While there are few positive associations with being involved in a car accident, one silver lining that people recognize is the potential of being compensated for their injuries via their car insurance company. Indeed, many people assume that so long as they maintain car insurance and have made their insurance premium payments on time and in full, their insurer will be nothing but cooperative when it comes to offering them a settlement.
Unfortunately, however, many people are disappointed to learn that their insurers are not nearly as eager to pay out a claim as expected. As Atty. Marc Brown often says, “insurance companies are not in the business of paying money out and helping people.” Here are some tips for dealing with your insurance company after a crash to help you recover your maximum settlement amount.
If you’ve been in a car accident, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm today to request a free consultation.
Report Your Accident and Injuries as Soon as Possible
The first thing that you should recognize is that if you wait too long to provide your insurer with notice of your car accident, they may maintain the right to deny your claim. It is strongly recommended that you call your insurer immediately after your crash, preferably within the first 24 hours of its occurrence if you have been medically cleared and are able to do so.
Be Careful About Your Statement
Whether you’re talking to your own insurance company or the insurance provider of the other party, be careful about anything that you say to the insurer. Note that, just as in a criminal case, anything you say can be used against you. Stick to the facts, and do not do the following:
- Make assumptions or guesses about what happened
- Claim the extent of injuries you’ve suffered
- Admit fault
- Exaggerate too much
- Feel obligated to provide the insurer with a recorded statement (In fact, in most cases, it’s recommended that you wait until consulting with an attorney to provide a statement to the insurer)
In addition, if you are asked questions by the insurer that you don’t know the answer to, such as how fast you were traveling at the time of the accident or what caused the crash, simply say, “I don’t know.” If you provide an answer that is inaccurate, it will be very hard to erase your words from the insurance adjuster’s mind (and records) later on. And remember, “I do not recall” or “I’m not sure” are perfectly acceptible answers, as long as you are truthful.
Know What Your Claim Is Worth
One mistake that many claimants make is failing to know what their claim is worth at the time they ask for and are offered a settlement. As such, they may be eager to accept any settlement offer that’s made, which often ends up being much less than they truly deserve. We strongly recommend that you have your vehicle assessed by an independent third-party so that you know the true cost of repairs. Also be sure to talk to experts about your other costs, such as the value of your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering damages (if you’re claiming these losses). This way, when you are offered a settlement, you’ll know whether or not it is fair and fully compensates you.
Remain Respectful, but Firm
Sadly, the truth is that it is more likely than not that your insurance company will try to take advantage of you by offering you less than you deserve, or by trying to evade liability in some way. This can be extremely frustrating. While you have the right to reject a settlement offer, negotiate your claim, and even bring forth a lawsuit or a complaint against your insurer, note that acting out of anger or becoming emotional in conversations with your insurance adjuster will not serve you well. We suggest remaining firm in your efforts to recover the settlement that you deserve, but also respectful and professional.
Many people assume that once they file their claim, the insurance company will quickly get back to them with a settlement offer. Depending on your situation, though, it may take weeks or months for an insurer to reply to you. You have the right to timely communications; exercise this right. If you haven’t heard back from the insurance company and it’s been more than a week or two, be sure to follow up.
Reject Your First Settlement Offer
While it’s not a rule that you should always reject your first settlement offer, more commonly than not, first-time settlement offers are lowballed. Again, note that it’s important to have a solid grasp of the value of your claim so that when you are offered a settlement, you’ll know whether or not accepting it is in your best interests.
Hire an Attorney
If you’ve been in a crash and your damages and injuries are severe, fault is disputed, or your claim is denied, it can serve you well to hire an experienced lawyer who has worked on cases like yours in the past. Not only can your attorney investigate your accident, determine liability, prove fault, and calculate your damages, but they can also represent you in all interactions with your insurance company, including settlement negotiations and litigation should it come to it.
Get Legal Help Today
We hope these tips for dealing with your insurance company after a car crash have offered you some insight. If you’ve been an an accident and need legal assistance, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm today. We have years of experience, a reputation of success, and work on a contingency fee basis. To learn more about our services and how we can assist you, please call us today for a free consultation.