In simple terms, negligence is when an individual or business fails to conduct itself as another person or business would under the same circumstances to protect a person from harm.

Negligence has four basic elements that a North Carolina personal injury attorney must prove during a case:

  1. Duty of care: the at-fault party had a duty of care to protect other people that they ignored or failed to complete accurately. 
  2. Breach of the duty of care: the at-fault individual or business breached their duty of care by failing to act as another reasonable person would under the same circumstances.
  3. Cause: the breached duty of care directly caused the victim’s injuries.
  4. Damages: the victim sustained verifiable injuries due to the breached duty of care.

To succeed in winning a personal injury case, the victim and his or her legal team must prove negligence. The burden of proof rests solely on the plaintiff’s shoulders and the defendant doesn’t technically have to prove anything to avoid paying out a settlement to a victim, so long as the victim fails to prove his or her case.

That’s why it’s crucial that you hire a North Carolina personal injury immediately following your injury. This way, your attorney can stay up-to-date on developments in your case and be there for you throughout. Here’s a look at how your attorney and the insurance adjuster use negligence in a personal injury case.

How insurance adjusters use negligence in North Carolina

An insurance adjuster is an individual who works for the insurance company and investigates claims. Basically, an insurance adjuster works to collect evidence in a case to legitimize the claims you’re making. 

Part of the job an insurance adjuster does is help the insurance company determine how large your settlement should be if they award you a settlement at all. However, the end goal is always the same: pay out as little as possible.

The insurance adjuster working on your case might work to prove that you were the negligent party in the claim. For example, in a car accident, the insurance adjuster might work to prove you were at fault for the accident. In a slip and fall accident, the adjuster might prove that there were adequate signs that you failed to heed.

When they can, an insurance adjuster will work to prove that the insurance company is not liable for the damages of your accident. If they can prove this entirely, it means you get no settlement.

How attorneys use negligence in North Carolina

Just like an insurance adjuster works to use negligence to prove their innocence in the matter, your attorney uses negligence to prove that the defendant is at-fault for your injuries. 

Your North Carolina personal injury attorney will build a case proving that you were injured through no fault of your own and that the at-fault party could have prevented the accident if they had acted as any other reasonable person or business would have under the same circumstances.

Part of the process of proving negligence is proving the damages you sustained from the accident. This includes the following documentation:

  • Medical bills from your office visits
  • Verification for any missed work and lost wages
  • Property damage estimates
  • Mental health reports showing mental trauma
  • Witnesses who testify about changes they’ve seen in you
  • Evidence of mental anguish or emotional distress

An attorney is an expert at proving negligence, meaning they can generally secure higher settlements than you could on your own, even if you present similar evidence. Plus, because personal injury attorneys are experienced in negotiating settlements, they know what a fair settlement is based on your injuries.

Robert Louis Armstrong is an experienced personal injury attorney in North Carolina who will work hard to prove the defendant’s negligence in your case. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a serious car accident, your instinct might be to start calling insurance companies immediately – either your own or the insurance company of the person who caused the wreck – to sweet-talk them into helping with your claim. 

In the beginning, insurance adjusters might even seem overly trust-worthy and friendly. Make no mistake: This is done on purpose, and insurance adjusters are not to be trusted to work in your best interest. Most people don’t realize that insurance adjusters are not required to treat you fairly or pay you what you’re owed. If you accept a lowball offer, then they’ve done their job. 

Here are some do’s and don’ts for dealing with insurance companies after a vehicle accident: 

  • Hire an attorney as soon as possible: Personal injury attorneys are here to make sure you get the most money possible from your case. After all, their own payment depends on it. Personal injury lawyers are uniquely knowledgeable about accident laws that are unique to your state. Your lawyer will have all the tools to get you more money than you can usually obtain on your own. 
  • Gather evidence and documentation: Were you injured? Then gather your medical bills and medical records. Did you have to miss work? Then gather your payslips — and your paid time off approvals — to prove it. Was your vehicle damaged? Take pictures. 
  • Don’t accept your first settlement offer: It’s common practice for insurance companies to make you a settlement offer quickly after an accident. Don’t fall for it. Let your attorney do the negotiating for you. 
  • Choose your words carefully: Once you hire an attorney, you shouldn’t have to deal directly with insurance companies from here on out. But if you speak to an adjuster before you hire an attorney, be careful what you say. They can and will use it against you in an effort to pay you less than you deserve – or not pay you at all. 
  • Don’t sign anything before consulting with your attorney or reading the document very carefully. Always read the fine print. 

