims’ expense.
Making Sense of the Insurance Company’s Intent in a Seattle Accident
Washington, like most states in the country, has a tort-based insurance system. State law dictates that, under most circumstances, the person found at fault for an accident is responsible for compensating the victim’s losses.
Since most ordinary Americans can’t afford to pay for collision-related costs out-of-pocket, the Evergreen State requires that every motor vehicle be properly insured. Liability insurance policies must meet or exceed the following limits:
- $25,000 for injuries or death to another person
- $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people
- $10,000 for damage to another person’s property
When the damages exceed the limits of a Washington liability insurance policy, a Seattle-area pedestrian accident victim could file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault motorist and their insurance company. However, negotiating a fair settlement is rarely a straightforward undertaking.
Insurance adjusters routinely employ a wide range of tactics designed to minimize claimant’s damages, from demanding that they consent to “independent” medical examinations to never-ending paperwork requests. Without the right representation, a survivor could end up in a seemingly impossible situation.
How Washington Insurance Adjusters Try to Minimize Pedestrian Accident Claims
If you or a loved one was injured in a Seattle-area pedestrian accident that wasn’t your fault, you could be entitled to significant compensation. However, your rights to a fair recovery depend on the actions you take—and the mistakes you make—in the crash's immediate aftermath.
After submitting an accident-related claim, you’ll likely be contacted by the at-fault motorist’s insurance company. While the adjuster may be sympathetic to your claim, their loyalty lies with their employer, and they may try to use your own words against you to have grounds to reduce or even deny your claim. So, keep the following points in mind before speaking to an insurance adjuster after a pedestrian accident.
Never Admit Fault
If you feel guilty about the accident or are simply uncomfortable taking up an adjuster’s time, you might be inclined to apologize. However, adjusters are trained negotiators. Should you offer any apology for the collision, they could falsely interpret this as an admission of fault.
Even if you suspect that your own mistake could have caused or contributed to the accident, you’re not obliged to share this information with an insurance company. As an accident victim, you’re also not responsible for investigating the causes of a collision or establishing another party’s fault. Your attorney will assess your damages and secure the necessary evidence to litigate a claim.
Refuse to Provide a Recorded Statement
You may be surprised at how quickly an insurance adjuster contacts you after a Seattle pedestrian accident. Personal injury attorneys in Seattle area regularly hear from clients who say they received a phone call or an in-person visit while they were still in the hospital, struggling to make sense of their surroundings and come to terms with their injuries.
During your first conversation with an adjuster, they could ask that you provide a recorded statement. Requests for a recorded statement are often posited as a simple formality and an opportunity to tell your side of the story. However, the adjuster may be less interested in establishing a compelling recounting of the accident than seizing the chance to collect information that could be used against you in subsequent negotiations.
While providing a statement may be unavoidable, you have the right to have an attorney present.
Protect Your Medical Records
The insurance company may need limited access to your medical records to verify your injuries and begin calculating an initial offer of settlement.
However, this doesn’t mean that the adjuster should be afforded unbridled access to your entire medical history. Always think twice before signing a medical records release form: once the insurance company is authorized to retrieve your records, the adjuster may examine any pre-existing conditions, then later attribute accident-related complaints to an injury you sustained in childhood.