One of the things everyone is advised to do after a car accident is exchange insurance info with the other driver. What many people don’t realize is the importance of speaking to an attorney before ever calling the insurance company. Insurance companies make a profit by trying to offer you as little as possible in a claim. You should never speak directly to the other driver’s insurer, but even your own insurance company will be looking for the lowest possible offer they can give you.
Here are the biggest reasons you should always consult an attorney first.
We would like to believe insurance companies have our back. We pay for coverage because we want peace of mind that we are protected after accidents or other catastrophes. Insurance companies are a business, though, and they don’t want to give away money if they don’t have to.
1. Your words can be used against you.
After an accident, you should tell your own insurance company that an accident happened and you should provide the date and time it occurred. However, do not give any other details. Your insurer may ask for info about who was at fault or if there were any injuries. Never provide this until you have spoken to an attorney about your situation. It is not up to you to decide who was at fault and your input could be held against you. It is also very common for injuries to take weeks or months to fully surface, so you shouldn’t try to assess your own condition. An attorney can speak to your insurer about these details after they’ve looked into your circumstances.
2. If you accept an offer, it’s final.
Another reason to speak to an attorney first is that you cannot seek more compensation after you’ve accepted an insurer’s offer. If you accept an offer that ends up being far lower than the costs after an accident, there is no way to cover the rest of the expenses with insurance money. A skilled lawyer can assess your situation and guide you in what a fair amount would be under your coverage policy before you look into offers or accept anything.
3. Bad faith practices by insurers are illegal.
Finally, an attorney may be able to win an even larger claim for you if the insurance company was acting in “bad faith.” If your insurer makes an unreasonable offer or goes against policies of how an insurance company must proceed in these cases, you could have a bad faith claim against the company itself. If this happens, you may receive additional payment as compensation for the insurer’s bad faith, on top of the coverage for accident expenses.
Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation, so you should always seek legal help and advice about your situation before taking any action with your insurance company. This way, you can ensure that you protect your rights and are not financially burdened for years because of one accident and one unfair offer.