 

Robert Armstrong has more than three decades of experience in personal injury law. If you’ve been in an accident in North Carolina, contact his office today for help. 

Drivers who have the minimum auto insurance coverage will be in quite the bind if they are in a serious collision with an underinsured driver.  The sad truth about driving is we are all at the mercy of others. You can do everything right behind the wheel and still end up in an accident with an irresponsible driver who carries insufficient auto insurance coverage.  Let’s take a quick look at the merits of adding underinsured motorist coverage to your auto insurance policy.

Minimum Coverage Necessitates that you purchase Underinsured Motorist Coverage

It is awfully tempting to carry the lowest possible coverage levels on your auto insurance policy to minimize your monthly payment.  However, if your coverage limits are low and you get into an accident with a driver with insufficient auto insurance, you will be on the hook for related costs in excess of your coverage.  This is precisely why underinsured motorist coverage is an absolute must for those who carry the minimum auto coverage limits. It is very inexpensive to buy and can potentially pay you back big time.

Fail to carry underinsured motorist coverage and a significant accident just might ruin your finances even though you were not at fault for the collision.  Think of this additional form of insurance as a policy that makes life a little bit more fair. Pay a little bit more for underinsured motorist coverage and you won’t have to endure the injustice of paying for another driver’s mistake.

Underinsured Drivers are a Fact of Life

We are all surrounded by underinsured and uninsured drivers on the roads and highways.  Though a harsh accident with an underinsured driver is unlikely, it has the potential to happen.  If you are the unlucky driver struck by a driver with insufficient auto insurance and you have the bare minimum insurance, you might end up with more medical/property expenses than covered by insurance.  

So don’t rule out the possibility of a financially devastating collision with an underinsured driver.  You really can do everything right while operating your vehicle and still end up paying through the nose after an accident with an uninsured driver.  Underinsured motorist coverage is your safety net.

Request Underinsured Motorist Coverage

If you are like most drivers, you do not know if your auto insurance policy has underinsured motorist coverage.  Do not assume you have this coverage. If you have fairly low coverage levels or the lowest possible, you absolutely need this additional coverage to protect your hard-earned savings in the event of an accident with a driver lacking the proper insurance.  Pick up the phone and contact your auto insurance agent today. Find out if you have underinsured motorist coverage. If your policy does not have this coverage, give serious consideration to adding it today, especially if your current coverage is the bare minimum.

On the Fence? Consider the Extent of Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Most drivers are surprised to learn the extent of underinsured motorist insurance coverage.  This affordable coverage protects you, the driver, as well as family members and additional passengers riding in the vehicle at the time of the accident.  Coverage applies to medical costs related to the accident along with loss of income for you as well as passengers up to the policy limits. 

Underinsured motorist coverage even protects you outside of your vehicle.  Use your mind’s eye to envision a situation in which you are riding in a buddy’s vehicle and are struck by an undersinsured driver.  Your underinsured motorist coverage will kick in so you don’t have to worry about financial ruin after an accident you did not cause.

Who pays my medical bills after an auto accident?

When buying an auto policy, you may find yourself being offered Medical Payments coverage. Medical Payments coverage can pay your medical bills whether or not you were at fault for the accident. If you were not at fault for the accident, these funds can help keep your medical bills out of collections until you receive your recovery. You may also be able to collect a lump sum recovery to pay for your medical bills and other damages.

Can my auto insurance carrier refuse to pay my medical bills?

