When the dust settles and the realization sets in that you have just been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may feel overwhelmed with uncertainty and confusion. This is a natural response, especially if the accident resulted in injuries.
Unfortunately, the things you say and do immediately after an accident can affect the outcome of any future insurance claim. Therefore, knowing the best steps to take in those first moments and days is a smart way to improve the chances of a successful outcome of your claim or of any civil action you may decide to take.
Insurance company tactics and tricks
Your first concern must be for your health and safety, so calling police and medical responders should always be your initial action. You may also want to visit the emergency room or your doctor for a full examination, not only for your own well-being but also to have a record of your injuries and medical care.
Gathering information from the other driver at the scene is an important step toward your insurance claim. You will need to know his or her name, license number and details about the driver’s insurance policy. However, when you contact the insurance company, keep these things in mind:
- Report your injuries, but don’t exaggerate or downplay your pain and suffering.
- Do not give in to pressure from the insurance company to submit a written statement or agree to a recorded conversation.
- Be careful to answer an insurance agent’s questions briefly and not to allow the friendliness of the agent relax you into saying too much.
- Stick to the facts of the case and do not let the conversation stray into unrelated matters or past injuries that the insurer may use to minimize your claim.
- As enticing as it may be to accept an early settlement from an insurance company, it is seldom a wise idea.
You may not yet know the full extent of your injuries and the amount of medical bills you could be facing. If you accept a check from an insurance adjuster, you will have no recourse to obtain more money if you need it later. In fact, many find it is a good idea to allow a skilled attorney to handle all communication with insurance companies. An experienced attorney will recognize the tactics of the insurers and work to maximize your claim.