How to Handle Your Insurance Company after an Accident
You are obligated to notify your insurance company after a car accident or other incident, but just how much information are you required to give? How much detail is required? If you attempt to handle your insurer without a clear understanding of your rights and obligations, you could seriously jeopardize your ability to receive the compensation you deserve.
Just the Facts
There are a lot of steps you must take after an accident. Once you have contacted the police, exchanged information with the other party, and received medical attention for any injuries, your next step should be to get in touch with your attorney. If your lawyer does not specialize in personal injury law, it is important to contact one who does. Like medicine, the practice of law is very specialized. It is critical to speak with a law firm that deals with insurance companies daily and knows how they operate. Ideally, the best time to speak to your insurance company is afteryou have touched base with your attorney.
When you call your insurance company to report the accident, stick to the facts. Be polite and respectful, but do not volunteer information. As a general rule, report the following information:
- An accident occurred
- You were in the accident
- There was property damage
- You were hurt
- The other person gave you his or her insurance information
When it comes to your injuries, it's best to keep your statements very general. For example, stick with basic statements like "my back and right leg were hurt" and let your medical records supply the details.
If you have a police report - and you should - your insurer will want to see it. Insurance adjusters are trained to dig deep when policy holders report accidents. Be courteous, but do not allow the adjuster to push you into making unnecessary statements.
If you are unsure if you were hurt, say so rather than stating that you suffered no injuries. In many cases, injuries don't show up until days or even weeks after an accident. If you make a general statement claiming that you are unhurt, the insurance company will do everything it can to hold you to that claim down the road. This can seriously compromise your personal injury case. Finally, let your insurance company know that you have an attorney and give the adjuster your lawyer's contact information. Once you inform the insurer that you are represented by a lawyer, the adjuster should stop talking to you directly and direct all communication through your attorney's office.
Insurance Adjusters Do Not Work for You - Your Attorney Does
Insurance adjusters are not your friends, no matter how friendly they seem. They are skilled at expressing sympathy in an effort to make you lower your guard and discuss your injuries in detail. When you are injured and vulnerable, it is easy to confide in someone who seems genuinely concerned about your well-being. In fact, some of the well-known insurance companies reach out to an injured party within 24 to 48 hours after an accident, hoping to speak with the accident victim before an attorney gets involved. Their field adjusters even travel to people’s homes unannounced and offer short money before the victim has an opportunity to call a lawyer. No matter how genuine they sound, don't trust them.
Remember that adjusters work for the insurance company, and insurers are businesses. They are interested in profits, and they have every incentive to minimize your claim or deny it outright. Your insurance company does not work for you, but your lawyer does.
Massachusetts Personal Injury Law Firm
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