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It won’t take long after a car wreck for an insurance company adjuster to contact you. (Depending on what happened, you may even end up talking to more than one insurance adjuster — especially if multiple vehicles are involved.)

Just be warned: That kind of quick response is more about the insurance company’s desire to protect itself than to address your claim. The adjuster may be trying to lock you into a narrative regarding the events leading up to the accident or to gain some kind of admission that could be used to later deny you were seriously injured. They know that the immediate aftermath of a car wreck is confusing and stressful, and they want to capitalize on that.

Here’s what you need to know about handling that initial conversation:

You don’t have to be compliant to be polite.

If the insurance company is asking you a lot of questions and wants to record the answer, you can bet that they’re fishing for something they can later use against you. You are under no obligation to answer all of their questions — and you don’t have to submit to being recorded. (You can even decline to answer any questions at all without your attorney present.) Stay calm, stay cool — and don’t give in to pressure.

Stick to the basic facts about the accident.

At some point, you will have to notify the insurance company about the wreck. However, discussing anything more than where the accident occurred and who was involved could be premature. If you’re looking for a way to shut down the adjuster’s questions about the accident, simply say, “I’m not prepared to discuss it right now.” If you want to stop questions about your injuries, say, “I’m not sure of the full extent of the damage yet.” It’s far safer to be noncommittal at the start.

Keep records of the conversation for yourself.

Don’t rely on the accuracy of the insurance company’s records. Grab a notebook and jot down the name of the person you talk to, what position they hold, what they asked, what you said and what you were told.

A car accident attorney can help you navigate this process and protect your rights. Find out more about your legal options.