Why you should hire experienced attorneys immediately to handle your car accident claim
When you’ve been injured in a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will get to work immediately to protect their negligent driver. They have a team of adjusters and lawyers who will use legal tricks and traps to protect themselves and minimize your injury claim. Luckily, our team of experienced car accident attorneys know exactly how to protect your legal rights. When you hire our law firm, we will guide you through the legal system, investigate your case fully, and will be prepared to take your case to court if the insurance company doesn’t make you a reasonable and fair settlement offer. Learn more about the tricks insurance companies use to avoid paying claims.
What to expect from the car accident claims process
Don’t be afraid to find out your rights after a Houston car accident and pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries. A lot of victims avoid seeking help because they fear the unknown.
After decades of handling these types of cases, we know what will happen. The insurance company and its representatives will pull any trick in the book to avoid compensating you for your injuries. They’re counting on you not knowing what to do. The claims process can be lengthy and confusing, but we can help.
When should you contact an attorney after a car accident?
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering if you need to contact a car accident attorney. Often, your answer depends on the details of the accident. Insurance companies can be difficult to work with and it’s very common for them to offer a low settlement even for incidents with significant injuries. Experienced car crash attorneys will be able to negotiate a better settlement with the insurance company than you can on your own.
In the case where a settlement cannot be reached, a lawsuit becomes the only option. Even if you already settled with your insurance company, it’s possible under certain circumstances to bring legal action against them. If you aren’t sure if you should contact an attorney, you probably should.
The insurance company is trained to trick injured car accident victims
Insurance companies have trained adjusters and attorneys ready to do what they can to make sure you are not fairly compensated for your injuries. Read on to learn how they use recorded statements to trick you into saying something that could hurt your case and how to tell if the insurance company is trying to fool you.
Should I give a recorded statement after a car accident?
After a car accident, you can expect insurance companies to be pounding on your door (not literally, of course) and calling you asking for your statement. They will probably say that they’re just “gathering information,” but their real goal is to trick you into making statements that might hurt your case. It is important that you are very careful about what you tell the insurance adjuster, especially if you don’t have an attorney. It’s always better to refuse to give a recorded statement until you hire an experienced car accident attorney who understands the tricks insurance companies will try to pull in these situations. Find out more about why it’s is smart not to trust insurance companies after you have been injured.
Am I required to give a recorded statement to the other person’s insurance adjuster?
When you’ve been in a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company will call you in an attempt to pressure you into giving a recorded statement. You are under no obligation to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. After a serious injury or wrongful death, you may not be in a position to provide an accurate and complete statement anyway. Anything you say to the adjuster may be twisted and used against you later, as these adjusters are highly skilled manipulators who want to record your statement for that very reason, and that’s where we come in. Read more about how giving a recorded statement could hurt your claim.
How do I know if the insurance company is trying to trick me?
If you want to know if the insurance company is trying to trick you regarding your accident, ask them these questions and see what they say:
- Before you take my statements, will you admit liability, put it in writing, and have the insurance company sign the letter?
- Before you take my statement, will you promise to pay for all my medical care until I am 100% recovered, and will you put that promise in writing, too?
- Before you take my statement, may I see a copy of your investigation file for this case?
- Before you take my statement, can I take a recorded or written statement from the person who hit my car?
- Before you take my statement, will you promise to settle my claim and send the settlement check within 30 days?
Most insurance adjuster won’t answer these questions or follow through with the commitments brought up during questioning. That’s because they aren’t really trying to help you settle your case quickly or determine what’s wrong with you so they can pay your claim. They’re trying to minimize what they owe you.
What if I can’t avoid giving a statement or have already given one?
While avoiding a statement is almost always the best choice, preparing yourself for a statement is probably the second best choice. If you feel like there is no way you can avoid giving some kind of statement to the insurance company, here are some tips:
- Speak with an attorney first. Remember that a recorded statement is probably not legally required, and victims who offer these statements before speaking with an attorney can easily wreck their claims without realizing it. If you absolutely must give a recorded statement, you can schedule a time to speak with the insurance company after you have a better understanding of your rights.
- Keep answers short and to the point. While you always want to be honest about what happened, you also don’t need to offer more information than is being asked for. Whether you are filling out the police report or talking to an insurance adjuster, keep your responses short and sweet unless you are speaking with your own legal counsel.
- Don’t guess if you don’t know. Victims may be asked to estimate details like speeds or distances while speaking to the adjuster, but it may be wise to avoid guessing if you’re not sure. Instead of feeling pressured to offer a guess, don’t be afraid to simply say that you don’t know and that it’s only a guess if you are pressed to offer an estimation or opinion.
If you’ve already given a recorded statement to the insurance company, don’t panic because there may still be time to save your claim. This is the most common mistake people make after they are in a car accident. Depending on the details of what you said and what happened, you could still build an injury claim that is stronger than the words being used against you, but you’re probably going to need help.
If you’ve given a recorded statement, receiving compensation for your injuries may be more difficult. First, become informed about your rights so you can avoid further mistakes. Then, talk to an attorney who has experience with complicated auto accident claims. Make sure you reach out to an attorney who can give you personalized attention, offer honest information about how the recorded statement might affect you, and has the skills and knowledge required to make sure a small mistake doesn’t become a big problem later on.
The insurance company says I don’t need a lawyer. Are they right?
