In 2015 alone, there were over 6 million reported car accidents, and almost 2.5 million people injured from those crashes. There were over 96 fatalities per day. Car accidents are big business for insurance companies and often an ordeal for you. If you ever find yourself involved in an unfortunate car accident, the problems have only just begun.
Dealing with insurance companies can be a figurative nightmare since insurance companies are a business and want to protect their profits. If you have only paid in for, say, five years, and you only pay $600 a year for your policy, your insurance company will be reluctant to pay out anything over $3,000 - if that! They still have to make money, and they have their own overheads to cover, so you can understand how and why they are reluctant to pay out on any policy even if the limit is $100,000 or more. That goes for your insurance or the at-fault party’s insurance too.
At the end of the day, insurance companies will do all they can to wiggle out of any compensation claims. That’s why they hire tough insurance adjusters and even tougher legal teams.
So, if they’re a tough audience, how do you get fair compensation for your accident? Here are 5 tips on how to deal with your insurance company after a car accident.
1. Hire an Attorney
You may feel that for a simple accident you do not need to hire an attorney, but for any car accident, the best way of protecting yourself is by getting the best representation you can. A trusted attorney knows the laws of your state and understands all of the moving parts in a case. Attorneys deal with these cases day in day out, but clients do not. It’s understandable the experience is disorienting, upsetting, and confusing which is why you need a level-headed advisor by your side.
2. Reveal Nothing
Do not contact your insurance company immediately, and do not give a recorded statement. Insurance companies are tricky so don’t figuratively shoot yourself in the foot before you’ve begun. Avoid doing anything that will harm your case. You do not have to relay anything other than simple facts of what happened. Do not admit fault. Do not claim you are uninjured. Keep tight lipped. You also do not have to reveal information about medical treatment or information about your provider. Any information you volunteer to your insurance company can be used against you.
Before speaking to your insurance company, speak to an attorney who knows the laws of your particular state. Never give a statement without your attorney present.
3. Negotiate with Your Claims Adjuster
Some attorneys deal with this point differently, but generally attorneys and not the client should provide all of the paperwork and evidence to the claims' adjuster. This strategy gives you the upper hand because the adjuster will understand that if they do not analyse the evidence correctly and give intentionally low figures, the adjuster will know the attorney will be willing to file a lawsuit. Claims adjusters know that if lawsuits are filed, they will end up paying more in compensation, so to keep everything more level, they’ll be much more reasonable.
Clients who deal with their own claims adjusters risk getting tricked or saying the wrong thing. A lawyer will know which evidence to present, how to present the correct medical records and opinions to demonstrate causation and injuries, wage loss, lifecare plans, economic losses, and any other evidence to support complex claims. An experienced attorney will know what to say and when to provide evidence. They’ll also know how to negotiate with the adjusters if needed, and they will be there to submit the correct letters (the counter offer, the reservation of rights letter, explanation demand, the final settlement letter, and so forth).
4. File a Lawsuit if Necessary
If the insurance company is coming up short and uncooperative with your claim, you will need to file a lawsuit with your attorney. Your lawyer will file a lawsuit in court by drafting a formal legal complaint and submitting the claim. Then the complaint will be served to the other party. The defendant (the other driver) will have a time period to answer the complaint - around 20 days. Then there will be a discovery process where you request information from the defendant and vice versa or you will schedule a deposition to get testimonials (people will testify) at a specified time and place. Information is often submitted and gathered in the form of interrogatories, or written questions, or recorded testimony, which may be used in court. The final step is the trial where a judge or jury hear the evidence in the case. The case preparation can be time consuming and expensive, so the best case scenario is that your attorney will help you settle with your insurance company without the need for any litigation. The only time litigation is advantageous is when there are serious personal injuries.
5. Don’t settle too quickly
Some states have one to two years before you have to settle a claim. Settle as slowly as possibly you can because you do not know the far reaching effects your accident will have in the immediate aftermath of your accident. You may be more badly injured than you realise at first and a good attorney will track your progress and keep up with your case. Even when you go to settle, it could take weeks and sometimes even months for your insurance company to settle. It’s never easy or simple getting them to part with cash!
Need help and advice after your car accident?
Contact Coxwell & Associates, PLLC for a free case consultation to discuss the best course of action for your case. If you need someone to advise you on what to do now, how to talk to your insurance company, or what you can claim, contact us here.
We have over 35 years of experience dealing with personal injury claims and helping car accident victims maximise their compensation. Get the compensation you deserve.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.