Should I Talk to the Insurance Company After an Auto Accident?
Sometimes people can do irreparable harm to their own personal injury case by communicating directly with the insurance company. If you are not an attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury cases, then chances are you will not even realize the mistakes you have made in dealing with the insurance company until it is used against you later on in the litigation process. This is because insurance companies train their employees to gather information for the purposes of reducing the value of your claim or denying the claim all together. This is where an experienced Dayton personal injury attorney can save you from yourself and the hassle of dealing with the insurance company. If the insurance company contacts you before you are able to get an attorney, as they often do, here are some tips to help you defend yourself after you have been in a car accident.
1. Don’t feel like you need to talk with the insurance company and answer all their questions immediately after an accident.
People are often flustered, in pain, have been administered medications, and emotions are running high after an accident. During this time, you can get confused or say the wrong thing and that could affect the outcome of your claim. Play it safe, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if having a recorded conversation with an insurance company representative is a good idea or if it is a better idea for your attorney to have this conversation with the insurance company.
2. Tell the insurance company that you have a lawyer or that you will be getting a lawyer and that you do not wish to speak with them about the accident or your injuries.
If the insurance company representative has any ethics whatsoever, the conversation should end immediately and the representative should ask you to have your lawyer give them a call. If on the other hand the insurance company representative asks you to explain why you think you need a lawyer, or try and tell you that you don’t need a lawyer, this is a “red flag” that they are fishing for more information. Don’t bite and politely tell them that your attorney will be contacting them.
3. Know your facts and never guess or speculate about the details surrounding an accident.
Saying “I think……” sounds like you are unsure about what happened and this can open the door to attacking your credibility, especially if you guess wrong. This is especially true when guessing or estimating time, speed, and distance involving vehicles. A savvy accident reconstructionist can take those guestimates and through a series of calculations claim that the accident could not have occurred the way in which you described it. It is okay to say “I don’t know,” if for example, you did not know how fast the car was going when it ran the red light and hit your vehicle. It is always best to go over the facts of an accident with your attorney who can help differentiate between what you know and what you may be assuming or guessing about.
4. If you are not a physician you probably should not be making statements about your physical health.
When someone asks you how you are doing it is common to say “I’m fine…..”. However, you could be crawling out of a smashed car and still say “I’m fine” because you are alive, but not physically fine. As soon as an insurance company hears “I’m fine”, they will claim that any medical treatment you received after that was unnecessary and/or unrelated to the accident. As such, when talking to the insurance company representative, do not tell them that you are “fine.” Let your physician make that determination. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to accurately convey your medical condition to those who need to know without it being misinterpreted.
5. Remember that the insurance company is most likely recording any conversation that you are having with one of their representatives.
While they may claim that they are surreptitiously recording you for quality assurance purposes, we all know it is for an ulterior purpose. In reality, the insurance company is recording the conversation so they can attempt to use it to attack your credibility later on in litigation. This is especially true if you make statements like “I’m fine” or “I think”. The best way to protect yourself from these unscrupulous tactics is not to play into their hands. Never forget that you are dealing with a multi-billion dollar company that makes money by collecting insurance premiums, not paying claims. The safe play is to get an attorney so that you don’t have to worry about every word coming out of your mouth being misinterpreted and used against you in a court of law.
If you have recently been in an accident let our Dayton car accident attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm protect you from the pitfalls of dealing with the insurance company. We have handled thousands of personal injury cases and will maximize your recovery. For a free consultation call (937) 228-2306 or 1-(800)-VERDICT (837-3428), today to speak directly with an attorney who can advise you of your rights.