Talk to the Insurance Company after a car crash?
In order to have enough knowledge to settle your case, you need to know what your case is worth. Before you can know what your case is worth, you need to know how bad your injuries are and how they affect your life, how long your medical treatment will be, and how much your medical bills are. Although there is no way to know all of this until you are done with your medical treatment, the insurance company for the person who caused the car crash may want to speak to you, and that insurance company may possibly offer you a settlement, before your medical treatment has finished. In almost every case, it is not a good idea to settle your case until you have a clearer picture of your injuries.
There is no requirement in the law that you speak to the at-fault insurance company. Obviously, that insurance company does not have your best interests in mind. Instead, it has its own financial interests and that of the person who caused the crash (its insured) as its main concerns. Someone who was injured in a car crash and doesn’t know his or her rights is an easier target for the insurance company and could possibly be taken advantage of. Every so often we get a phone call from a new prospective client who describes how the at-fault insurance company comes to the scene of the crash or the hospital or to their house to discuss the case and offer to pay some amount of money in exchange for the client to sign a Release in favor of the negligent driver. It is our recommendation that you not speak to or meet with the at-fault insurance company about your case and possible settlement until you are fairly certain of your injuries and damages so that you can have a well-informed dialogue with the insurance company.
Here is an example of what could happen:
John Doe was driving his car west through an intersection on a green light. Another car being driven by Pete Fault was driving his car south at the same intersection, not paying attention and texting while he was driving. Mr. Fault did not see the red light and drove through the intersection at 50 m.p.h. and crashed into Mr. Doe’s car crushing it and causing severe injuries including several broken bones and requiring an emergency room trip, surgery and a stay in the hospital for Mr. Doe.
The day after the crash, the claims adjuster for Mr. Fault’s insurance company called the hospital room, wanting to take a recorded statement from Mr. Doe. Needless to say, Mr. Doe was in extreme pain and was on major pain medication, but the insurance company had no reservations about questioning him regarding the facts of the accident.
Fortunately, Mr. Doe’s wife was in his hospital room when the insurance company called. She made the correct decision and told the insurance company that Mr. Doe was not in good shape to speak to them and that he would be in touch when he felt better. This also may be a good time for Mr. Doe and his family to call a personal injury lawyer to find out what they should and should not do.
Mr. Doe, after getting out of the hospital hired a personal injury lawyer and never spoke to the insurance company. Instead, his lawyer did all of the talking and obtained the maximum amount possible (the policy limits) from the at-fault insurance company once he was finished with his treatment and both he and his lawyer had a better understanding of his injuries and damages.
It is possible that no harm would have come from Mr. Doe talking to the claims adjuster from his hospital bed while on pain medication, but you can be sure the insurance company would have tried to blame the accident on him. If he had been pressured into giving a statement while on heavy duty pain medication no one can be certain what he would have said to the insurance company and could have severely damaged his case.
Again, we want you to understand – you are NOT REQUIRED to speak to the at-fault insurance company and we recommend that you DO NOT until you have, at least, consulted with a personal injury lawyer. When you know your legal rights, you are far less likely to be taken advantage of by the insurance company.
If you have any questions about your legal rights and want to find out what you should do following a car crash, feel free to call us at 561-266-9191 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.