Auto insurance carriers may refuse to pay your medical bills by asserting that they are not reasonable or necessary. Your carrier may send your medical records to an outside party for review. Medical Doctors and others specialists will review the treatment you have had to date. Based on their recommendation, they may deem the medical treatment as not reasonable or necessary and refuse to pay the related bills. Issues with this process arise immediately; it is readily apparent that the outside parties are working for your insurance carrier, not you. They are neither impartial nor unbiased. More often than not they declare that your treatment isn’t covered under your policy, right when you need medical care the most.  

I wasn’t at fault for my auto accident. Can the insurance carrier deny my medical bills?

There are many reasons that either the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier or your own carrier may refuse to pay your medical bills.

  • The auto policy has lapsed.
  • You are partially at fault for the accident (Not applicable for Medical Payments coverage).
  • The policy was canceled because the applicant gave false information to the insurance carrier.
  • The medical treatment was not reasonable or necessary.
  • Prior or new medical conditions that have similar symptoms to your current injury.
  • Pre-existing injuries that were only aggravated by the accident.
  • There isn’t enough objective evidence in your medical records to support that your injury is real.  
  • The insurance carrier doesn’t believe you sustained the injury in the accident due to the time between the accident and when you first sought treatment.

Although a few of the above issues are clear-cut, such as a lapsed policy, most  are not. Proving to an insurance carrier that your medical treatment is necessary as a direct result from injuries you sustained in the accident can be difficult. The insurance carriers will work to find reasons to deny your claim or pay as little on your claim as possible. You need an attorney working for you to help you assemble the evidence you need to document that your injury is related, real, and deserves compensation.

The auto insurance carrier has denied my medical bills. What do I do?   

Whether it is your own insurance carrier or the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver, you will have to file a lawsuit. Insurance claims for medical bills are routinely denied by the insurance carrier. Hiring an attorney early on in the process will ensure that you have all the evidence you need to prove the insurance carrier should pay. If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit, you will be ready.

While you can file a lawsuit on your own, it is not recommended. The rules of the Court can be complex. You will not only need the knowledge of an attorney but also their experience to avoid common mistakes. Most attorneys in North Carolina, and in particular the Wilmington area, will provide you with a free consultation. You can discuss your case with a professional to discover the ways in which an attorney can help you obtain payment for your medical bills. If you were not at fault, it is likely they can discuss obtaining a lump sum settlement on your behalf.     

While it is commonplace for an auto insurance carrier to deny your claim, it does not mean it is the end of your claim. Talk to an attorney today about getting the compensation that is due you, and get back on the road to recovery.

North Carolina is an at-fault insurance state, meaning that the at-fault driver is responsible for the damages that result because of a car accident. His or her insurance company usually pays for these damages. To make the other party pay, you will have to provide evidence that he or she was at fault.

Contributory Negligence

It is important to understand that North Carolina uses a strict contributory negligence scheme. In most states if a driver is partially at fault, he or she can still recover for the damages he or she sustained. His or her degree of fault reduces the damages award. For example, if the driver is 40 percent at fault and sustained damages of $100,000, he or she can still recover an award for $60,000. In North Carolina, if a driver is in any way at fault – even just 1 percent – he or she cannot recover any damages. This means that you must prove the other driver was 100% at fault for the accident.

A Wilmington NC personal injury lawyer can help you gather evidence to prove the other driver’s negligence caused the accident.

