Insurance companies do not have your best interest in mind; a car accident attorney can help you level the playing field.
Car accident cases where people have suffered significant injuries, require everything from start to finish to be considered in the context of how they will be proven in front of a jury. If you have been injured in a car accident, you should not be handling such a case on your own. Don’t even consider that. You will not get fairly compensated from the defendant’s insurer. You are not really equipped to prepare the case or argue it to an insurer the same way an attorney is.
Insurance companies have gotten stingy in the last couple of years and they are not dealing with cases fairly before a lawsuit is filed. Cases seem to be settling less and less pre-litigation. A fair number of cases used to be resolved prior to handling lawsuits. Unfortunately now, maybe due to the economy or maybe it’s just the way the pendulum is swinging, insurance companies seem to force almost all car accident cases into litigation.
The insurance company wants you to sign a medical authorization form
If the insurance company wants you to sign a medical authorization form so it can see what your injuries are and it can adjudicate the claim, you need to consider if you will hire an attorney or not. If you have any kind of significant injury, something more than aches and pains and a few visits to a doctor or a week or two with a chiropractor, you should think strongly about hiring an attorney.
If you will hire an attorney, don’t sign anything with the insurance company, don’t give it any authority to do anything, to look at your case or inspect your records. You shouldn’t waive your right to privacy and give private information to insurance agencies because you don’t know what they’ll do with them.
If you sign a general authorization to the insurance company, that company can get any records it chooses. You will be completely at the company’s mercy as to what it can look at and what it can use as relevant in the case. The insurance company should only get the records relevant to the case.
The opposing insurance company wants you to give a recorded statement
A common scenario in the litigation world is the insurance company contacting people that have been injured in an accident within hours of the injury and asking for a statement. Do not give a statement. You are not required to do so and you should not give any statements to the defendant’s insurance representatives.
The problem is that the insurance company likes multiple statements existing out there. This way, it can exploit any change you might make. Anything having to do even with minor facts or details. You will make statements at different moments in the course of action:
- You give a statement to the recording officer when the accident happens
- A statement might be recorded early on by the insurance company
- Later, if the case doesn’t resolve pre-litigation, you will give a deposition again and a sworn testimony about the facts of the accident
When you give a deposition a year and a half later, you may remember something slightly differently without being dishonest. But the insurance company gets to exploit those differences and to argue that you weren’t being candid. The more times that you give a statement and there are subtle differences in details, the more the insurance company gets to argue that you are not a credible witness.
If there is a reason to give the opposing insurance company a statement pre-litigation, insist that it is not recorded, so the insurance company doesn’t get that advantage. For example, when something needs to be cleared up so that it’ll pay property damage or when it doesn’t understand how you could have suffered a whiplash or whatever the issue is.
When people injured in a car accident first come to the O’Brien & Zehnder law firm, they make sure to inform them: “Insurance companies are not doing anything wrong but they’re acting in their best interest, not yours. All opposing insurance companies want to do is minimize the check they have to write at the end of the day. They’ll do anything within the bounds of reason and the law to minimize that.”