Being the victim of a negligent driver who causes a car crash can be traumatizing, no matter how simple or severe the accident may seem. Immediately following the accident, at the very least you’re completely shaken, and your adrenaline has spiked. In worse cases, you may have suffered traumatic or debilitating injuries. Either way, you’re in a vulnerable state. And that’s the kind of state insurance companies love to find people in. Contrary to popular belief, car insurance companies are not there to help and protect you. No matter how sympathetic to your situation they may seem, insurance adjusters and insurance rapid response teams are not your friends.
Their goal, as well as the goal of their team or the third parties they hire, is to save their company as much money as possible. They do this by paying their insured, or victims of their insured, as little compensation after an accident as they can justify. And they justify small payouts by getting victims to say exactly what they want them to say. And they get accident victims to say exactly what they want them to say by catching them off guard with a rapid response team.
What is an Insurance Rapid Response Team?
Insurance rapid response teams are the individuals or groups of people an insurance company sends to the scene of an accident or to your direct location immediately following an accident you’ve been involved in. They may claim these response teams deploy so quickly in order to make sure the process of seeking damages runs smoothly for everyone involved, but that’s not usually the case.
The real reason these people rush to the scenes of accidents is to not only use the fresh evidence to their advantage, but so they might also catch victims off guard. They arrive to collect statements, take photos, and may even have specific accident specialists in tow to start making brash conclusions about the accident. Such specialists might include their own team of lawyers, car accident recreationists, and even retired law enforcement or medical personnel.
It’s not even unheard of for these rapid response teams to sometimes arrive on the scene of an accident before emergency services do. If they believe a large sum of money could be in jeopardy, they want to be the first ones out there in an effort to make sure events swing in a way more favorable to them. This might include collecting or moving evidence before it can be collected or recorded by law enforcement, coaching their insured on exactly what to say, or bombarding you, the victim, with questions and comments they hope you’ll answer in a way that’s useful to them and detrimental to you.
Insurance rapid response teams often want to get to you while you’re good and rattled and aren’t sure of the extent of your injuries or damages. That way, they have an easier time swaying you to give them a statement that puts you in worse light than may be accurate to what really happened—even if what you say may not be true. They’re just looking for any type of verbiage they can use to place blame on you or take blame away from their insured. Because that translates to give you a smaller payout on the backend.
Sometimes, a member of this team will even make immediate estimates on the compensation they’ll owe you, and be ready to write you a check right then and there. What they don’t tell you is that by taking that check, you’re usually agreeing to relinquish any rights to seeking further compensation. This can be a big risk to take when the accident has only just happened, and you can’t be sure of the extent of your injuries.
A Possible Rapid Response Scenario
Insurance rapid response teams are more often deployed when the drivers involved represent a larger company or entity, or when the accident is more extensive (meaning potentially expensive). In these situations, the responsible driver stands to put not just themselves at risk, but their company and their company’s money too. So insurance companies often feel the need to take immediate action on their own behalf.
Take the scenario of an accident with a semi-truck or tractor trailer. Because semi-truck drivers are often employed by larger trucking companies, if they cause an accident, they’re involving more than just themselves in the legal aftermath. One common trucking accident to occur is left-hand turn accidents, or when a semi-truck driver makes a left turn while oncoming traffic has the right of way. Because of the size of their truck, they may misjudge the speed or distance of the maneuver and cause an accident.
In this example, say you, as the driver of the oncoming vehicle, attempt to swerve out of the way of the behemoth truck that has just driven across your lane, but can’t avoid smashing into it. Your car spins out of control, rams into another car, and the semi-truck in question skids and tips over onto its side. It’s a messy accident. But even assuming the truck driver is in the right state to do so, their first call may not be 911. Instead, it could very well be to their trucking company’s legal department, who starts an incredibly quick chain reaction to assemble a rapid response team to head out to the scene of the accident.
Meanwhile, your airbags have deployed, your windshield has shattered, the driver’s side exterior of your car is destroyed, and you’ve suffered a broken arm and severe whiplash that feels like it’s getting worse by the minute. You may be thanking your lucky stars you’re alive, but you likely have a long recovery ahead of you. All because a truck driver turned when he shouldn’t have. So can you imagine stepping out of your totaled car on shaking legs to find a stranger in a suit and tie trying to get you to admit that some part of the accident was your fault?
It’s hard to imagine, let alone experience. But that’s what these rapid response teams are counting on—that you’ll be so shaken up, you’re not even sure what you’re saying to them in the moment. All so they can then let you know later on that they will not be covering any of your resulting medical bills because something you said helped them “prove” you actually caused the accident or don’t deserve medical compensation.
What to Do When Speaking with Insurance Teams
At some point following your accident, you will need to speak to a variety of people—emergency services, the police, your doctor, perhaps a trucking accident lawyer or car accident lawyer. And yes, you will likely even need to eventually speak with an insurance adjuster, because statements are still needed in order to put a claim together. While you may be required to speak to an insurance adjuster or give them some kind of statement at some point, you are not required to talk to them immediately following your accident. This is important to try and remember should the scenario ever arise.
You are able to defer talking to any such rapid response team representative until a later date when you have had a chance to have your injuries thoroughly assessed and have acquired a lawyer. If any such representative tells you otherwise at the scene of the accident, do not believe them. This is just another tactic they attempt to use, assuming that you won’t know any better and will give them something they can use to make their own case.
When the time does come to give your statement to an insurance team, try your best to remain calm and polite. They can be frustrating to work with, but anger only begets anger, which doesn’t bode well for a claim such as this. You also want to make sure you’re honest with the adjuster, but you don’t need to be forthcoming about every little unnecessary detail. They don’t need to know your state of mind just before the accident occurred; they don’t need to know your medical history from the last ten years; they don’t need to know where you bought your car or the last time you had it serviced. You only need to answer questions about what happened during that accident, and what your resulting medical conditions and expenses have been. If they want to know more, you can and should direct them straight to your personal injury accident attorney.