When you’ve been injured in a car accident that isn’t your fault, you want to make sure that you get the compensation you need to pay your bills and fix your car.
That ultimately means making a claim against the other driver’s insurance – but be wary. This is one of those situations where what you don’t know really can hurt you. Insurance companies don’t make money by being generous, and any mistake you make right now could potentially devalue your claim. Here are the big ones to avoid:
Allowing the insurance company to take a recorded statement
Expect the other party’s insurer to try to get everything you say on record – and make it sound like you don’t have an option. Insurance adjusters do this knowing that, in the aftermath of a disorienting crash, you’re more likely to forget important details. Later, your words could be used against you to imply that you’re just making up new information to try to bolster your claim.
Saying anything that could be taken as an admission of fault
Insurance adjusters are also pros at finding ways to twist people’s words around or take them out of context. For example, if you say something like, “I didn’t even see the other driver coming!” that could be turned into “proof” that you were a distracted driver and weren’t paying attention to traffic.
Disclosing too much information about your medical history
Don’t be in a hurry to sign any medical release forms, especially if the insurance company wants records prior to the date of the accident. They’re probably going on a “fishing expedition” to see if they can find any pre-existing conditions they can use to try to devalue your claim. If you do have any pre-existing conditions, expect the insurance company to argue that your medical problems are related to those, not the crash.
Accepting a quick settlement offer in exchange for a release
If the insurer doesn’t waste any time offering to settle, they probably know your claim is worth far more than they’re saying. Don’t fall for this. Once you sign a release form or accept a check marked “final payment,” you are barred from seeking further compensation.
It’s always wisest to have legal assistance with a car accident claim. It’s generally the best way to put a buffer between you and the insurance company in order to protect your future interests.