Car accidents are something we all try to avoid, but typically most people will find themselves calling their auto insurance provider to make a claim at least once every ten years. Insurance companies portray themselves as "neighbors" or "on your side" in commercials, and many adjusters are very good at making their clients believe it is true, especially in the emotional aftermath of a car accident. But the relationship they have with their client in not personal. It's business. And ultimately, paying an accident victim less, denying a claim all together, or finding partial fault to justify a rate increase is in the insurance company's best interest. More often than not, an adjusters loyalty lies with the one who signs their own paycheck.
Deciding What To Say To The Insurance Company
If you are in an accident and plan to make a claim, the incident will need to be reported to the insurance company, but they don't necessarily need a full report that day. Most people are shaken up, disoriented, and many are in physical pain and are incapable of accurately assessing what happened or describing their own injuries. If you suspect that you'll need to make a major claim, you may want to talk to your attorney first.
Using Your Words Against You
Many insurance adjusters seem sympathetic, but they are trained to draw out information that will justify a lower payout. This may include getting you to accept a check quickly before you can fully assess your injuries. This can mean your claim is paid quickly, but you get short changed thousands of dollars. Many will try to get you to admit fault so that a claim can be disqualified or reduced before you have a clear understanding of what happened.
They may also follow you on social media and try to get you to downplay your injuries or damage to your vehicle in order to cut a smaller check. Setting your privacy settings to allow only those you trust to view social media photos is best, insurers may try to use accident photos against you as well as pictures of you doing activities they don't believe your injuries should allow.
For some claims, the opposite tactic is used. They trickle small checks while they analyze evidence until the "red tape" eats away all the time allowed to make the report and the statute of limitations expires on the case.
Why An Attorney Makes Sense
Even if your injuries don't seem that bad, it is still a good idea to at least consult with an attorney. Because your meeting is confidential, you don't have to worry about being tricked or tripped up, and in most cases you will not be charged any fees unless you do receive a settlement. In addition to certain ethics lawyers are held to, it also makes sense for your attorney to get you the best settlement they can because it affects their own payment. Whether you are protecting your own claim with your insurance company, or the other driver's insurance company, an attorney can help you get the details straight and maximize your chances of a fair settlement.