One of the most important steps to take after a car accident in California is filing an insurance claim. Reporting the crash to the at-fault party’s insurer is often the only way to recover reimbursements for your hospital bills and property damage.

Unfortunately, insurance companies are not easy to work with. They do not often side with victims. Instead, they may make unfair offers to try to save money. Knowing how to handle conversations with insurance agents after a crash could be critical to your claim.

Never admit fault

An insurance claims adjuster, or the professional assigned to your case, may use tactics to try to get you to admit to fault for the collision or to say something incriminating. Always be wary when discussing your crash case with a claims adjuster. The agent may make you think you do not have a claim, when in reality you could be eligible for significant compensation.

Decline to give a statement

When the at-fault driver’s insurance company calls you to discuss your case, the agent may ask you for you to give a recorded statement over the phone. Politely decline. No law in California makes it mandatory for you to agree to being recorded. If you say yes, the company could twist what you say to incriminate you later.

Work with an attorney

 Do not trust insurance companies after a car accident. Instead, speak to a car accident lawyer to understand your rights. A lawyer will be on your side — no one else’s. Your lawyer will protect your interests and fight to achieve the true value of your claim during settlement negotiations.

Do not accept a low settlement offer

Remember, an insurance claims adjuster wants to minimize, not maximize, your payout. It is typically in your best interests to wait to accept a settlement offer until a lawyer has reviewed your crash case.

An attorney can give you an accurate appraisal of your damages. Then, you can enter into insurance settlement negotiations informed. Do not fall for tricks such as a “last” or “final” offer. Your case is not over until you decide to agree to the insurance company’s terms.