Being in an accident is a stressful experience. After an accident, you may be surprised by how soon the insurance company reaches out to you. In the early stages after an accident, people often have not spoken to an attorney and are unaware of their legal rights and options. They also may be unaware of how serious their injuries are and how much a potential claim may be worth. Some people don’t realize that the insurance company is not on their side and that the adjuster that reaches out does not have their best interest at heart. It’s important that you do not let the insurance company representative pressure you into anything in the early days after a car accident. It’s in your best interest not to even speak to an insurance representative until you speak to a personal injury lawyer first. There are several best practices people should follow when dealing with an insurance company.
If you were in an accident in Missouri and are wondering how to proceed, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable and trustworthy Kansas City lawyer before you speak with the insurance company or handle any matters. They will explain the claims process and advise you on the best way to proceed to get compensation for your injuries and other damages incurred in your accident. Please contact a Kansas City car accident lawyer at Peterson & Associates, P.C. to learn more about your potential claim during a free legal consultation.
Speaking to an Insurance Company after an Injury
When someone is injured because of another person’s actions in Kansas City, the injured person may be entitled to pursue financial compensation for the damages they’ve suffered. However, the insurance company’s main goals are always to disclaim liability and reduce the amount of money they have to pay out. The insurance company will reach out to investigate a claim to try to build a defense and deny fault. You may start to get calls from insurance company representatives right away and may be in the hospital when they first reach out.
Before speaking to an insurance adjuster or reporting a collision, you should keep in mind the following pieces of advice for speaking with the insurance company:
- Stay calm. Most people are upset and can be worked up after an accident. Remember not to take out your anger on the insurance representative who called you. People often like to recount their experience when in an accident, but the insurance adjuster is not the person to talk to. Do not go into detail about the circumstances surrounding the accident. By remaining calm and polite, might earn you some goodwill with the person you’re speaking to.
- Remember to get their information. You should know precisely whom you’re speaking with and which company they represent. This information will be valuable. Ask them for their name, position, phone number, and company name.
- Limit any personal information you provide. When you report a collision to your insurance company, it is best to stick to the following basic information: you were in a collision, there was property damage, you were hurt, and the other driver gave you his or her insurance information. As far as personal information, only provide your name, address, and phone number. Beyond that, the insurance company does not need to know any other details about your life and finances and you can respectfully decline any inquiries of this nature.
- Do not discuss your injuries. The insurance adjuster will likely ask you about the injuries you suffered. It is not a good idea to talk about your injuries on this call. They will try to diminish your injuries or attribute them to a pre-existing injury. If you do speak with the adjuster, you could mistakenly leave out important details or if your health continues to decline after the accident, you may be limited to what you initially reported in your conversation. The insurance company will use any tactic available to limit your payout, which will harm your claim. It is perfectly acceptable to decline to comment on your injuries.
- Decline to give a recorded statement. The insurance adjuster may ask you to make an official statement on the record, or they may ask to record your phone call. You do not have to authorize this. You are within your rights to say no and decline. You should not give any recorded statements to the other driver’s insurance company, and you also should not give a recorded statement to your insurance company without first speaking to a lawyer. Recording a statement becomes part of the permanent record in your case and could detrimentally hurt your claim for compensation without you even realizing it. Instead, politely refuse to record a statement and refer them to your attorney to speak on your behalf and let the attorney handle the matter for you.
- Don’t sign a medical release. A medical release authorizes an insurance company to obtain medical records directly from your healthcare providers. The problem is this is a blanket authorization that allows insurance companies to access all of your medical records—not just the ones related to your case. Medical records are necessary for your claim but you do not need to give unlimited access. You can control when and what information you provide the insurance company about your medical treatments. Your lawyers can advise you on this matter.
What Not to Say to an Insurance Adjuster
In addition to the aforementioned pieces of advice, there are some important reminders on what not to say to an insurance adjuster. Remember the following tips when speaking to any insurance company representative:
- Do not make any statements immediately after the accident. Your mind and emotions are on high alert after an accident. Let your nerves calm and make sure you are not confused or disoriented before discussing the crash with anyone. Nothing needs to happen immediately after the accident.
- Don’t apologize or admit fault. After the accident, it’s important to be amicable with the other driver and check on their well-being, However, you should not apologize to the other party out of politeness and don’t assume responsibility for the crash. Even if you think it might have been your fault party, you don’t know all facts and all of the contributing factors to the accident. An accident happens in a blink of an eye, and until an investigation is complete, it is too hard to definitively assign blame.
- Don’t say you aren’t hurt. After an accident, emotions are high and cortisol is coursing through your veins. You may think you feel fine, but after your body calms down, injuries often present themselves. Even if you don’t suffer immediately apparent injuries after the crash, you don’t know if other health problems will be diagnosed later. Delayed symptoms are very common after accidents. For example, serious injuries like internal injuries, whiplash, brain bleeding, and neck and back injuries are often detected in the days or weeks following a collision.
- Don’t settle or sign any papers. Don’t let insurance adjusters pressure you into a quick settlement or signing a liability release. It is a mistake to settle your case before you know the full extent of your injuries and have a full understanding of your legal rights.
Contact Peterson & Associates, P.C.
Before speaking to any insurance representatives after a collision, it is a good idea to get help from an experienced car accident attorney. Your attorney can deal with the insurance company on your behalf so that you can focus on your recovery. Your attorney will make sure that your interests are represented professionally and accurately.
If you have been involved in a car accident, the personal injury attorneys at Peterson & Associates, P.C. are standing by to help. Contact a Kansas City car accident attorney at Peterson & Associates P.C. by calling (816) 578-0580 for a free consultation and to learn about your legal rights and options.