Vehicle accidents are often very traumatic for everyone involved. You may have physical pain from injuries and emotional pain from having your life suddenly upended. You experience stress from the damage to an expensive piece of your property and the uncertainty of what will happen next. In the midst of all your upheaval, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and sign anything from the insurance company just to have it all over with.
This stress is the very reason to slow down, take a deep breath, and give serious consideration to your next steps. Here are seven tips for dealing with auto insurance companies in the aftermath of an accident:
- Contact your insurance company.
You should notify your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. You should, however, wait until you are calm and collected and not call in the heat of the moment from the accident scene. Remember that everything you say in telephone calls is likely being recorded, and details you give incorrectly while you are in a confused state could be used against you later.
If the other driver was at fault, their insurance company may contact you to offer compensation for your injuries. At that point it is best to let your injury attorney speak with adjustors about your claim in order to ensure you receive fair compensation.
- Watch your words.
Be careful how you express yourself when talking to your insurance company. Don’t give a lot of unnecessary information; concentrate on answering their questions directly and with just the information required.
- Document your case for your own records.
Take some time as soon as possible after the accident to write down or type everything you remember. Keep this document for your own records and for reference later when you speak to your attorney. Don’t hand your notes over directly to any insurer but use them to help you with a formal written statement if necessary.
Each time you speak with anyone from insurance companies, medical providers, or attorneys’ offices, add it to your documentation. Write down the time and date of the conversation, the name and employer of who you spoke with, and a summary of what was discussed.
- Monitor your physical well-being in the days after the accident.
Whiplash and deep tissue injuries often do not present themselves until days after the accident. If you find yourself extremely sore or dealing with neck, shoulder, or back pain in the days following an accident, it is imperative that you promptly schedule a visit with your primary care physician and consider seeing a chiropractor.
- Gather all documentation for your own records.
The insurers will obtain the car accident report from the police, but you should do the same so that you have your own copies of everything. Your documentation should include:
- Police reports
- Copies of traffic citations issued to all parties
- Your written notes on what occurred
- Names and contact information for any witnesses
- Photographs of the accident scene and damage to vehicles
- Photographs of your injuries
- Medical records and bills
- Do your own research on the cost of repairs.
Don’t take the insurance company’s word about the cost of your repairs. Get multiple estimates on the price of fixing your vehicle. You will be able determine if your settlement offer is a good one that will truly cover your costs in getting your vehicle back on the road.
- If you have serious injuries, don’t rush to settle.
In most states you have up to two years to settle your claim or file a lawsuit. If your injuries are serious, you could have chronic problems leading to ongoing medical bills down the road. If you have already settled, you may not be able to get help with those costs. Make sure that you are completely healed and fully understand the extent of any long-term health issues before you agree to a settlement.
If you have any questions about your rights with your own insurance company or the insurance companies for other drivers, contact a litigation firm like the Law Offices of Robert L. Hill, APC Remember that the insurance company’s ultimate goal is the health of their bottom line, not yours. If you make sure that you have someone entirely on your side through the process, you can be confident you will achieve the best possible outcome.