Should you talk to an investigator?
You may be surprised to find a lot of people trying to contact you after an accident. This can include people coming to the accident scene, trying to talk with you at the hospital, calling your home or job, or even showing up at your doorstep. They may say that they are "investigators," that they were sent by your doctor or lawyer, that they are from "the" insurance company or that they are lawyers.
Always know who you are talking to
- Make them tell you who they work for. Anyone contacting you for legitimate reasons will have no problem telling you who they work for and providing proof such as an ID or business card. If the person will not give you this information, or you are not sure who they are, walk away, hang up or tell them to leave. Do not give them any personal information.
- Do not go with strangers who show up at your accident offering you rides to a doctor's office or lawyer's office. This form of solicitation is illegal and unethical and any doctor or lawyer you end up with from this type of scam is likely to be out for their own interest and not yours. If you are injured, let Emergency Medical Services (EMS) take you to a hospital and then follow up with doctors of your own choosing.
- Make them tell you how they got your information. There are unfortunately dishonest people who will try to get your personal information from a hospital or doctor's office. They may then try to solicit your case by saying that they were assigned by the hospital or doctor. This form of solicitation is illegal and unethical and any doctor or lawyer you end up with from this type of scam is likely to be out for their own interest and not yours. Read How to hire an accident lawyer to learn how to get the best lawyer for you and your case.
- If they say that they are an investigator from "the" insurance company, make them explain whether it is from "your" insurance company, or the insurance company for the person that injured you. While you do have to cooperate with "your" insurance company, you do not talk to anyone (other than the police or your employer) about your accident or injuries before you hire a lawyer. If you're not sure, just take their information and tell them you'll have your lawyer get back to them.
- Never speak with an investigator for the insurance company for the person that injured you. One exception to this is if you're trying to settle a property claim such as damage to your car. Even then, it's fine to take their information and tell them that you'll get back to them after you speak with a lawyer.
- Once you tell an investigator or insurance adjuster that you have a lawyer, they cannot continue to talk to you. All communications must go through your attorney. Even when it is your own insurance company, it is better to speak with your attorney and have him/her present when you speak with your insurance company (usually by phone).