Evidence to Establish Your Claim

You will need to prove the following four elements of your claim: 1) duty; 2) breach of duty; 3) causation; and 4) damages. The following types of evidence can help you establish these elements:

  • Police report – After an accident, it is important that you contact the authorities and make an accident report. A law enforcement officer will arrive at the scene, conduct a preliminary investigation and may give a citation to the party who violated traffic laws.
  • Medical records – Medical records can show that you were physically injured in the accident. Collect emergency or hospital admission records, X-rays and other imaging scans, prescriptions, doctors’ notes, clinical summaries and other medical records.
  • Photos – Photos can help establish how the accident happened. Take pictures of the accident scene, including skid marks on the roadway, damage to your vehicle, damage to the other vehicle and the location of the accident. You can also use photos to establish some of your damages, such as your injuries and the damage to your property.
  • Employment records – If the accident caused you to miss work, employment records can show how much income and benefits you lost. Collect check stubs, tax returns and other payroll information. You might also want to ask your employer to write a note that indicates how many days you missed from work because of the accident.
  • Witness testimony – Objective witnesses can explain what they saw. This can help establish that the driver ran a red light, was weaving around traffic or speeding. If possible, try to get contact information for any witnesses immediately after your accident. Your Wilmington NC personal injury lawyer can contact these witnesses and determine if they may be able to help your case.
  • Video footage – Surveillance from local businesses or traffic cams may also show how the accident happened.
  • Statutory references – Because you will have to prove that the other driver was negligent, you will have to pinpoint exactly what he or she did wrong. You can then compare that act with North Carolina laws. For example, the driver could have been impaired or distracted. He or she may have sped, failed to yield, ran a red light or followed too closely.
  • Personal testimony – You may also be expected to testify about how the accident was caused and the extent of your damages. You are the best person to explain the pain and suffering you suffered as a result of the accident.

Robert Armstrong can help you gather this information to help prove your claim and seek maximum compensation against an at-fault party.

If you have suffered any sort of loss as a result of hurricane Florence or another storm, the steps you take following this unfortunate event will dictate whether you are compensated.  You should document and report your hurricane loss to the insurance company as quickly as possible.  Here is exactly what you should do to maximize your insurance recovery.

Locate Your Insurance Policy

Once you are safe and sound, the first step following the hurricane, storm or other event is to locate your insurance policy.  Review the language of your specific insurance policy to determine exactly what is covered.  This document will also explain your obligations and rights.  As you review your insurance policy, jot down any deadlines of importance such as when the last possible date is to give notice, file the sworn proof of loss or even file a lawsuit if you are in disagreement with the insurer’s coverage determination.  You will likely find this matter complicated to the point that the assistance of an attorney is necessary to have any chance of emerging with ample compensation.

Be Proactive

The most important thing you can do is be proactive.  Gather as much information as possible, act quickly, provide your attorney with enough time to advocate on your behalf and you will likely emerge with the compensation you need.  So do not wait for the insurance company to ask for information about the loss.  Be proactive by providing the supporting documentation right away.  Just be sure to verify your loss amount prior to proceeding.  Don’t rush through the valuation process due to a fear of an approaching deadline.  If your claim value is off, it could come back to haunt you down the line.

Document Every Aspect of the Claim

Document your claim’s details from beginning to end.  This way, if the insurance company’s representative misplaces something or makes a mistake, you will have a written record of the discussion and facts to back up your statements.  You can facilitate the processing of your claim by giving the insurance company supporting documentation right away.  Of critical importance is the documentation of your losses.  The entire loss must be evaluated before any cleanup attempt is made.  Property damage along with property that is unusable in the days after the storm should be included in your insurance claim.  Write down every action you take, track your expenses for everything related to the claim and save all of the related receipts.

Mitigate Expenses

Some insurance companies mandate the policyholder protect the property against additional loss.  You should take every step possible to mitigate subsequent damage.  Most of these expenses will likely be covered by the policy as long as they are related to the storm and you keep the receipts.  Take a close look at your policy to determine if such mitigation expenses will be fully reimbursed.

Go the Extra Step by Documenting the Damage With Photos

Do not perform any repair work until you have fully documented the damage.  It is not enough to call the insurance company and describe the damage.  Nor will a written description suffice.  Take photographs of the damage from several different angles.  Keep the receipts from all related equipment, emergency repair bills and other subsequent costs.  The policy might cover more than you initially assume yet the burden of proof is on you to show the extent to which your property is damaged.

