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.