Accident Settlement Mistakes –Top 8 Lessons to Learn
Insurance companies are not your friends, they are in the business to make money. In fact, they are actually hoping you make accident settlement mistakes after a car accident that could be detrimental to your insurance claim. Ever wonder what those top accident settlement mistakes are? Here are the top eight accident settlement mistakes insurance companies are hoping you make:
Mistake #1: Settling To Quickly. Insurance companies may offer to pay all your medical bills and property damage. Many people think this sounds fair and agree to a settlement offer prematurely. But what about compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, future medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, and lifestyle changes? These are the legal damages that insurance companies typically try to limit paying or avoid altogether.
Mistake #2: Not Reporting All Injuries. Insurance companies hope you do not report all of your injuries related to the accident – even if they seem insignificant at the time. Report everything and go to the hospital or doctor right away. If you don’t they will use this against you in court. If an ambulance arrives at the scene and you are injured, go in the ambulance. Do not reject medical care.
Mistake #3: Gaps in Treatment. Insurance companies are hoping you delay or avoid going to the doctor/ hospital and have gaps in your treatment. Gaps in treatment will kill your personal injury case. Moreover, not seeing medical providers or having big gaps in your medical care will not help you get better and recover. Do not tough it out and hope that you will feel better. Get immediate medical care, do not skip appointments, follow up on every referral and follow your doctor’s advice.
Mistake #4: Neglecting To Document Everything. Insurance companies are hoping you don’t take photos of the accident and all of the vehicles involved in the accident. They also do not want you to keep a record of your expenses. – car rental, home services, mileage, and gas spent going to and from medical providers, prescription drugs, etc… Keep a journal and document EVERYTHING. Also, keep a journal of how you feel and how your injuries are impacting your day-to-day life. These documented details will be important months down the road when you do not remember them.
Mistake #5: Giving A Recorded Statement. Insurance companies want you to give a recorded statement about the accident. Here is where a lot of people get confused and think they have to provide a recorded statement. You should never give a statement, recorded or not, to the insurance company for the at-fault person or driver. Recorded statements can hurt your claim. Insurance companies will try to trap you, trick you and get you to make admissions against your own interest. While you have a contractual obligation to give a statement to your insurance company, you have no such contractual or legal obligation to talk to the other insurance company. Instead, get the help of a lawyer to understand what questions you do/don’t have to answer and how to proceed after an injury.
Mistake #6: Admitting Fault. Insurance companies hope that you admit fault at the accident scene. After an injury causing an accident, you may not be thinking clearly or recalling facts accurately. If you are able, make sure everyone is o.k. and safe, but do not discuss who is at fault.
Mistake #7: Signing A Medical Authorization. Insurance companies want you to sign a medical authorization so they can obtain all of your medical records. They will even try to obtain records that pre-existed the accident and are unrelated. Insurance companies are looking for any preexisting condition, prior injuries or prior accidents to blame for your current injuries and symptoms. Do not do it. You should never sign a medical authorization for the other insurance company. You may be required to sign one for your own insurance company so it can pay your medical bills under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, but you are never required to give the other person’s insurance company a signed medical authorization.
Mistake #8: Not Hiring A Lawyer. This is my personal favorite: Insurance companies are crossing their fingers you will not hire a lawyer! It is o.k. for insurance companies to have teams of lawyers on their side, but they are sure hoping you don’t have someone on your side analyzing the accident, determining fault, developing the full extent of your physical and legal damages, and trying to maximize and collect compensation for your injuries. They will paint lawyers as greedy or unnecessary and try to convince you your better off without.
While some of these accident settlement mistakes may seem like common sense, quite a few clients will look back on their discussions with insurance companies and now realize how easy it was for professionally trained insurance adjusters to lead the discussion down the wrong path and twist a client’s words. Don’t be pressured into making a mistake — seek professional legal help.
If you have been in an auto accident of any kind, I highly recommend you read my Guide to Protecting Yourself and Maximizing Your Financial Recovery. I outline the proper steps to take after an accident, from your responsibilities to notifying insurance companies and obtaining medical attention. Our Portland car accident lawyer can assist you.
Travis Mayor, Oregon Personal Injury Attorney
I represent personal injury and accident victims in the Portland Metropolitan Area, Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties, and throughout the state of Oregon. I provide this Blog as an educational and informational service for Oregon residents. It is not intended to be legal advice, as every case is unique and should be accurately evaluated.
If you or a family member have been in an accident and would like a FREE professional consultation with an attorney, call me at (503) 444-2825, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about your legal rights.