When you’ve been in a car accident, insurance claims are typically your best option for getting compensated. But that doesn’t mean the process will be easy, or that the insurance company is on your side.
Insurance companies make a profit by avoiding paying out claims, or paying the smallest possible amount. And they deal with cases like yours every day, while the average person will only be in a few accidents throughout their lifetime.
So how can you strengthen your chances of getting the compensation you deserve when the odds are stacked against you? There are certain things you can do to level the playing field — like hiring an experienced Dunwoody car accident attorney.
There are also certain mistakes that will significantly decrease your chances of getting compensated. In this article, we’ll break down nine of the most important things to avoid when filing your car accident claim and talking to insurance companies.
9 Things You Shouldn’t Do When Filing An Automobile Insurance Claim (and a Few Things You Should)
1. Not Obtaining a Police Report After Your Accident
It’s difficult to remember what you should do in the aftermath of a car accident, especially if you’ve been injured. But Georgia law requires drivers to report any accident to the police if it involves an injury or $500 or more of damage.
You should also make sure to request a copy of the police report, because it may include important evidence that supports your insurance claim. You can make this request after the accident — or your Dunwoody automobile accident attorney can do it for you.
2. Waiting too Long to File Your Insurance Claim
For most Georgia car accident cases — with just a few exceptions — you have two years from the date of the accident to start pursuing legal action.
However, insurance companies often operate on a different timeline. If you wait too long to file your insurance claim, they can sometimes use that as a reason to deny your claim completely. If you’re physically able to, you should try to file your claim within a few days of the accident.
And if you’re injured or otherwise unable to take action yourself, a personal injury lawyer can file the claim for you.
3. Waiting to Visit the Doctor After an Accident
Many car accident victims will put off visiting the doctor, either because they think they aren’t injured, or they expect their injuries to heal with time. But even if you don’t think you’ve been seriously hurt, you should always make a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible after an accident.
Insurance companies call this a “gap in treatment” and typically argue that people who are in pain go to get treatment. If you wait too long or go too long between treatment, it can really affect your case and the option to get the treatment you need. If you go to the hospital the day of the accident, do not wait to follow up with a specialist to treat your injuries.
Some serious car accident injuries start with symptoms that might seem minor to you — like sore muscles or persistent headaches.
And other times, injuries won’t display symptoms for weeks or even months. In these situations, it can be difficult to link your symptoms back to the accident, giving insurance companies wiggle room to deny your claim.
By visiting a doctor right away, you can start your healing journey as soon as possible and have recorded proof of your injuries and their cause.
4. Sharing More Information than Necessary When Talking to the Insurance Adjuster
The single most important thing to remember is that insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. Even information that seems harmless to you — like observations from the scene of the accident or speculation about how the incident occurred — can ultimately be used against you, so be extremely cautious about what you share and when.
Once you’ve filed your claim, an insurance company will usually bring in an adjuster to assess your reports and determine how much the company owes you.
During this stage of the process, it’s extremely helpful to have a lawyer on your side who can help you prepare for interviews with the adjusters, know what questions to answer, and even negotiate with the company on your behalf.
When talking to the adjuster, make sure to stick only to the verifiable facts, answer only the questions they ask, and don’t be afraid to say, “I need to talk to my lawyer before answering.”
5. Giving the Insurance Company a Recorded Statement
The other driver’s insurance company may also ask you to provide a “recorded statement” at some point in the filing process.
Keep in mind that there is no law in Georgia requiring you to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company (in some cases, you may need to give the statement to your own insurance company, but a lawyer can help you determine if this is necessary).
A recorded statement may seem like it could help your claim, but really, it’s an opportunity for insurance to use your words against you. Don’t be afraid to push back, and if you’re feeling pressured, tell them you don’t want to give any statement without your lawyer present.
6. Representing Yourself in Your Car Accident Insurance Claim
Insurance companies are experts at dealing with cases like yours, so how can you be expected to go toe-to-toe with them on your own? It’s important to have someone on your side who is just as experienced and ready to fight on your behalf.
When you hire a Dunwoody personal injury lawyer like Nick Martin, you improve your chances of successfully navigating the claims process to get the highest possible amount of compensation.
