When someone gets injured in an auto accident, one of the first people who normally contacts them is an insurance company representative. They will usually be very friendly and reassuring. They might start by asking how you are doing, and they will insist that everything is going to be just fine and that you will be “taken care of.”
It is important to understand that no matter how courteous and accommodating an insurance adjuster may seem, their interests are not aligned with yours. The goal of the insurance company is to mitigate their losses, which means paying you as little as possible for your injuries.
During your interaction with the insurance company, there are several things that they will not tell you and don’t want you to know:
They are Not on Your Side
The insurance company wants a different outcome than you, and as such, you should view them through an adversarial lens. This is true even if you are dealing with your own insurer; for example, if the driver who caused the accident was uninsured or underinsured. Throughout the process, remember to view everything that the insurance company does with skepticism.
Their First Settlement Offer Will Probably be Too Low
Whenever an insurance company provides an initial settlement offer, it is usually for a significantly lower amount than your case is worth. Insurers know that accident injury victims are often in a bind financially from being out of work and incurring large medical bills, and they will try to take advantage of this situation by giving claimants a lowball offer.
Giving a Recorded Statement Could Hurt your Claim
When an insurance company representative calls you on the phone, they will usually want you to provide a recorded statement giving your version of events. They might imply that this is just a formality and part of their investigation, and that the statement is needed in order to process the claim.
If you are asked for a formal statement, you should not provide one with without first speaking with an attorney. These “investigations” are conducted primarily for the purpose of finding some reason to diminish or deny your claim, and your statement is likely to be used against you later on.
You Can Sue them if They Act in Bad Faith
Insurance companies are required to act in good faith when dealing with claimants, and they are not free from regulatory oversight and accountability. Many insurers push the boundaries of what they are legally allowed to do, and this is far more likely to happen if a claimant does not have legal representation. If you believe you are being treated unfairly by the insurance company, speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Hiring an Attorney Will Often Result in a Better Settlement
If you suffered moderate to severe injuries from your accident, then you might be entitled to a significant amount of compensation. An insurance adjuster might tell you that your settlement will be the same whether you hire a lawyer or not, implying that doing so would be a waste of your money. But this is simply not the case.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “of course you’re going to say that, you’re a lawyer.” But don’t take our word for it, consider the results of a survey done by Nolo, the highly respected online legal encyclopedia. The survey found that three factors affect the outcome of a personal injury claim more than any other; hiring an attorney, negotiating a settlement rather than taking the initial offer, and taking steps toward involving the court. Furthermore, the survey showed that obtaining legal representation was the most important step.
91% of claimants who had a lawyer received a payout for their claim, while just 51% of those without a lawyer received a settlement. In addition, claimants who hired a lawyer received an average of $77,600 in compensation, while those who handled their own claims received an average of $17,600. Even after accounting for the lawyer’s contingency fee, those with legal representation ended up with net compensation amounts that were nearly three times higher than those who were unrepresented.
Injured in an Auto Accident in Alabama? Contact M. Adam Jones and Associates for Assistance
If you or someone close to you got hurt in a car accident in Alabama, M. Adam Jones and Associates is ready to go to work for you! Call our office today or message us online to get started.
M. Adam Jones,
M. Adam Jones & Associates, LLC
206 N. Lena St.
Dothan, AL 36303