After an accident, how to deal with insurance companies may be the furthest thing from your mind, but it’s actually one of the most important things to think about. Why? Because insurance is likely to be involved at some point, how you deal with the insurance after a car accident can determine whether you receive fair compensation.
And if you’re injured and someone else is to blame, you don’t just need fair compensation — you deserve it. Believe it or not, the things you say and do when dealing with insurance can make or break your case. That’s why we have put together this list of essential tips.
Keep reading to learn how to deal with insurance after an accident. And if you’re ready to seek compensation for your injuries and damages, reach out to the Costa Mesa car accident lawyer at Case Barnett Law.
How to Deal with Insurance After a California Car Accident: 7 Essential Tips
Unless you’ve been in a surprisingly large number of car accidents, you probably haven’t had to speak with insurance adjusters and representatives too often in recent years. The next time you do speak to one, you may be surprised at just how friendly and seemingly helpful they are — don’t fall for it.
Insurers train their employees to do one thing: Find ways to reduce the amount of compensation they have to give you. That’s why you have to come into these conversations armed with some tips and tricks that will help you combat their tactics. To get you started, here are seven of the most important tips for how to deal with insurance after an accident:
1. Don’t Admit Fault
In California, if you are at fault for an accident, you may be liable for the damages that result from that accident. So, if you say anything that an insurer could construe as an admission of your fault in the crash, you may reduce or even destroy your ability to recover a settlement.
That’s another way of saying you shouldn’t admit to wrongdoing or even give too much detail about the crash when speaking with the insurance company. Insurers know all kinds of tricks to make you accidentally say something that could implicate you as the at-fault party.
2. Contact an Attorney
One of the best ways to avoid saying something that could wreck your car accident claim is to let an experienced attorney do the talking for you. Car accident lawyers like those at our firm are all too familiar with the insurance company’s tactics, and we have developed all kinds of counter-methods to help maximize our clients’ claims.
Insurance companies do not want you to get an attorney involved in this situation. They may even try to make you think you have to talk to them before calling a lawyer. You don’t. You are absolutely within your rights to reach out to your attorney of choice before dealing with insurance after an accident.
3. Beware of Recorded Statements
The insurance company may contact you and tell you they are trying to get the details of the accident straight. They might ask you to provide a recorded statement that details what happened. In almost every case, this is a trap designed to catch you saying something wrong that can be used against you when you try to recover compensation.
No matter what the insurer says, you are not legally obligated to provide a recorded statement. And you can always say your attorney would be happy to provide the details of the accident on your behalf.
4. Watch Out for Speedy Settlement Offers
In some cases, insurers will issue a lightning-fast settlement offer — sometimes no more than a day or two after the crash. This may feel like you’ve won, but be careful. Sometimes, these are lowball offers. The insurer wants you to accept less than you are truly owed before you understand just how much money you’re actually entitled to.
Once you’ve accepted the settlement, you will have to pay additional expenses related to your accident and injuries out of pocket. That’s why it’s always a good idea to ask your attorney to review any insurance settlement offer you receive.
5. Don’t Give Too Much Detail About Your Injuries
If the insurer asks you to provide details about the “nature” and “extent” of your injuries, watch out. If you leave out a detail about your injury or your injury gets worse over time, the insurer may refer back to your answer to this question and say you don’t deserve compensation for anything more than what you initially described.
You don’t have to give a detailed story about your injuries to the insurance company. You can tell them you are still assessing your injuries and undergoing treatment and direct them to contact your lawyer for more information.
6. Remember: Insurers Are Not on Your Side
Throughout the process of dealing with insurance adjusters after a car accident, it’s important to routinely remind yourself that the insurance company is not your friend. They will try to be overly friendly because they want you to let your guard down, but ultimately, they’re not on your side.
They’re on their own side, and their top priority is reducing the amount of money they have to give you.
7. Document the Accident and Your Injuries
You can never have too many photos or videos of your injuries and the accident scene. The worst that can happen is that you don’t end up needing all of them. The best that can — and often does — happen is that your documentation of the accident proves your side of the story and strengthens your case for full compensation.
If it’s safe to do so, try to get as many photos and videos of the accident as possible. That includes your vehicle and any other involved vehicles, the immediate surrounding area, your injuries, and the injuries of anyone else involved. As for your injuries, it’s also helpful to take photos of them every few days to show how you are or are not recovering over time.
Bonus Tip: Contact Case Barnett Law
No matter how much you try to learn about how to deal with insurance after an accident, you’re still at risk of making mistakes. And in this situation, mistakes can cost you.
But what if you had a legal ally who has dealt with, negotiated with, and fought insurance companies countless times? Wouldn’t you and your case be better off?