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Dealing With the Other Driver’s Car Insurance Company After an Accident

Offered by Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C.

When you’re injured, know your legal rights.

After a car accident, you may have a long road ahead of you to get compensation for your injuries. While the specifics vary from state to state, the insurance companies are a constant: they have a financial incentive to protect their profits, and that means paying injured people as little as possible. You can rest assured that everything they say to you is intended for that purpose.

Understanding their tactics – and why you need legal representation to counter them – is key to finding your path forward. If you’re facing an insurance company for a negligent party after an injury caused by their client, here’s what you need to know.

Avoid volunteering information

Insurance company representatives are trained to ask leading or open-ended questions to prompt you to give them as much information as possible. The best practice on your end is to answer each question as directly and succinctly as you can, without volunteering any additional details.

Above all, don’t give the at-fault driver’s insurance company specific information on your injuries. Tell them you are receiving medical treatment and leave it at that.

Push back on claims you don’t agree with

Again, this gets to the training and direction insurance company representatives get. They will make claims that can damage your claim under the guise of being friendly. You have to push back on those claims in the moment to avoid having them used against you.

For instance, if the representative says, “I’m glad you’re feeling better,” and you are not, in fact, feeling better, then respond succinctly but firmly. “I am still in pain” is plenty.

Don’t give a recorded statement

If the insurance company for the negligent party asks you for a recorded statement or asks for your permission to record a conversation, politely decline. Any recording can be taken out of context or even altered to undermine your case. Moreover, when you give a recorded statement, you don’t have the time to think through and choose your words carefully, which means you might inadvertently say something that harms your case.

Instead, the best practice is to sit down with your attorney to prepare a written statement that tells your side of the story and protects your legal rights. Putting your statement in writing also creates a paper trail and makes it more difficult for the insurance company to later try to dispute or misrepresent your account of what happened.

Be cautious about signing releases

The insurance company for the at-fault party may ask you to sign a medical release, saying it’s necessary to give them access to your doctor’s post-accident medical evaluation or other records directly related to your claim. On its face, that seems reasonable enough. However, some insurance companies may use this as an opportunity to get you to sign an overly broad release that gives them access to all your medical records, even those that have nothing to do with the accident. This is a chance for them to go hunting for pre-existing conditions or other evidence that can help them dispute your claim.

In other words, don’t sign anything without reviewing it with your lawyer first. Only an attorney who is familiar with the system can assess that document and advise you on whether to sign it.

Don’t accept a settlement offer without talking to a lawyer

This bears repeating: don’t sign anything from an insurance company without reviewing it with your lawyer first.

This goes double for settlement offers because once you take the insurance company’s money, that’s it. Your claim is closed and you can’t go back for more. This is why insurance companies offer “lowball” settlements, often soon after the accident. They’re not doing it to be kind or helpful, as much as they may say so. They’re doing it because they know paying you a little bit now is much better for them than the risk of paying you much more down the road.

Some of the costs of an accident take time to become known. Your doctors need time to ascertain whether you will be permanently disabled or require future surgery. An expert witness may be needed to calculate the effects the injury will have on your career. A fair settlement should cover all those long-term costs, not just your immediate medical treatment. Again, the insurance company knows this, and when they make an offer, it’s a calculated play to minimize that risk to their bottom line.

All of which is to say: you need to talk to a lawyer before you take the insurance company’s money. If you accept a settlement, and then the cost of your accident turns out to be higher than the settlement you were offered, there is almost certainly nothing an attorney can do for you at that stage. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

If you’re injured, the best option is to get a car accident lawyer.

When you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your claim, the first thing your lawyer will do is contact the insurance company for the at-fault party (and any other interested parties) to let them know that you are now represented by counsel and all further communications can go to your lawyer, not to you directly. From that point forward, the insurance company for the negligent party legally has to talk to your attorney about your case, and your attorney can respond to their inquiries in a manner that protects your interests.

From a legal perspective, this is a big deal because it levels the playing field. Insurance defense attorneys and adjusters know the system well because they spend every day handling claims. A plaintiff’s attorney with experience handling car accident cases can match their level of experience and ensure that your rights are not undermined by an inadvertent statement or oversight. Moreover, from a pure quality of life perspective, hiring a lawyer means you are free to focus on your health and your family while your attorney deals with the day-to-day interactions with the insurance company.

In short, the best way to deal with a car insurance company after an accident is to get a car accident lawyer in your jurisdiction to deal with them on your behalf. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney in your area today.

Coby L. Wooten, Attorney At Law, P.C. is a personal injury law firm in Fort Worth, Texas.

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Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. is a personal injury law firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of personal injury victims in Fort Worth, Dallas, and throughout the state...