It's a fact of life that accidents happen—often unexpectedly and with consequences we never anticipated. An accident not only disrupts your everyday life, but it also ushers in a flurry of tasks that require your attention, including dealing with insurance companies. In these times, you need the right information—something that only a qualified attorney can provide you with.
If you suffered a collision, reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer in Atlanta for more information about your legal options and rights. A car accident lawyer can help you make the decisions that will protect your privacy, your financial interests, and your well-being.
Many people don’t know that certain statements or admissions could harm their personal injury claim. A car accident lawyer can guide you through your post-accident journey, starting with explaining what you should not disclose to your insurance company.
1. Don’t Admit Fault or Speculate About the Accident
Never admit fault, even if you believe you may have contributed to the accident. Stick to the facts when you speak with your insurance company. Avoid speculation or assumptions about what might have caused the accident or how you could have avoided it. Your insurer can misconstrue opinions or hypothetical scenarios as admissions of fault.
An accident may involve factors you didn’t consider. The other driver may have driven while intoxicated, or their vehicle may have malfunctioned. Therefore, even if you believe you may bear some responsibility, never admit anything until your lawyer completes a thorough investigation.
Determining fault involves a complex process that considers law enforcement reports, traffic laws, witness testimonies, and physical evidence from the scene. Leave this process to your attorney.
Consult a personal injury attorney before making any statements to your or the other party's insurance company. They can guide you on what to say to avoid unintentionally harming your claim or lawsuit.
Admitting fault can dramatically affect your ability to recover compensation for your injuries, so never do so without thoughtful consideration and professional advice.
2. Don’t Downplay Your Injuries
Never minimize your injuries or the impact the accident has on your life. If you state to your insurance company that you're fine when you're not, it could use this against you later if you pursue a personal injury claim.
After an accident, adrenaline and shock may mask the true extent of your injuries. You might feel inclined to brush off any pain or discomfort and assure everyone you're fine, but never downplay your injuries, as insurance companies base the compensation you receive primarily on their severity. If you underestimate your injuries, the insurance company may offer you a lower settlement that may not cover all your medical expenses, lost income, and other damages.
For example, suppose you sustain a whiplash injury in a car accident. While you might initially feel just slight discomfort, whiplash injuries can progressively worsen over time, causing substantial pain and requiring extensive treatment. If you told your insurance company or the other driver immediately after the accident that the accident did not injure you, you could make it challenging to claim compensation for the whiplash injury later on.
Not all injuries immediately appear after an accident. Some may take days or even weeks to manifest. Delayed but serious injuries, like certain brain or soft tissue damage, can cost thousands to treat. Therefore, seek immediate medical attention following an accident, even if you feel fine.
A medical professional can evaluate you for any potential injuries, including those you might not immediately notice. The documentation from this medical examination can also serve as vital evidence in your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, linking your injuries directly to the accident.
If your insurance company asks how you are, say you don't fully know until a medical professional thoroughly examines you. Uncertainty beats the insurance company denying or devaluing your claim because you downplayed your injuries.
Finally, report any new symptoms to your doctor and your insurance company as soon as they emerge. This continued reporting shows a consistent pattern and helps build a strong, credible claim. Remember, you need accurate reporting of your injuries to receive the compensation you need to recover.
3. Don't Overstate Your Injuries
While you need to fully communicate the extent of your injuries, avoid embellishment. Suppose you suffered a minor whiplash injury, but you tell the insurance company that you can hardly move because of severe neck pain. If your medical reports do not corroborate this, the insurer could use your exaggeration against you, leading it to question your honesty. This can jeopardize your claim. Always truthfully describe your symptoms and their impact on your daily life.
When in doubt, say less to protect your rights and interests. Hire a personal injury lawyer to speak with the insurance company for you.
4. Don’t Agree to Give a Recorded Statement
While you must cooperate with your insurance company, you never need to give a recorded statement. An insurance company will use recorded statements to get you to inadvertently admit fault or contradict yourself. Decline to provide a recorded statement. Speak with your personal injury lawyer instead.
