When you are involved in a collision caused by a negligent driver, the situation can be both stressful and confusing. Although you might have the right to legal compensation for your injuries, property damage, pain and suffering, and more, you must be careful to protect the value of your claim especially when dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. When you deal with the other party’s insurer, you might be communicating with an adjuster who seems cordial and even helpful, but the adjuster’s loyalties remain with his or her employer. The viability and value of your claim will depend on effective interaction and communication with the other driver’s insurance company. In this blog, we provide three suggestions for protecting your right to compensation when dealing with the other driver’s insurance company.
Tip # 1 – Get Legal Advice ASAP: The best option when dealing with a negligent driver’s insurance company is to retain an experienced car accident injury attorney. Experienced traffic collision lawyers handle many vehicle injury claims, so they know how to build the value of your claim and avoid pitfalls and traps set by insurance companies. Even if the adjuster seems friendly and cooperative, insurers do not make a profit by paying the maximum value of a claim. Rather, the insurer will look for grounds to deny the claim or extend a lowball offer. When you hire an experienced car accident lawyer, the attorney’s objective will be to pursue your interests and to maximize the value of your claim. Even if the attorney settles the case with the insurance company, insurance industry studies have found that claimants represented by counsel obtain substantially larger recoveries than unrepresented parties even after attorney fees are deducted from the recovery. If the case proceeds to trial, an attorney becomes indispensable to navigate the complex civil litigation system, procedures, and rules that include but are not limited to the rules of evidence, code of civil procedure, court rules, complex legal standards, and much more.
Tip #2 – Avoid Settling Too Soon: When you are off work and bombarded by medical bills, you might experience intense pressure to settle while your medical treatment is ongoing. Generally, the insurance company will require that you sign a document like a “Release of Liability”, “General Release”, or some related form. If you are still receiving treatment for your injuries and the healing process is not complete, you should avoid settling before your medical condition has fully resolved or improvement has ceased. Settling to early could mean that you must undergo surgeries, treatments, and rehabilitation that the insurance company does not consider part of your expenses when making a settlement offer. Injury victims should wait until their doctors do not anticipate any further improvement in their medical condition so that all their injuries, medical bills, and future therapeutic and rehabilitative needs can be fully considered.
Tip #3 – Do Not Sign Anything or Agree to an Interview without Legal Advice: The other driver’s insurance company may contact you and request an interview or ask you to sign documents to facilitate an investigation into your claim. The insurance company’s status as a “for profit” business means that its financial interests are directly in conflict with your own. You should obtain legal advice and/or representation before signing any form provided by the other driver’s insurer or agreeing to an interview. An experienced auto accident lawyer can analyze any documents or interview questions to voice appropriate objections and limit the scope of the questioning. For example, an authorization for the release of documents might legitimately seek payroll records to evaluate an injury claim seeking lost wages, but this permission should be limited to protect the injured party’s privacy.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a traffic accident, a knowledgeable accident injury lawyer can outline your rights and advise you on the best way to protect the value of your claim for compensation.
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