During their initial visit with you, insurance adjusters will try to talk you out of contacting a personal injury attorney. They may even bad-mouth lawyers in general. What they won’t tell you is that the insurance company may have hundreds of attorneys on retainer working around the clock examining your claim for ways to minimize or even eliminate it. Some insurance companies will send letters to people involved in accidents that tell the injured person that they don’t need an attorney. Since 1995, for example, Allstate has been sending a letter entitled “Do I Need an Attorney?” which makes the following misleading claims, among others:
- Claims are settled faster when a lawyer is not involved.
- Lawyers charge a percentage of recovery, but if you settle directly with Allstate, you get to keep the entire amount.
- Injury victims can hire a lawyer later if they don’t like the settlement offer.
The letter includes many other statements that are misleading, half-true, or not true at all. In fact, the insurance company’s own statistics prove that it costs the insurance industry an average of $9,000 more per claim when the injured person has a lawyer. The reason the insurance companies try to convince people not to hire an experienced lawyer is because they know they can settle the case more cheaply if the injured person doesn’t have a lawyer.
The real truth is that talking to a personal injury attorney can only help your claim. A lawyer who is experienced in handling personal injury claims can walk you through your claim and give you a sense of the compensation you deserve after you’re hurt. Even if you don’t wind up hiring an attorney, that initial discussion will help you navigate the claims system and obtain a better settlement. If the insurance company is trying to convince you not to hire a lawyer, you should know right away that they are trying to trick you into settling your case for pennies on the dollar. Talking to an attorney will only strengthen your claim.
How can I avoid falling for the insurance company’s tricks?
Insurance companies play a game with you when you try to make your injury claim you will never win because they made up all the rules to benefit themselves. However, there is a lot you can do to protect yourself and avoid falling for their tricks:
- Don’t delay receiving medical care.
- Write down everything you remember about the accident, including information about the exact accident location, weather, time of day, the presence of witnesses—anything you recall.
- Get a copy of the police report.
- Don’t sign anything from the insurance company until you talk to a lawyer.
- Don’t give the insurance company a recorded statement.
- Don’t sign a blanket medical release form.
- Don’t settle quickly.
- Don’t mess around with your future and your family’s well-being—get advice and guidance from an experienced attorney before making any decisions about your case.
The role of a reputable accident lawyer isn’t about helping victims get rich, it’s about victims having enough money to pay for the months, years, or even a lifetime of medical care they’ll need after a bad accident. For most serious injuries and accidents, you absolutely must consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer if you want to fight for the full worth of your claim. Once your case is in the hands of a qualified injury attorney, the insurance company can no longer play by its own made-up rules, but must abide by the rules of our legal system.
Fortunately, the rules of our civil justice system are mostly fair to injury victims, and they are certainly much fairer than the insurance company’s rules. If you believe the insurance company is using any of these tactics against you, contact an attorney right away.
What is included in a car accident police report
The police report usually includes a lot of important information, such as:
- When and where the accident happened. This means that the police report is often referred to again and again as an official document for establishing these kinds of basic facts.
- A diagram of the scene. For more serious auto crashes, the officer will take pictures and maybe even call in the police “accident reconstruction” team to do a detailed analysis of the crash.
- Statements from the people involved. Usually, the officer will record what each driver says about how the wreck happened. Sometimes, an officer will also document what passengers or witnesses at the scene have to say about the incident.
- The officer’s conclusions. Typically, the officer will write a brief narrative of his or her opinion on how the accident happened and complete a “factors & conditions” section indicating who, or what, caused the wreck. Sometimes, an officer will also record any citations issued.
- Property damage. Officers will document the location and extent of the property damage to all involved vehicles, as well as indicate whether or not each vehicle was towed from the scene.
- Injuries. Police officers usually document whether anyone was hurt in the wreck, and they will usually also indicate the severity of any injuries.
- Ambulance transport. If anyone is taken from the accident scene by ambulance, the officer will record the ambulance company and the hospital where the person was taken.
Why it matters what the police report says about your car accident
A police report establishes when the accident happened, what happened during the incident, who was involved, and maybe even who is at fault. It is a key document if you later decide to file an injury claim. Police reports are public documents, and you should know that your statements in that report will be available to the other driver’s insurance company, the attorney involved, and nearly anyone else who wants a copy.
This also means that the other driver’s insurance company can try to twist your words in the report to minimize your claim. It is the police officer’s job to get the facts, not to help you later win an injury claim. You will be asked to give facts and sometimes estimations. Be careful. When you don’t know the answer or aren’t sure what to say, don’t try to guess. If the police report contradicts your case in some way, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up on your injury case. Most of the time, an experienced attorney can handle inconsistencies in a police report. Learn what to do if the police report isn’t accurate.
Should I sign a medical release form after my vehicle accident?
Signing a medical release isn’t as simple as you would think. It might seem like a reasonable request to many people, since the insurer needs to know about the injuries you suffered in the accident and how you were treated in order to properly reimburse you. It isn’t that simple. You might be giving the insurance company more information than they need; you could be giving them access to your entire medical history. The answer depends on what kind of medical release form the insurance company is asking for. Do they want a blanket release that allows them access to your entire medical history? Or, is the release very specific and asking for only records relevant to your injury?
To maintain control of your personal records, you could submit copies of the relevant records yourself. But, the best plan is to speak to an experienced car wreck accident attorney who can keep your privacy rights intact.