If you’ve dealt with a car insurance company on a claim before, then it’s no surprise they are full of this trick, that trick, or other tricks at every turn. Each of these have one goal in mind: keep more money in their pocket and out of yours.
Insurance companies have years and probably billions of claims as an advantage of you. They know that most people don’t like to deal with these types of things and don’t want to hire a car accident lawyer. This will lead to low settlement offers and defending or denying claims. Insurance companies train their adjusters to grind car accident victims down in the process to accept less.
Whether you ultimately decide to hire a San Diego car accident lawyer or not, these tips will help you maximize your accident injury settlement.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Insurance companies have conditioned people to think that an accident claim is about money—it’s not! It’s about your health and being compensated for their driver’s reckless actions. The way you’re compensated (or in legal terms, the remedy) for those injuries is financially. There is nothing in this world that requires you to shoulder the burden of your injuries without help.
The first thing you should do is seek immediate medical attention. If you didn’t go to the ER right after the accident, try to get to a doctor as soon as you can. After you’ve seen the doctor, we can’t stress enough that you need to follow what they say to do!
Following doctors’ orders is critical to your care and your claim. If you don’t see a doctor, but claim you’re injured, the insurance company won’t believe you because there’s no proof. Likewise, if you go to a doctor once but claim your injuries are much worse, the same thing will happen. The insurance company wants to see well documented injuries, symptoms of those injuries, and how they affected your life. They’ll also want to see that you followed through on your recovery plan. For example, attending chiropractic treatments regularly, physical therapy, not missing appointments and failing to reschedule.
If there is a gap in your treatment, i.e., long periods of time between seeking medical treatment, then the insurance company may argue that you’re not as injured as you claim. So the moral here is to see a doctor and follow their orders. We understand it’s difficult with schedules, work, and life in general, but the long term effects on your health are worth following through.
Keep Organized and Accurate Records
This process can be a bit long and tough. But the more organized you stay from the beginning, the easier it will be for your car accident lawyer to move your claim along. You’ll be gathering some sort of combination of a police report, medical bills/records, witness statements, pictures, and documentation about work (along with possibly others).
Know that the insurance company is already ahead of you at every step. As soon as they’re notified, they begin their process. The adjuster has hundreds of claims at any given time. This may be your first accident claim. If you don’t stay organized, it could hurt your claim.
These are very important when proving your claim. With smartphones, just about everyone has a camera in their pocket now. If you’re able to, take pictures of where the cars ended up, the damage to them, the scene, the other driver’s information (driver’s license and insurance), witness ID’s or contact information, and the scene of the accident (location, weather, road conditions, etc.). If they’re right in your phone, you can easily transfer them.
Don’t Accept the First Offer from the Insurance Company
Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators that know exactly what they’re doing. They know how to devalue, defend, and deny claims. In fact, they’re paid a bonus for claims that are denied or pay out below policy limits.
Everyone has bills to pay. Insurance companies know this. They will use this fact to their advantage to make people believe they’re just trying to help them out. A quick settlement doesn’t mean a good one. Don’t let them get away with paying well below what your claim is worth. The first offer (unless it’s the policy limits ), usually isn’t a good one.
Keep an Injury Journal
How the accident affects your daily life is important for your claim. This includes normal everyday things like driving, shopping, spending time with your kids, sleeping, etc.
But if you don’t document instances of the injury affecting your life, it’s likely you won’t remember down the road. All of the memories will start to blend together. When asking for pain and suffering damages, the details will help strengthen your claim.
If the case ends up going to trial, it can be hard to recollect a specific day and how recovery was progressing. With a journal, you’ll have a detailed book of just how much the injury changed your daily life and help clarify for the judge and jury.
My name is Daniel Hanecak and I am a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer. I know from personal experience how stressful and time consuming a car accident can be. When you call Hanecak Law Inc., you will speak with me directly. It is my aim to provide you with free and friendly advice. Call me today at (858) 206-4326 for a free case evaluation.