Lean on the Experts

The most important thing you can do to maximize your compensation following hurricane Florence or any other storm is to ask for help from those with experience in handling flood insurance claims.  Our legal team is here to expedite your claim, go head-to-head with the insurance company or opposing counsel and ultimately maximize your compensation following this unfortunate event.  Let us handle the legal challenges following the storm so you can do your best to return your life to normal.  Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Now that hurricane Florence has passed through the Carolinas, plenty of people are wondering about their insurance and how they will go about rebuilding.  Even if you have insurance, it might not cover the damage stemming from the most recent hurricane, flooding or another storm down the line.  There is a difference between flood insurance and hurricane insurance.  Plenty of homeowners in the Carolinas have both forms of insurance. Even those who do not live in flood-prone areas should have flood insurance.  The question most homeowners have is whether hurricane insurance is also necessary in addition to flood insurance.

Hurricane Insurance

Hurricane insurance is available for damage stemming from hurricanes as opposed to strictly flooding, fire or another specific form of damage.  If the damage to the property was caused by the hurricane, it will be covered.  The main difference between flood insurance and hurricane insurance is hurricane insurance extends beyond damage caused by water.  Hurricane insurance also includes wind damage.  Flood insurance typically covers water damage to the first floor yet hurricane insurance is applicable to the entirety of the home.

Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is comparably limited in scope.  This form of insurance covers losses caused by rising water as well as storm surge.  The federal government underwrites flood coverage with its National Flood Insurance Program.  However, private companies can also sell this important form of insurance.  In some cases, it is difficult to determine if a flood or hurricane caused the damage.  If it is challenging to determine the cause of the damage, it might be necessary for an engineer to perform an on-site analysis to gauge whether a hurricane’s winds or flooding are the true cause of the damage.

Two primary types of flood insurance exist: one for personal property and the other for buildings.  Policies applicable to buildings cover damaged caused to the structure, foundation, exterior and semi-permanent indoor items.  Examples include carpet, paneling, appliances and heating/cooling systems.  Personal property flood insurance is applicable to portable items.  Examples include furniture, electronics and clothing.  Even portable appliances and sundries such as pieces of art are covered. 

Flood Insurance and Hurricanes

It is important to note flood insurance is not applicable to all the losses that might have been caused by a hurricane.  Even if you lose a high-value item stemming from a hurricane in which flooding occurred at your property, there is no guarantee your flood insurance will cover the item in question.  Furthermore, insurance does not cover your yard or the structures in the yard such as swimming pools, fences and decks.  Nor do flood insurance policies provide compensation for living expenses.

It is also important to note flood insurance has nuanced requirements for eligibility.  Furthermore, many such policies have multiple exclusions.  As an example, furniture or other property within an area such as a crawl space, a basement or a walkout style basement will not be covered.  This includes sound systems, TVs, carpet, window treatments, bookcases, etc.  If you are considering flood insurance, you should know the federal version is capped at a quarter-million dollars per building and $100,000 for contents.  However, it is possible to purchase a policy with a lower limit.  Separate deductibles are issued for dwelling and contents. 

Don’t Learn the Hard Way

Too many homeowners learn the hard way that their flood insurance or hurricane insurance is not applicable following a devastating event.  Every property owner should be aware that flood and hurricane insurance are completely distinct from one another.  If you live in an area with even a remote chance of flooding or potential damage from a hurricane, you should explore all of your insurance options in-depth to make a truly informed decision.  Our legal team is here to help you with all the subtleties of hurricane and flood insurance including claims and settlement discussions.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

If you have suffered any type of loss resulting from hurricane Florence, do not assume you are powerless.  Your best course of action is to meet with an attorney and file a hurricane insurance claim.  The manner in which you file your claim and the time at which it is submitted both matter a great deal.  Let’s take a look at a few tips that will ameliorate the claim process.

Get off to a Quick Start

Time is of the essence following a hurricane of this magnitude.  The insurance company will be inundated with phone calls from property owners looking to file claims.  Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the hurricane so you can get the ball rolling on your claim.  Insurance companies typically handle claim filers in a first come, first serve manner so don’t delay.

