February 6, 2013
Article By William Dorsey.
Contact Us With Your Personal Injury Law Questions.
Many people who are injured in auto accidents worry about taking the proper steps, and avoiding missteps, related to their case. This is a very valid concern, as the things you do, or avoid doing, in the days and weeks after your accident may radically alter the amount of compensation you ultimately receive.
If you are contacted by an insurance company, other than your own, it is important to keep in mind that this insurance company is not a court or an arbitrator, and it is not their job or objective to determine the true amount of your damages. They are a business whose job it is to minimize their payouts. They do not seek a “just” outcome; they seek the most cost-effective outcome for them.
To this end, they may employ wide range of tactics and methods to accomplish this goal. It is important to prepare yourself accordingly. First, you should strongly consider retaining an attorney to represent you. These cases often involve technical knowledge of the law and legal procedure that most lay persons, even bright, educated lay persons, do not have. The insurance company has attorneys with this knowledge and experience. You should seriously contemplate having one, too.
Also, you should avoid talking to the insurance company. This includes that company’s adjusters or their lawyers. These people may try to record what you tell them, or twist your words to try to place them in a different context, or give them a different meaning that you did not intend. They may try to persuade you to admit that you were at fault, either partially or fully. They may also try to convince you to sign a written statement, which they may use against you later in court. It is important that you make no statement, or sign any document, at the behest of the insurance company unless your attorney is present, or you have consulted your attorney in advance. Remember, their goal is to minimize their payout, and the point of eliciting these oral or written statements from you is to use them against you later to reduce the value of your case.
Alternately, representatives of the insurance company may try to pressure you into settling your case. They may use a variety of techniques to settle your case for less than it is actually worth. It is important that you avoid this, because once you agree to, and accept, a settlement, the insurance company will also make you sign papers where you relinquish your right to bring future lawsuits against as a result of this accident. That means that, even if you later discover that your injuries are far more serious than you originally thought, you still cannot re-negotiate your settlement or reopen your case. By avoiding entering into an unwise early settlement, you can take time to consult medical professionals, and an attorney, to ensure that you, and your team of experts, have a complete picture of the nature and extent of your injuries, which is vital to determining what settlements you should accept, or reject.