Today’s post covers some ideas you should keep in mind when you are involved in an auto accident. If you have any questions regarding your personal injury case, you can contact us using the Free Consultation Form to the right, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 888-820-5885.
I worked as an auto insurance adjuster for several years, and I am familiar with many of the tactics that auto insurance companies employ to evade or diminish payments to people after an auto accident. If you have been involved in an auto accident take the time to educate yourself about these strategies utilized by the insurance company to safeguard the value of your claim.
The first thing you can do is to read your form insurance policies. If you are in North Carolina and were hit by a person in a personal automobile, then take a look at the North Carolina Personal Auto Policy (if you need a copy, contact one of our Durham Personal Injury Attorneys or Greensboro Personal Injury Attorneys, or contact your insurance agent). You need to be aware of your obligations with your own insurance company, such as your duty to inform your insurance company of your accident and your duty to cooperate in your insurance company’s investigation of your accident. Don’t worry, just reporting your accident will not cause your insurance rates to increase (you need to be found at fault for your rates to increase). In addition to reviewing your automobile policy, you should look through your health insurance policy to get an idea of (a) what type of medical coverage you have, (b) what portion of your medical treatment you are responsible for (co-pay, deductible, etc.), and (c) whether you will have to pay your health insurance company back out of the proceeds of your personal injury settlement.
Second, always be extremely cautious when an insurance adjuster asks you for a recorded statement, a medical authorization and especially any type of release (even property damage releases). Because of the possible harm you can do to your claim by giving a recorded statement, we never recommend you give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company without first consulting an attorney (our Durham Personal Injury Lawyer or Greensboro Personal Injury Lawyer is happy to help you prepare for your recorded statement). Also, you should avoid signing any property damage release until you are 100% certain that the release does not waive all of your future claims, such as injury claims or yet-to-be-discovered property damage. Most insurance companies do not actually require you to sign a release in order for you to obtain payment on your property damage, so avoid signing a property damage release if possible. If the insurance company is demanding you sign a property damage release, then ask an attorney to review the release for you (our Durham Personal Injury Lawyers and Greensboro Personal Injury Lawyers are available to review your release for you). Lastly, we recommend against signing any authorizations, as they are almost always overly broad and can be used to obtain information that can be used against you in your case.
Third, before you agree to settle your case, please consider at least talking with a personal injury attorney (again, our Durham Injury Attorney or Greensboro Injury Attorney will assist you with evaluating the settlement value of your proposed settlement). Unless you have handled many personal injury claims in the past, you really are not in a great position to evaluate the fairness of your settlement. Settling your claim and signing a release permanently ends your case, so before you settle and sign a release you should be absolutely certain that you are receiving fair and just compensation for your personal injury case. Most personal injury attorneys will discuss your case with you, and discuss what damages you are entitled to without asking for any fee (our Durham Auto Accident Attorneys and Greensboro Auto Accident Attorneys fit into this category).
Lastly, be prepared to deal with the insurance company’s delay strategy if you are unable to quickly come to a settlement agreement with the insurance company. Typically the insurance company and its insurance adjuster will be very accessible and attentive at the very beginning of your auto accident, and also through the end of your treatment. However, once you have finished your treatment and were unable to immediately come to an agreement on the value of your settlement you will notice your claim progress come to a halt. Suddenly the insurance adjuster will call less frequently, and will return less of your phone calls. Oftentimes your file will be passed around from insurance adjuster to insurance adjuster. This can be problematic because your medical bills may be due (you may notice collectors beginning to call) and your statute of limitations may be nearing (the time-limit to file a lawsuit or settle your claim). If you experience this delay, or expect this delay, consider hiring an attorney to keep your case moving forward or to file a lawsuit (if you are in Durham or Greensboro, our Durham Accident Attorneys or Greensboro Accident Attorneys are available to help move your case forward).
If your auto accident has caused you personal injuries and/or property damage to your car or truck, considering contacting our North Carolina Injury Lawyers, Durham Injury Lawyers or Greensboro Injury Lawyers.