Document Every Aspect of the Claim

Take pictures of all the damage.  Write down all the information the insurance company representative provides during each conversation.  Be sure to record your claim number in a second space just in case you lose the first copy. Write down detailed notes during each interaction with the insurance company.  Be sure to ask for the customer service representative’s name each time you speak with the company about your claim.

If you have had any repairs performed following the storm, keep your receipts.  It also makes sense to keep receipts for living expenses accrued as a result of the storm, be it a stay in a hotel, meals, the costs of evacuation, etc. 

Be Careful When Interacting With Adjusters

The insurance company will likely send an adjuster to your property.  When this person arrives, ask him or her if they are employed by the insurance company or if they are an independent adjuster.  Independent adjusters must be authorized to make decisions and payments pertaining to claims on behalf of the insurance provider. 

Process Your Claim Through a Trusted Channel

There are plenty of opportunists going door-to-door following Hurricane Florence and other nasty storms.  These manipulators will knock on doors, claim to be an insurance adjuster or a contractor.  Do not trust these people.  True professionals are unlikely to go from one door to the next in the aftermath of a hurricane or other storm.

Detail all Damage In-depth

Though it is depressing to document all of the damage to your property following a massive hurricane, it must be done.  The more thoroughly you document the damage, the better your chances are of recovering ample compensation.  It is not enough to simply describe the damage to an insurance adjuster in a conversation conducted over the phone.  You should take pictures of the damage, send those pictures to the insurance company and do everything else in your power to prove the extent of the damage stemming from the hurricane.

Collecting detailed information about your property loss will also facilitate the completion of the proof of loss form.  This form allows you to describe the property or items damaged in the storm, the date of their purchase and the cost for repair or replacement. Our legal team is here to help you complete this form, comply with all legal requirements and obtain as much compensation as possible.

How to Proceed if You do not Have Insurance

If you have minimal or no insurance, do not assume you are out of luck following hurricane damage.  If you have home insurance but do not have flood insurance, call the insurance provider.  Certain homeowner policies that do not provide compensation for damage resulting from flooding might cover damage caused by water and/or wind.  Auto insurance will likely cover damage to your vehicle caused by downed trees.  Finally, those who have absolutely no insurance at all should contact local nonprofit groups or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) DisasterAssistance.gov website for more information about aid.

Contact Robert Armstrong Law to discuss your claim.

You were in an accident in Wilmington, NC where you sustained injuries. You’ve been dealing with the pain of your injuries and coordinating your doctor’s appointments against work and life obligations. Now insurance companies are telling you they aren’t going to cover all of your medical expenses because of minimum state limits. Why is this happening and what do you do?

 

North Carolina’s Minimum Car Insurance Requirements

Every state has its own laws regarding what kind of insurance coverage a driver must have to be compliant with the law. If you are living and driving in North Carolina, it is important to be familiar with what these requirements are – whether you are buying you or your teenager’s first insurance policy, shopping around for a new insurance company for better rates, or have just been in an accident.

 

North Carolina Car Insurance Requirements & Personal Injury Coverage:

Every North Carolina driver is required by state law to have liability insurance. Liability Insurance protects you in accidents where you are at fault by covering costs for injuries and damages. The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) details that every insurance policy’s liability insurance must have at the minimum the following coverage:

  • $30,000 for bodily injury liability, per person per accident
  • $60,000 of bodily injury liability total per accident

Now, these are the bare minimum requirements and it is always important to consider whether you might want to pay a little bit more to increase your coverage. Paying a bit more to increase these limits can allow you to access policies that have a combination of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverages.

 

What is Uninsured or UnderInsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage

In North Carolina all drivers must have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. If you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist who was at fault and you have a North Carolina insurance policy, your UM coverage can help cover medical bills and property damage.

 

Uninsured Motorist (UM) / Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage

If you are paying a little extra to have higher limits and better coverage, your insurance company’s policies at these higher rates are required to provide combined Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorists (UIM) coverages. Having Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage can make a world of difference.

