Car accidents happen all the time – but they are far from a regular occurrence in most people’s lives. According to car insurance industry estimates, you can expect to be in a wreck roughly every 17.9 years.
That’s simply not often enough for the average person to be familiar with what they need to do when it happens to them. Aside from calling the police and seeking immediate medical attention for any injuries, what can you do to protect your interests?
Don’t talk to the other party’s insurance company
You are under no legal obligation to speak to the other party’s insurance company after a wreck, even though you can generally expect an adjuster to reach out to you quickly. Most likely, they’ll ask you if they can take a recorded statement, in the hopes that something you say can be used to devalue or deny your claim. Something as small as an admission that you didn’t even see the other vehicle before you were hit could be twisted into “evidence” that you were distracted driving – and, therefore, at least partially responsible for your own injuries.
Be exceptionally wary of fast settlement offers
Insurance company adjusters are not interested in taking responsibility for their client’s mistakes or giving fair settlements. Their sole job is to make sure that they minimize the company’s losses. With that in mind, if you’re offered a quick settlement after a wreck, you need to ask yourself, “Why? What’s in it for the insurance company?” The answer is almost always that the insurance company either suspects or knows that your claim is worth a lot more but they’re hoping your anxiety over your financial situation will induce you into signing away your rights.
Do not sign blanket releases for your medical records
It makes sense that your medical records might eventually be required for your claim, but insurance adjusters typically try to obtain overly broad releases. That’s in the hopes that they can go digging through your medical records to see if they can find pre-existing conditions they can use to blame your injuries on and limit their liability.
It’s always easier to negotiate a fair settlement with experienced legal assistance. Once you have a skilled attorney on your side, you can let them handle the legalities while you concentrate on healing.