Dealing with Insurance Companies: Do's and Don'ts
In 2019, the Washington Department of Transportation reported a total of 45,524 car accidents. The majority of these accidents were caused by distracted and drunk drivers. Car accidents are frightening experiences and happen all too often so it’s best to prepare accordingly. While it is standard procedure to report the accident and exchange information at the scene, many people aren’t aware of what steps to follow afterward. Avoid letting insurance companies take advantage of the situation by knowing how to properly navigate the insurance claim process and protecting yourself with the following tips:
Information To Get At the Scene. Besides exchanging insurance information get the other driver’s date of birth, license plate, make and model of car and driver’s license information from everyone involved. Write down names and contact information for any witnesses who happened to see the accident. All of that can come in handy down the road, depending upon how your claims process proceeds. Get this information even if police are on the scene. Police officers don’t always file the proper documents after an accident.
Do not provide a recorded statement to the other person's insurance company. If you are involved in an accident with another vehicle, the other person's insurance company will contact you for a statement. They will use the information against you so it is best not to give them a statement without seeking legal assistance first. You are under no obligation to provide a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company and thinking you have such an obligation is a mistake many people make. The other driver’s insurance company will try and get you to make such a statement—don’t fall for it.
Retain a Personal Injury Lawyer. The best way to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, injuries and pain and suffering is to seek legal counsel. A personal injury lawyer will handle many of the tasks associated with the claim process. That process is time consuming and involves endless phone calls and paperwork. Let a professional handle it for you so you can devote your energy to healing from your injuries. Studies show that people in accidents who retain a personal injury specialist get three times the compensation that people who try and resolve the case themselves receive. Having a lawyer increases the settlement amounts and protects your personal interests.
Seek Help Immediately and handle communications promptly. Some insurance companies require that claims be submitted within a certain time period following the accident. There is paperwork for the at-fault driver’s insurance company as well as for your own insurer. Avoid the time and hassle of handling this all yourself. Bring in a professional to address this for you.
Remember, the insurance adjuster is not your friend. They may seem friendly but they are trained to act as if they are your friend. This is intentional so they can build your trust and get you more comfortable talking to them. In the process, you may say something that could damage your case. As friendly as they seem, remember claims representatives for insurance companies are representing their own interests, not yours. Every claims representative for an insurance company receives a bonus based on how small the amounts of money are that they pay out over the course of a year. Don’t become one of their statistics.
Document everything! Go to an emergency room—that’s the best form of documentation for your injuries you can have. Although it’s time consuming and you just want to go home and lay down, having that documentation is invaluable as your case proceeds. It's very important to keep records, save receipts, and keep excellent documentation. Keep track of what health care providers you see and when. This will help you with your claim and will help your personal injury lawyer have the documentation needed to assist you.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Do I need a car accident lawyer?” Remember that insurance agencies aren’t always upfront and honest. Qualified personal injury lawyers take on the complexity of the entire claims process to prioritize your best interest and get you the compensation you deserve.
As a Seattle Personal Injury Attorney, I want to help you with many more things to know and do after you’ve been in an MVA. If you find yourself trying to navigate the next steps after an accident, give Haskell for Justice a call. We’re ready to be your advocate. You pay no money up front and you pay nothing until you win!