How to Deal with Insurance Companies Following an Accident
By Casey W. Stevens
When you are injured in any type of accident, you will have to deal with insurance companies - both your own and those of the other parties involved. Many auto accident cases are not complicated and do not require that you consult an attorney in order to be justly compensated for your injuries and losses. But there are accidents that will necessitate that you hire a qualified personal injury attorney to represent you in order to obtain the settlement that you deserve. Knowing and understanding when to talk to insurance companies as well as what to say and what to not say, can help to ensure that you receive the best settlement for your injuries.
First of all, immediately following an accident be sure that you collect as much information as possible. Try to get not just the other person's insurance information, but also the contact information for other witnesses to the accident. If possible, take photos with your camera or cell phone. Obtain a copy of the accident report from the authorities (law enforcement, security, management, etc. depending upon the type of accident) and collect the names of any emergency personnel at the scene. Information is your best ally in getting what you deserve and should you need to hire an attorney he or she can utilize the information that you have collected to determine the best course of action.
Be Honest, but Be Careful
When dealing with your own insurance adjuster, be certain to lay out the facts of the accident as clearly as possible - who was where, what you believe caused the accident, all of your injuries and losses, etc. However, you should also be very careful about how you relay this information since it is possible that your insurance company records such calls. Any and all evidence relating to your case has to be turned over to the opposing side should your case ever need to go to trial, and if there are recorded calls regarding your recollection of the accident then your words could be used against you.
Proceed with Caution
At some point, you will have to talk to the other parties' insurance adjuster. Be as brief as possible. Until you understand exactly what all of your injuries are, what type of care they will require, and whether or not they will have long term effects on your life, just try not to answer any questions about them. If they want to record your conversation, you should consult an attorney first so that he or she can advise you on what to say (and what not to say).
The other party's insurance may ask you to sign forms allowing them access to your medical records - don't be fooled. You are not required to release your records to them, and their probing will not be limited to the medical records of just your accident injuries. Your best bet is to collect only the relevant medical records yourself and send them to the insurance company or to have your attorney handle it for you.
When you are injured, missing work, with bills piling up, it is tempting to simply accept the first settlement that the insurance company offers you. Be patient. Remember, the insurance companies are businesses, and a businesses' main goal is to make money. The only way that they will make money is to convince you to settle for as little as possible. Negotiations take time, and your attorney can help you to understand what you should expect.
Personal injury law is complicated - it varies from state to state, and changes often. Statistics show that accident victims who retain legal representation from a qualified personal injury attorney recover as much as three times the compensation as those who try to go it alone. Contact the Law Offices of Casey W. Stevens for a free case evaluation to see if we can help you get the settlement that you deserve for your injuries.