- After a car accident, you may suffer damages like medical expenses, damage to your vehicle, lost wages, or more.
- Recovering compensation for these damages often requires extensive negotiations with insurance companies.
- Insurance companies have financial incentives to deny your claim or offer you less than what you’re owed and have learned many tactics to protect their bottom line.
- You can protect yourself by working with an experienced car accident lawyer.
The aftermath of a car accident can be disorienting. In the confusion and stress, while you’re dealing with potential injuries and damaged property, you may be tempted to agree to whatever the insurance companies say just to make them leave you alone.
When dealing with insurance companies, saying or doing the wrong thing can be a costly mistake. Every missed step or wrong word can have a direct impact on your claim–but you’re not alone. The expert attorneys at Werner, Hoffman & Greig can guide you through the process and help you recover every bit of compensation you’re entitled to.
Immediate Steps After a Car Accident
The immediate aftermath of a car accident is a crucial time for your insurance claim. This is when the best evidence will be available, and the story established here can shape the entire investigation and settlement.
- Check for injuries: Get everyone out of harm’s way and check for injuries. Even if you don’t feel hurt, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention. You may have hidden injuries you don’t notice, and medical records can be key evidence for your insurance claim.
- Call emergency services: Dialing 911 after a car accident is usually a good idea. First responders can ensure everyone’s safety, and a police report will be an important piece of documentation.
- Exchange information: Gather driver’s licenses, insurance details, and contact information for all parties involved in the accident, along with any witnesses.
- File a police report: Even minor accidents need documentation.
- Contact your insurance company: Notify them promptly, but avoid detailed statements or admitting fault.
Communicating with Insurance Companies
The most important thing to remember when dealing with insurance companies is that they’re businesses, seeing as the insurance market is over a trillion dollars. Their bottom line is always their priority, and that might not line up with your best interests. If they think they can deny your claim, they will.
Here are a few general principles to keep in mind when you’re communicating with any insurance company.
- Stick to the facts: Provide the insurance companies with the basic facts of the accident but avoid adding any speculation or personal opinions.
- Don’t sign anything yet: Take the time to understand every document before signing, and seek legal advice if you’re unsure about anything.
- Avoid recording a statement: You are not obligated to give a recorded statement, and anything you say can be used to deny your claim.
- Keep detailed records: Document phone calls, emails, and any other communications between you and the insurance company.
Notifying Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company may seem like they’re on your side, but they’ll only cover you as much as they have to. They want this problem to go away as quickly and cheaply as possible, no matter what your best interests may be.
You’re required to notify your insurance company after you’ve been in an accident, but you don’t have to give them any more information than that.
Avoid offering any unnecessary details, and stay away from any discussion of fault. Any information you give them can be used as a reason to deny your claims and protect their financial interests.
Dealing with the Other Party’s Insurance Company
The insurance companies representing any other party involved in the accident are never on your side, and you should avoid communicating with them any more than strictly necessary.
It’s important that you don’t provide any recorded statements without seeking legal advice first. Share only basic information, and avoid discussing specifics of the incident.
The insurance companies may try to make an early settlement offer. Don’t rush to accept–this is likely less than they know you’re owed. Consult with an attorney before agreeing to anything.
Common Tactics Used by Insurance Companies
While they’re legally obligated to handle things fairly, insurance companies have strong financial incentives to chip away at your claim. Successfully navigating the aftermath of a car accident involves overcoming the various ways insurance companies will try to minimize your payout.
Some of these tactics may include:
- Delaying tactics: Insurance companies love to play the waiting game. They may tie things up with slow communication, lengthy investigations, and excessive paperwork, hoping you’ll give up and accept a low settlement.
- Denial of claims: Insurance companies may try denying claims based on technicalities or loopholes in your policy. They might argue that the accident wasn’t covered, that you contributed to your injuries, or that you didn’t report the accident promptly enough.
- Lowball offers: In an attempt to close the case quickly, insurance companies might offer you a quick settlement for a fraction of what your claim is worth. This settlement might seem tempting, especially if you’re facing financial hardship, but it’s often far below what you’re legally owed.
These are just some of the ways insurance companies may try to avoid paying out what you’re owed. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you deal with insurance companies to protect their bottom line.
Maximizing Your Compensation and Protecting Your Rights
With all of these tactics that insurance companies use, it may feel like the deck is stacked against you. Don’t worry: there are strategies you can use to protect yourself.
- Stay persistent. Follow up frequently, and keep detailed records of your attempts to contact them. Don’t let them stall your claim.
- Know your policy. Familiarize yourself with all the terms and conditions of your insurance coverage.
- Gather evidence. Collect any information or evidence that can help your claim, like police reports, medical records, eyewitness statements, or photographs of the accident scene. Document everything.
- Don’t rush into a settlement. Take the time to understand the full extent of your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Don’t accept their first attempts to force a low settlement.
The most important way to protect yourself is to contact a car accident attorney right away. An experienced lawyer can keep the pressure on the insurance companies and negotiate on your behalf. They have the specialized knowledge it takes to help you seek justice.
The insurance companies will have lawyers working hard to deny you the compensation you deserve. You should have a lawyer to help you fight back.
Werner, Hoffman & Greig Can Help
If you or a loved one have been through a car accident, you deserve to have someone on your side as you recover, negotiate with insurance companies, and seek justice. The team of experienced car accident attorneys at Werner, Hoffman & Greig can help.
We know what you’re going through, and have a proven track record of success in recovering damages for our clients after car accidents.
To learn more about how we can help or to schedule a free case evaluation, please contact us online or at (800) 320-HELP.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I don’t contact the police?
While not mandatory, a police report provides valuable documentation and strengthens your claim. It may be tempting to avoid involving the police, but it’s a good idea in these situations.
What happens if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
If the at-fault party doesn’t have car insurance, there are other options. You can file a compensation claim with your own insurance company, or you can file a lawsuit against the other party.
Both of these strategies can be complicated, and it’s a good idea to work with an experienced attorney if you’re going to recover compensation this way.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
Working with an attorney may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially when car accidents can be such a financial burden already. However, many personal injury lawyers don’t require up-front payment. Instead, they get paid only when you receive a settlement.
What damages can I recover after a car accident?
Victims of speeding accidents can receive compensation for damages such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Property damage
Consult with a car accident lawyer for a personalized evaluation of the damages you may be able to recover.