Car accidents always involve insurance companies. The extent of involvement depends on the circumstances of the crash and the type of coverage, but, one way or another, a car insurance company will make an appearance after a collision in Miami. How injured accident victims deal with car insurance companies and insurance claims adjusters can make a difference in the outcome of the claim. Here are a few tips from the Miami car accident attorneys at Lipcon & Lipcon.
It can be difficult to know whose side your insurance agent is on – yours or the company’s. Luckily, there are things you can do and say during conversations with your insurance company to protect your rights and interests. It begins with reviewing these five pieces of information before making your first phone call.
Your Insurance Policy
First and foremost, review your insurance policy for crucial details about collision coverage and reporting; different companies have various rules for how and when to report a collision in Miami. Ignoring these rules can hurt your chances of receiving insurance coverage. It could even put you at risk of fraud allegations. You can typically access the full text of your policy online through your provider’s website. Look up reporting requirements as well as what type of coverage you have so you can better prepare for your discussion with an agent. Double-check that your coverage has not lapsed. You will need your insurance policy number handy when you make your phone call.
The Details of the Accident
At the scene of the accident, gather as much information as you can before seeking emergency medical attention for any injuries. Collect the name of the other driver and his/her insurance information. Get the names of any eyewitnesses and other imperative information like the number of vehicles involved, where the crash occurred, and the weather at the time of the accident. If you reported the accident to the police, you will need the police report number. When you report the wreck to your insurance company, the agent will ask you to describe your accident in detail. The more accurate your story is, the better. Do not admit fault during this process. Simply state the facts of what happened.
Photographs of the Damages
Ideally, you took photographs at the scene of the accident of all vehicle damages, personal injuries, and other imperative factors such as blocked stop signs or debris in the roadway. Use these photographs to more accurately depict the extent of damages involved in the collision while on the phone with your insurance company. Tell the insurance agent that you took photographs, and they are available for review if needed.
You may have sustained serious injuries in the accident and had to go straight to the hospital from the scene. If this is the case, you have until you can reasonably do so to call your insurance company and file the report. Before you make the call, gather your medical information. This may include x-rays, treatment schedules, write-ups from physicians, and any bills incurred so far. The insurance company may request an overview of your injuries or an estimate of the price of medical costs.
After you speak with your insurance company, adjusters from the other driver’s company may call you. If it feels like the insurance adjuster handling your case is more interested in closing it quickly than helping you, it’s probably because he or she has a quota to fill. Do not let a claims adjuster convince you to make a statement or accept a settlement offer you don’t feel comfortable with. Speak to an attorney before talking with adjusters for a rundown of what your case might be worth. This can help you protect your rights and get the most out of your insurance claim and/or settlement after a car accident.
After attending to yourself and others at the car accident scene and prepping for your insurance call, it’s time to actually do it. While necessary, it’s important you remain calm and are thinking clearly when speaking with your agent.
There are a few things you do and do not want to say when talking with your insurance case; the 5 tips below could help keep or swing the car accident case in your favor.
Avoid Admitting Fault
It can be tempting to apologize to the other driver or to tell the insurance company the accident was your fault. Resist this urge. Even if you believe you were responsible for the crash, wait for police or a judge to assign fault. There may be factors you aren’t aware of that contributed to the wreck, such as dangerous roadway conditions or negligence on the part of the other driver. Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning you could still recover damages even if you were partially at fault for the crash. Admitting fault can ruin your chances of receiving compensation.
Stick to the Facts
During your discussions with insurance companies and claims adjusters, do not speculate or make guesses at to what happened. If you can’t answer certain questions, simply say you don’t know. Keep to the hard facts of the crash, such as which direction you were traveling and how fast. Stating facts instead of conjecture can help investigators accurately recreate what happened and assign fault to the responsible party. It can also prevent legal problems if the insurance company believes you were purposefully lying or trying to commit fraud.
Don’t Issue a Statement
An insurance claims adjuster from the other driver’s car insurance company may contact you as soon as the day of the accident. The adjuster may be an employee of the company or from an independent firm. It is the adjuster’s job to settle your claim for as little money as possible. You’ll find that the adjuster typically knows much less about the accident than you do. He or she sees 50 to 100 new claims every month. The adjuster only has a few minutes to review your file. You can have the advantage over the adjuster by refusing to issue an official statement. The adjuster can use anything you say in a statement against you later. For example, if you state that you weren’t hurt, but then discover an injury a week later, the adjuster could assert that you claimed you didn’t have an injury.
Wait to Settle Your Claim
If your goal is to accept a settlement as fast as possible, regardless of what your case is worth, feel free to take an insurance adjuster’s first offer. However, know that this offer is typically much less than you could receive through a personal injury claim. The adjuster doesn’t work for you – he/she works for the company. The adjuster will have a maximum limit of how much he or she can offer depending on the adjuster’s level of work experience. Don’t fall prey to the adjuster’s limitations. Before accepting a quick settlement, consult with an attorney to discover the true value of your claim.
Call an Attorney
You can call an attorney at any time during the insurance claims process. An attorney can take over communications with insurance companies and claims adjusters on your behalf to protect your best interests. A lawyer can walk you through the process and give you advice for what to say and what not to say to maximize your chance of fair recovery. When in doubt, call an attorney. Most Miami law firms offer free case evaluations, so you have nothing to lose in making that first phone call.