There are many things that people should know when becoming involved in a car accident. Many people assume that contacting their insurance company and giving a recorded statement is the first thing that needs to be done. While this isn’t wrong, it also isn’t really right either!
Car insurance companies and their adjusters work hard to limit the amount of claims that they pay each year both for the property damage portion of a claim as well as the medical portion of the claim. An insurance adjuster’s job is to settle claims as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Insurance companies certainly don’t become $15 billion companies because they give money away!
First things first: Watch what you say when you contact your insurance company to report the claim. Do not give more details then they ask for. Do not say that you were not injured, especially if you have not been to a doctor to evaluate your possible injuries. Many soft tissue injuries do not show up until 24 to 48 hours after the accident occurs and if you have already told the adjuster that you weren’t injured, than they will likely think you may be committing fraud. Tell the police, the medical personnel and the adjuster the minimum and then clam up so that they can’t use your words against you later.
Also, you need to keep a written record of the accident. You should write down all of the details of how the accident occurred as soon as possible so that when it’s time to give a statement to the insurance company or an attorney, you can refer back to it. Additionally, keep a written record of your injuries, your level of pain and the medical treatment you have received. Then when you do make a statement, watch for any loaded questions that an adjuster may ask of you. If the adjuster asks things like: how could you have avoided the crash, how much do you think you are responsible, did the weather affect your driving or do you have any previous injuries to areas like your back and neck, be cautious in how you answer. All of these questions can be used against you by the adjuster assigned to your case. They will use your statements to try to get you to settle your case faster or for less money because they have twisted your words around.
Do not let them hurry you into settling. The claims adjuster wants to get to you as soon as possible because they may get bonuses for settling a claim quickly. Take your time to get proper estimates for the repairs to your car both from the insurance company’s recommended repair shop as well as one that you know and trust. You can push for them to pay for the higher cost repairs from the shop of your choice. You also need to know the value of vehicles similar to yours in the event that your vehicle is totaled. Additionally, you want to seek medical treatment with your physician and be certain that you are 100% healthy prior negotiating any type of settlement.