After a car or truck accident it can be hard to keep track of everything that has to be done to recover and move forward, especially if the accident involved severe injuries. Unfortunately, even though you or someone you love is the victim, not everyone is on your side. The insurance company you have to deal with for the negligent driver may try to pressure you into accepting a quick settlement or into making statements that could later damage your case. With so much at stake, it is important to keep a few simple rules in mind when dealing with an auto accident case.
How to Avoid Ruining Your Auto Accident Case
- If the other driver suggests that you don’t get the police involved, don’t listen. Even if the other driver seems nice and apologetic and has openly admitted guilt, you should always call the police. Unfortunately, what often happens is that that nice driver will turn on you later, and claim that they never admitted liability and may even claim that you were at fault. With no police report, you are stuck in a “he said, she said” situation which means you could end up with a big, fat nothing for your injuries.
- Make sure you get the names and contact information of any witnesses. Don’t get distracted by the other driver, who may be trying to keep you from recording this important information. Without witnesses, you won’t have much of a case. Remember, in court it could come down to your word against the negligent driver, and the more witnesses you can line up on your side, the better.
- Always, always get immediate medical care. If you don’t, the insurance company for the negligent driver can easily argue that you must not have been injured – otherwise you would have sought care immediately. Nothing backs up your injury claim better than having proof in the form of a doctor’s visit. Don’t play into the hands of the insurance company – make sure you and the other injured people in your vehicle are taken care of immediately.
- Beware of insurance companies that ask you for a recorded statement – they’re hoping to get to you before you hire a lawyer. Rarely does anything good come of this. The insurance company is hoping that you will “slip up” and they’ll be able to prove that their driver was not at fault, or that you somehow share the blame. Even if you are 100% the victim and it seems crystal clear to you that the other driver is at fault, don’t give a recorded statement.
- In cases when it is clear that the other driver was at fault, their insurance company may offer you a quick settlement. While this may be appealing – and might be tempting in simple cases with minor injuries – never accept a quick settlement for serious accident cases. Insurance companies know that serious injuries or fatalities can result in large payouts, and they will do everything they can to avoid paying up. Not to mention, these quick settlement offers are often ridiculously low and unfair to the victim. Before you accept any deal in a serious auto accident case, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney.
Questions for the Insurance Company
If you’re involved in a serious auto accident where the other driver was at fault, you are likely to hear from the driver’s insurance company in short order. Not only will they want to contact you (see above) but they may also have investigators on the accident scene surprisingly fast. For serious accidents, it isn’t unusual for insurance investigation teams to beat the police and medical teams to the scene!
The insurance company is always looking for ways to make the case against your claim. In order to make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of, there are questions you can ask the negligent driver’s insurance company so they know that you mean business. The way they answer these questions will give you a clue as to how honest and straightforward they’re being with you.
- What are the liability limits for the driver that caused the accident?
- Can you send me a letter that confirms in writing that you are accepting full responsibility for the accident on behalf of your policyholder?
- Can you also confirm in writing that you will pay all medical bills, lost wages, and compensate for pain and suffering?
- Can you provide a written statement from the driver at fault admitting that they caused the accident?
- Can you send me a copy of the claim file so I can see all the details of the accident?
If you are fed up dealing with a negligent driver’s insurance company or if you’re concerned that you aren’t being treated fairly, then you should speak to an attorney. The Virginia based attorneys at Dulaney, Lauer, and Thomas, LLP want to help make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If you or somebody you love is unfortunate enough to be involved in a serious auto accident, truck accident, drunk driving accident, or motorcycle accident our law firm wants to help. Please contact Dulaney, Lauer, and Thomas to discuss your case for no cost and no obligation.
DULANEY, LAUER & THOMAS, LLP
98 Alexandria Pike, Suite 11
Warrenton, VA 20186
Toll Free: 888.907.2631
209 N. West Street
Culpeper, VA 22701
Toll Free: 800.741.1012