Most people assume that talking to the insurance company is the next logical step in managing a car accident claim. Filing a claim is your road to acquiring compensation for the sometimes severe injuries you may have sustained in your accident. However, if you suffered severe injuries or considerable property damage, you should talk to an attorney before working with an insurance company.
On the fence about consulting an attorney? Consider these reasons to avoid discussing your accident with the insurance company.
1. The insurance company is not on your side.
The insurance adjuster, personally, may feel a great deal of sympathy for you as you present your challenges and discuss your losses. The insurance company as a whole, on the other hand, exists to make money. The company does not benefit from paying out a large settlement after an accident, regardless of what losses you may have sustained or the severity of the injuries you suffered in your accident. Insurance companies, therefore, use a variety of strategies to help minimize the compensation they have to pay out after a serious accident.
A lawyer, on the other hand, is on your side–and knows how to help you successfully navigate whatever challenges the insurance company may throw your way. When you work with a lawyer, you can help prevent many of the errors that may inadvertently decrease the compensation you can recover.
2. Little things matter when you give your statement or discuss the accident.
Most people do not realize how carefully they have to navigate their discussions with the insurance company. The insurance adjuster may attempt to trip you up: to get you to admit that you may have contributed to part of the accident, for example.
Georgia is an at-fault state. That means, according to Georgia law, that the party that contributes the most to an accident can be sued for damages (or, more often, have their insurance company sued for damages), and a party that contributed less than 50% fault for an accident has the right to pursue compensation for any damages sustained during the accident. However, you can have your compensation reduced by the amount of fault you bear for the accident.
Suppose, for example, that an investigation uncovers evidence that shows you bear 20% of the fault for the accident. As a result, you may only receive 80% of the damages caused by the accident.
The insurance company wants to catch you making a statement that may indicate that you caused or contributed to the accident in some way. For example, imagine that, as you give your statement about a car accident, you admit that the sun was in your eyes, or that you had a hard time stopping your vehicle due to excessive speed. The insurance company may use that as evidence that you contributed to the accident and reduce your compensation accordingly.
3. Small talk can prove detrimental to your claim.
While chatting with the insurance adjuster, she asks how you’ve been doing. It seems like polite small talk. After all, the adjuster knows that you suffered serious injuries and that you have faced immense challenges to go with them. As you chat, you mention your weekend plans. Those plans involve a great deal of mobility, and may include activities that your claim indicates you cannot do without pain.
You might have carefully arranged to go to those events in spite of your limitations, but the adjuster does not know that. Immediately, you call into question the validity of your claim, which can slow down the amount of time needed to process your claim or launch a deeper investigation. Ultimately, your small talk could result in the loss of some of the compensation you would otherwise have received for your injuries.
4. The insurance company may try to manipulate your statements.
Sometimes, you might not slip up in what you say, but the insurance company may deliberately misinterpret or misrepresent it anyway. Simple statements can cause your claim to go awry–and you might not even realize it. A lawyer, on the other hand, has a better idea of how to handle phrasing, how to answer key questions, and how to avoid many of those pitfalls, which can help you maximize the compensation you can recover.
5. You may not even know how much compensation you deserve.
Most people do not know how to fully read an insurance policy or, for that matter, how to determine how much compensation they deserve after a serious accident. Even if you have a vague idea that you may deserve compensation for your medical expenses, you may not know how much that will really look like, especially once you take your long-term needs into consideration.
All too many accident victims make the mistake of talking to the insurance company before they talk to a lawyer. Then, when the insurance company offers a settlement, they may assume that the offer fairly reflects the losses they have faced, or perhaps the maximum of the policy. Later investigation, however, may lead them to discover that they deserve much more. By that point, however, it’s too late to do anything about it. A lawyer, on the other hand, can help break down the compensation you really deserve from the beginning, which may put you in a better position to negotiate for the compensation you really deserve.
Consult a Car Accident Lawyer to Help Protect Your Rights
After a serious car accident, you may need an experienced attorney on your side to help you navigate the challenges often presented by the insurance company. An attorney can help break down the compensation you actually deserve, avoid many of the tactics used by the insurance company to minimize the compensation it has to pay out, and support you as you manage your claim. Did you suffer serious injuries in a car accident? Contact Cambre & Associates today for a free consultation that will help you avoid insurance company traps that could minimize the compensation you can recover.