Even though we understand driving involves a risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident, we don’t expect another car to crash into us. It’s important to know what to do so you can avoid mistakes that will hurt your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. I am sharing the most common mistakes I see people make who have hired me to handle their car accident case after they tried to deal with the other driver’s insurance adjuster on their own.
1. You Do Not Get Immediate Medical Attention
Typically after a car accident, the police arrive and then the ambulance with EMTs or paramedics. It is common for people to dismiss the need for medical attention at the accident scene. This may be because of the shock after an accident or any pain seems minor. However, it is best to get medical attention immediately (or as soon as possible) because injuries make take time to fully develop. Another reason is insurance companies try to use any delay in seeking medical attention to argue the accident-related injuries are not serious because you waited to get medical treatment or the injuries are unrelated to the car accident.
2. You Give a Recorded Statement
Soon after a car accident, the other driver’s insurance may ask for a recorded statement or interview about the accident. Unlike with your insurance company, there is no requirement that you give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company. The interview will be taken by an experienced insurance adjuster. The risk to you is that they know how to ask the questions and they will try to use your answers against you to deny that their insured was at fault or minimize your damages.
3. You Give Your Medical Records
An adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company may request that you sign an authorization to see all your medical records. This is a mistake. At the appropriate time, it will be necessary to provide the insurance company medical documentation concerning your injuries and medical treatment. But by signing a medical authorization for the insurance company, the adjuster will be able to receive medical records not connected to the car accident. This will allow the insurance to “fish around” in your medical history hoping to find anything to use against you.
4. You Accept a Low-Ball Offer
As noted above, the other driver’s insurance company has an experienced adjuster reviewing your accident claim. Soon after the accident (and likely before you hire an experienced car accident lawyer), insurance companies sometimes make low settlement offers because a lot of people accept them. Why? Because most people do not know the value of their claim and are entitled to more money. A very important reason to reject a cheap settlement offer is the risk that you later learn your injuries are worse than you realized. And once you settle, it let’s the insurance company off the hook for your injuries and future medical treatment.
5. You Settle Your Case Before Finishing Your Medical Treatment
When you accept the offer from the insurance company, you will not collect more money later if you discover that you have other medical issues or need further treatment. Because you won’t be compensated for such medical costs, it is best to wait until your doctor advises you that you no longer need treatment or you have a good understanding of your medical condition.
If you have been in a motor vehicle accident, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.