There's Only One Reason to Deal with the Other Guy's Insurance Company
If you don't have a claim you want the other driver's insurance company to pay, there is absolutely no reason ever for you to speak with that company. If you're not trying to get that insurance company to pay you, you should limit your communications about the accident to only your own company.
Even When You've Got A Reason, I Still Advise Against Dealing With the Other Guy's Insurance Company
If you've got a personal injury claim to present, we want to be sure our message comes through loud and clear. We strongly advise you to get a lawyer before talking to any insurance company. There's an old saying about a lawyer who represents himself having a fool for a client. Well, that applies to non-lawyers who try to represent themselves, too.
The only time it may make sense to deal directly with the other insurance company is when you have a very small claim or your claim is strictly one for property damage.
Tell the Truth
Always, always, always tell the truth. Even when it is embarrassing to you, even when you think it hurts your case, even when you think it hurts someone else, the truth is the best and only thing you should tell an insurance company in connection with a claim.
Know The Score
Remember that this company and its employees are NOT on your side. No matter what they say, they are not trying to help you. They are not going to give you the benefit of the doubt. They aren't supposed to lie to you, but they have no obligation to be fair to you. What are they going to do? They are going to do everything in their power to blame you for the accident and to minimize the value of your claim. That's their job and they are very experienced and skilled at it.
Limit Your Initial Disclosures
Your initial conversations should be polite but controlled. Until you've completed your treatment and accident investigation, you should limit the information you provide to your name, address, phone number and limited accident information (date, time, place). Naturally, the insurance investigator is going to want to know about your injuries and the details of the accident. But, at least in the early going, you can't be sure of the full extent of your injuries and you may not have completed your accident investigation. It's appropriate to say that you don't know exactly how severe your injuries are and that you are following up with your doctors. You will provide more detailed information in your demand.
Don't Agree to a Recorded Statement
Don't agree to give a recorded statement, not in person and not over the phone, and don't sign a document that purports to be a summary of your words.
Has the insurance company offered to let you record a statement from their insured, the other driver? No? Of course not. This is a one-sided process aimed at getting you to make statements that are harmful to your case.
The insurance company isn't going to assign someone trained in getting a detailed and truthful statement to question you. They assign someone whose only interest is in eliciting words from you that can be used to make it seem you bore fault in the accident or that can be used to limit your harm. There's little good that can come from agreeing to a recorded statement.
Be Prepared to Give Authorization(s)
You'll be asked to provide authorizations that allow the insurance company to collect your medical records and that may allow very personal records, including mental health and other intimate records, to be produced to the insurance company. We're not as opposed to this as some lawyers are but it is definitely a good idea to give these authorizations only upon the condition that the insurance company agrees to provide copies to you of all documents that they collect through the use of your authorization (and without cost to you).
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
The law requires that you are to be compensated for your past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering as well as the damage to your property, and the cost of lost opportunities.
If you were partly at fault for the accident, your damages should be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
There may be people who are entitled to be re-paid out of the money you collect. For example, DPW, Medicare and some health plans are entitled to be repaid for medical bills they may have paid on your behalf. It's your responsibility to know whether a payor is entitled to repayment and it's your responsibility to ensure they are paid.
You only have one crack at a settlement. Once you've reached an agreement with the insurance company, you'll have to sign a release that will forever bar you from making any other claims against anyone who caused your injury,
Make a Written Demand
After you're sure you know what your injuries are and what the future is likely to hold for you, be prepared to make a written demand in which you tell the insurance company the details of the accident and your injuries and what you think your case is worth.
Know You Have Options
Remember that while you should get a lawyer before doing any of this, you shouldn't feel obliged to see this through to the end without a lawyer. If at any time you feel that you're in over your head or that you're not getting the response you'd hoped for, you can call a lawyer. An experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to tell you candidly whether he or she can help you to do better than you've already done for yourself.
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