In 1961 Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram performed “shocking” experiments which revealed human bias toward following orders—even in the face of evidence that compliance caused harm (in the form of a shock) to others.

After a car crash you promptly and dutifully call your insurer to provide the details. Your auto insurance co. sends you a packet with forms asking about the accident, your wages, your medical providers and Medicare eligibility. Your insurer also asks that you sign and return a medical release. Generally speaking, you should provide your auto insurance carrier the information it needs to evaluate and pay medical costs and wage losses under its PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage. Plus, you have a duty to cooperate with your insurer’s investigation per the terms of your policy.

You also receive a second packet. This one looks “official” and very similar to the packet you received from your own insurance company, except for one detail. This second letter is from the insurance company for the other driver. Should you dutifully complete and return? NO. DO NOT COMPLETE FORMS FOR THE OPPOSING INSURANCE COMPANY.

Unlike your insurance company, you have no contract with the other insurance company. To the contrary, the only reason you know about the other insurance company is because someone it insures caused you harm. The other insurance company is gathering information to help it defend against your claim and set reserves. THE OPPOSING INSURANCE COMPANY INSURERS SOMEONE WHO HARMED YOU, YOUR LAWYER WILL TELL THEM WHEN TO JUMP, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

As we learned from Stanley Milgram, humans tend to obey orders from figures of authority. Don’t fall for it. Adjusters for the opposing insurance company are potential witnesses who could testify against you. You owe them nothing. They owe you compensation for your injuries. Not the other way around. The information the opposing insurance company needs to evaluate your claim should be presented at your convenience through your lawyer, not at the convenience of the insurer for the wrong doer.