If you have a personal injury lawyer, you should never talk to the insurance adjuster without your lawyer present. If you do not have a lawyer and are dealing with an adjuster, you should hire a personal injury lawyer before you agree to sign any documents, give any statements or settle your case.
A personal injury adjuster is an insurance company employee or insurance representative hired by the insurance company who is assigned responsibility to investigate and assess insurance claims. An adjuster also determines if a payment should be made under an insurance claim. In most cases, the insurance company will appoint an adjuster who will handle the entire insurance claim and deal with your personal injury lawyer directly. If the claim is not settled, the insurer then appoints a lawyer (defence counsel) who then works with the adjuster to either settle the claim in negotiations with your personal injury lawyer or proceed to a trial.
Adjusters are regulated professionals and must adhere to a set code of ethics and conduct, meaning they must act honestly and fairly. However, you should know that the main goal of the personal injury adjuster is to protect the interests of the insurance company. Adjusters will assess and pay compensation for legitimate claims but, like any business, adjusters will do what they can to pay the least possible. In determining if a claim should be paid, the adjuster will review the evidence, discuss the facts with their insured and person claiming compensation, interview witnesses, obtain witness statements, obtain relevant documents, assess the proper value of claims, negotiate a settlement with a personal injury lawyer or refer the matter to defence counsel.
Because the insurance adjuster does not work for you, you should be mindful that the adjuster may want to do things that benefit the insurance company to your detriment. For instance, insurance adjusters may not advise you of your rights and interests, will not represent your interests, will want a written or oral statement from you (which can be used against you in a court of law) and will want to minimize the compensation paid.
In our experience, hiring a personal injury lawyer almost always results in our client receiving much more in compensation, even after our bill, than the adjuster was willing to give in the absence of a lawyer being involved. We often see unrepresented clients receive offers from adjusters which are far too low and settlements which results in underpaid claims.