If you have been in a car accident in Georgia, one of the first things that you will have to do after the crash is to notify your insurance company. How you interact with them, though, can make a huge difference in the amount of compensation they offer to cover your losses.
The Hadden Law Firm can help you navigate this tricky part of the process.
Insurance Companies Are Not On Your Side
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that do two things to make money:
- Bring in as much money as possible in the form of their clients' premiums, and
- Pay out as little money as possible in the form of claims.
They maximize their intake from premium payments by promising to be on your side if you get hurt in an accident.
Once they have convinced you to buy their insurance coverage, though, and it comes time to make a claim for a loss that is covered by the insurance policy, that second goal moves to the forefront. You can count on your insurance company to either offer you a minimal amount to cover an accident, or even outright deny your claim.
Keeping these interests in mind when you interact with an insurance company can help you understand what to say and what not to say.
What To Say to an Insurance Company After an Accident
Even after a minor accident, you are often contractually obligated to notify your own insurance company of the crash. Not following through on this obligation can lead to them denying your claim. This may be true even if the other driver was at fault. Uninsured motorist coverage, for example, applies if the other driver's insurance is not sufficient to cover your damages, or if the other driver was uninsured, but most insurers require a timely notice of the accident (sometimes using language such as "as soon as possible" after the wreck) or else they may be able to deny coverage. The same may be true of medical payments (medpay) or other first-party insurance.
The most important rule to follow when notifying your insurance company about a crash is to keep it simple. You can tell the insurance representative:
- There was a crash,
- Where the crash happened, and
- Whether your car was damaged.
Saying much more than the bare minimum can do more harm than good in your situation, although it pays to read the insurance policy to confirm that you are not legally obligated to provide more information. Leave it up to them to dispatch a claims adjuster to examine the scene and conduct an investigation.
What Not to Say
Far more important is what not to say to your insurance company after a crash. Obviously, you must tell the insurer the truth, but saying any of the following things can drastically undermine your case and can reduce the offer of coverage that they make if they do make one:
- Accepting responsibility or fault – admitting responsibility for a crash can be used against you, can reduce the settlement package that the insurance company proffers, and will almost definitely lead to a hike in your premiums.
- Volunteer information – talking too much and speculating about what happened will often lead to conflicting statements and an incorrect rendition of what happened, which undermines your credibility.
- Minimize the severity of your injuries – if you downplay how badly you were hurt after a crash, the insurance company will lower the settlement offer, and will use your statements against you if your injuries worsen.
Should I Talk With the Other Driver's Insurance Company?
In some cases, the other driver's insurance company will contact you, or you will have a temptation to reach out to them. This is often a bad idea.
The only time when it can benefit your cause is when the other driver has lied to their insurance company about the details of the crash. Giving a statement to their insurance company could clear things up. However, there is no way for you to know if this has happened. Additionally, if the other driver has in fact lied about the crash in an attempt to dodge responsibility, hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent and protect your interests is the best move you can make. It is common for insurers to use "friendly" recorded statements against an injured claimant down the road when a lawsuit is filed.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
A personal injury lawyer can help you deal with the insurance companies that are involved in the aftermath of a car accident. They understand the motivations of insurance companies and how they will react to a crash. They have also seen the numerous pitfalls that victims fall into when they interact with their insurance company and know how to avoid them.
Finally, the simple act of having legal representation can make your insurance company take your claim more seriously. When they learn that you have hired a lawyer, they will know that they cannot roll over your interests and are more likely to make a higher initial offer that is closer to what you really deserve.
Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer John Hadden at the Hadden Law Firm
John Hadden can work to make sure your insurance company provides the coverage they promised to provide and hold them accountable for bad faith insurance practices.
Contact the firm online to get started today.