Some people think they don’t need to hire a lawyer unless they want to pursue legal action. Or they’ll wait to consult a legal expert until they see their offer from the insurance company and realize it’s far too low. While it can still be valuable to bring on an attorney at that point in the process, you’ll have far better chances of success if you work with someone from the outset.
A great Dunwoody accident attorney like Nick Martin can help you throughout the entire process, including:
- Acquiring the police report
- Filing your insurance claim
- Keeping all your records and documents organized
- Talking to insurance adjusters
- Determining if the insurance offer is fair
- Negotiating your settlement amount
- Navigating complex situations like rideshare accidents, tractor trailer accidents, or motorcycle accidents
- Deciding if litigation is necessary
Having a Dunwoody personal injury lawyer on your side who knows the ins and outs of the law can make all the difference for your case, so don’t wait to schedule a consultation!
7. Accepting the First Insurance Offer
Because the claims process can be so laborious, you may feel tempted to accept the first offer the insurance company sends your way. But this is a mistake!
Several things can happen when you accept an offer too quickly. Maybe you don’t yet know the extent of your injuries and need more money to pay your medical bills. Or maybe insurance is lowballing you, and you could get a higher payout with some negotiation.
Or maybe you didn’t know all the types of compensation you could ask for in the state of Georgia:
- All past and future medical bills relating to the accident
- Lost wages due to injury or lack of transportation
- Pain and suffering
- Vehicle rental while your car is damaged
Once you accept an offer, your options for getting more money are limited, so make sure to take your time and evaluate all your options.
After all, it’s hard to calculate how much your injuries and trauma are worth, especially when you’re still emotional or in pain. Insurance companies will take advantage of that weakness if you give them the chance, so having a great automobile accident attorney on your side can make all the difference.
A Dunwoody accident attorney like Nick Martin can examine your claim and let you know if the amount they’re offering you is fair, or if you deserve to ask for more. He can even negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company.
8. Not Asking for Documentation of the Insurance Company’s Statements
If an insurance adjuster tries to tell you a reason why they can’t accept your claim, make sure to ask for documentation. Insurance companies are required by law to provide you with disclosures, but only if you know to ask for them.
These documents may be too complex for you to understand on your own, but an attorney might be able to find information in them that actually supports your case. Even if you haven’t yet hired a Dunwoody vehicle accident attorney, collect the documentation now in case you decide to work with one later.
9. Allowing Insurance to Claim a Pre-Existing Condition
Be wary of an insurance company that tries to deny your claim based on a “pre-existing condition.” This is especially common for older drivers. Maybe your back was injured in an accident, but they try to tell you it’s actually degenerative disk disease or arthritis.
If you weren’t diagnosed with a condition or experiencing pain before the accident, then an insurance company shouldn’t be able to claim that your pain now is not eligible for compensation.
And if you do have any pre-existing conditions, don’t disclose them without talking to a lawyer first. Even if they’re not at all relevant to the injuries you’re currently experiencing, the insurer may try to use them as an excuse to reduce or deny your compensation.
Get Help from a Dunwoody Personal Injury Lawyer
You shouldn’t have to have a special degree or a legal background in order to get the compensation you deserve after a car accident. But unfortunately, insurance companies intentionally make things complicated and set up barriers that keep you from receiving your damages.
Your best defense is to have a true expert on your side, a Dunwoody automobile accident lawyer who has the time and dedication to fight for you.
At The Law Office of Nicholas P. Martin, we pride ourselves on being just that. We’re not a big box law firm that takes on thousands of cases and doesn’t have the time to provide the full support each client needs. We’re a small team of real people who are committed to helping our Dunwoody neighbors.
It can be challenging to find the right lawyer, but Nick Martin’s track record of successful cases speaks for itself. He has experience working as a Dunwoody truck accident attorney, a motorcycle accident lawyer, and with unique situations including:
- Careless drivers
- Catastrophic injuries
- Driver fatigue
- Pedestrian accidents
- Rideshare vehicles
- Uninsured motorists
- Wrongful death claims
And much more.
It’s also OK to shop around until you find a lawyer you feel comfortable with. It’s why we offer a free consultation to anyone who wants to learn more about our services and the support we can provide for your unique case.
The sooner you bring an attorney onto your case, the more they’ll understand all the facets of it, and the better advice they’ll be able to provide. So don’t wait to make the call! Give Nick’s office a call today at 770-450-6155, or use this form to book a free legal consultation. We are ready to help!
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