5. Don't Disclose Previous Injuries or Accidents
When discussing your current accident, do not bring up previous injuries or accidents unless specifically asked. An insurance adjuster may link your current injuries to past injuries to devalue your claim.
For instance, if you had a back injury a few years ago, and now you suffer from a similar issue after the accident, the adjuster may argue that the injury is recurring, not directly caused by the accident. Always discuss such matters with your attorney before revealing them to the insurance company.
Insurance companies may request your medical records to verify the injuries you sustained from the accident. While you may need to provide information about the injuries relevant to your current claim, never grant the insurance company unlimited access to your entire medical history.
Insurance companies are businesses that always look to limit their liability and expenses. With unlimited access to your medical records, they may connect your current injuries to previous health issues.
For example, suppose you're claiming compensation for a back injury from the accident, and your medical records show an episode of back pain a decade ago. The insurance company may argue that your injury was pre-existing and not a result of the accident.
To avoid this, provide only the relevant medical records pertaining to the injuries caused by the accident. Let a personal injury lawyer review the medical authorization form before you sign it. They can ensure that the form only allows access to pertinent records and protects your privacy.
Additionally, control and moderate ongoing communication between your doctors and the insurance company. All requests for information should go through you, or, better yet, your lawyer, allowing you to monitor what information you agree to share.
Safeguard the privacy of your broader medical history. Providing too much information could harm your claim, so ask your lawyer for a careful review of what you release to the insurance company.
6. Don't Discuss Details of Your Life Unrelated to the Accident
Maintain the focus of your discussions on the accident and your resulting injuries. Divulging unnecessary personal or lifestyle information could provide the insurance adjuster with opportunities to discredit your claim.
Insurance adjusters may engage you in friendly conversation to build rapport and trust. Remain polite and cooperative, but know that any information you provide, even seemingly unrelated to the accident, might undermine your claim.
For example, suppose you casually mention that you went to the gym or played a sport despite your injuries. The adjuster could interpret this as evidence that your injuries aren't as severe as you claimed, or suggest that the activities could have contributed to or worsened your injuries.
Similarly, if you share that you're planning a vacation or any other substantial expense, the adjuster might infer that you're financially comfortable and therefore don't need a large settlement. They could even use your job or hobbies against you. For instance, if you have a physically demanding job or hobby, the adjuster might argue that those activities, not the accident, caused or exacerbated your injuries.
Keep your conversations focused solely on the accident and your injuries. If an adjuster tries to engage you in an unrelated conversation, politely steer the conversation back to the accident. Better yet, refer them to your lawyer. Remember, the adjuster's job is to save the insurance company money, and they will use any details you provide toward that end.
7. Don't Neglect to Report Any Additional Damages
Immediately after an accident, you might focus only on the most visible damages or injuries. However, as days pass, you might identify additional damages to your vehicle or experience delayed symptoms of an injury.
Report any additional damages as soon as you notice them. For instance, if you start experiencing headaches or dizziness a few days after the accident, it could indicate a concussion or other serious injury that didn't initially appear. Promptly seek medical attention and notify your lawyer so they can include it in your claim.
If you lose your vehicle due to a car crash, you may need to pay for alternative transportation. You can recover compensation to modify your home for the sake of mobility. Your lawyer will make a more comprehensive analysis of your losses and include these in your accident claim.
8. Don't Forget to Document Your Conversation
Create a record of your interactions with the insurance company. Jot down key points from each conversation, including the date, time, the name of the person you spoke with, and the main topics discussed. For instance, if an adjuster mentions a pending review of your vehicle damage or a future settlement discussion, documenting these details can help you track the progress of your claim and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
9. Don't Accept an Initial Settlement Without Consulting a Lawyer
Insurance adjusters may attempt to settle your claim quickly, sometimes even before you fully understand the extent of your injuries. Once you accept a settlement, you waive your right to seek any further compensation.
Consult a lawyer before accepting any settlement offers. Without a lawyer, you can struggle in the long term after an insufficient settlement offer and mounting medical bills leave you high and dry. A lawyer can recover the resources you need to provide for yourself after an accident