Here’s how:

If you are in an accident with an at-fault underinsured driver whose policy coverage isn’t actually going to cover all of your own medical bills, your combined UM/UIM coverage may be able to help you cover the remaining costs. For a small amount of extra money per year, it can make a huge difference in your protection.

 

Check out the North Carolina Department of Insurance Consumer Guide for further review of state requirements and limits.

 

What is the very best way to try to get my medical bills taken care of after an accident?

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident and it wasn’t your fault, the most important thing you can do for yourself or your loved one is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to help handle your case. Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help. We have extensive experience untangling insurance policies, maximizing benefits, and advocating for our clients’ physical, emotional, and financial needs. We want to meet you and we want to help.

You’re home now and you’ve done everything right. You stayed at the scene, collected all the information, and didn’t admit fault. You filed a police report. You took pictures of the damages. You’re about to notify the at fault party’s insurance company and let them take over. After all, it’s over now and they’ve got this, right?

Wrong.

As insurance companies get more and more involved in your case, it is  more important than ever that you stay vigilant in the protection of your rights.

 

STAY VIGILANT in Protecting Yourself From Insurance Companies

  1. Notify Your Insurance Company

Provide the information you have diligently collected up to this point about the vehicles and people involved, witnesses, police reports, and photos of the damages. Provide the police report if you can or direct the insurance company to what department has the police report. Give them as much information as you can to support them in doing the right thing. It is important to think carefully about how you communicate with your insurance company. Check out a few do’s and don’ts to help you prepare.

     2. Keep Track of any Medical Treatment or Expenses

If you need medical attention after an accident, keep track of dates, times, and copies of all medical reports and bills. Additionally, strive to keep a journal or otherwise document how your injuries are impacting your daily life. Detail is important, including dates/times, missed workdays, impact on personal activities and engagement in life. This kind of documentation can support claims for pain and suffering compensation.

     3. Get a Property Damage Evaluation

The insurance company will refer you to repair shops in the area to get a damage estimate. However, insurance companies often have a dual relationship with their referral repair shops where they either own or partner with them for referrals. This means that the repair shop has a vested interested in saving the insurance company money wherever they can, even if it means cutting corners on your repairs.

Robert Armstrong recommends seeking out at least two estimates from independent repair shops who do not have a dual relationship with your insurance company. You are more likely to get a straight, unbiased estimate about what is truly needed for your car to run safely again. Having two or more reports to compare against can help you get the best idea of a fair and accurate estimate.

If you are having difficulty identifying where to get an estimate and/or running into roadblocks from insurance companies with your estimates, Robert Armstrong has extensive experience running point in these situations. We can take the fight off your shoulders.

    4. Know Who you are Talking To

It is common for the other driver’s’ insurance company to call to speak with you, ask how you are doing, try to obtain a recorded statement from you, and even offer you early compensation if they believe their driver was at fault and their company could be liable for damages. Be polite and cordial, but very cautious about what you tell insurance adjusters. NEVER agree to give them a RECORDED statement. This is one of the most common ways for you to lose your rights without even realizing it. Do not talk to a representative from another insurance company without the knowledge and/or presence of your insurance company or most ideally – an attorney. 

    5. Early Settlement Offers

Insurance companies may start contacting you with early settlement offers after an accident. They might call it a “settlement offer”, but may be expressing concern about your well being and offering money. This is one of the most effective ways for insurance companies to trick you into giving over your rights, before you even realize what has happened. An early settlement can mean that you have relinquished any further rights to compensation, before the extent of your injuries, medical needs, or vehicle damages are even fully understood. You do not want to give up your rights before you have all of the information you need. Never sign or agree to anything unless you can see it in writing and ideally without an attorney to help you review it.

What is the very best way to protect yourself after an accident from insurance companies?

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident and it wasn’t your fault, the most important thing you can do for yourself or your loved one is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your case. Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help.