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Mistakes You Can Make After A Car Accident

After a car accident or personal injury, a call from an insurance company may be dangerous. The insurance company may not be your best friend. Here are some thoughts on what you might NOT want to do.

  1. Agreeing to settle a case after a car accident, without knowing how badly you are hurt.
    • Car accidents can result in obvious injuries.  However, a car accident can cause an injury that has a delayed onset.  The delay can be a matter of days in a whip lash case, to a matter of years as arthritis sets in from the original injury.  It is important to know whether there are collateral effects that result from your car accident injuries.
    • These kind of effects must be evaluated by your doctor, and often an orthopedic specialist as well.  It is not sensible to settle early on in a case, until you have that information.
  2. Recorded Statements.
    •  After a car accident or injury on the premises of another person, the insurance company of the negligent party usually tells victims that they need to have a recorded statement before making a settlement offer.  In most cases, when dealing with the insurance company of another person, giving a recorded statement can be harmful.  Insurance adjusters can use anything you say out of context.  This can be used to reduce the settlement offer they make you.  It can also be used by their lawyers against you if the matter must go to trial.
    • Please take note that, when dealing with your own insurance company, you are usually contractually obligated to cooperate with your own insurer.  Failure to cooperate, even as to giving recorded statements, can be grounds for your insurance company to deny you coverage.
    •  Prior to giving a recorded statement, you should always consult an attorney.
  3. Asking for too much.
    • A car accident or premises liability injury is not an opportunity to become wealthy.  The justice system is designed to reasonably compensate you for the losses you sustained.  If you ask an insurance company for too high a settlement figure, that can be a clue to them that you do not understand the value of your accident case.
    •  Moreover, the value of a personal injury case will generally increase over time.  The closer you get to trial, the more the settlement offer will tend to increase.
  4. The “final” offer.
    •  Often times an insurance company will imply that an offer is their “final” offer.  Unless you have the capacity to conduct a trial yourself, you have no leverage to push for a higher offer. The threat to sue is meaningless without the ability to do it.  An attorney can run interference for you to make the threat to sue a credible threat, or even a reality.  In fact, no attorney should be afraid to go to trial.  That is what we do.
    • If you have been negotiating with an insurance company for compensation for your accident injury, you should at least consult an attorney before accepting it.  Also, be very careful about what you sign; it could be a release that is not to your advantage.
  5.  Is the Insurance Company trying to be fair?
    •  Insurance companies are not the dark side.  Insurance lawyers and claim adjusters for the most part are just like us.  Their goal, however, is not “fairness”; their goal is to pay you as little as possible, which insures higher profits for the insurance company.  A statement by the insurance company that an offer is “fair” is suspect; they pay out on claims because they must compromise on their exposure to a higher verdict than the settlement that is offered.  An attorney can help to insure that a compromise is reasonable.
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