When you are involved in an accident, there will be a whirlwind of activity which can be overwhelming. You may be asked to make statements to the police, submit photos of the accident and start filing insurance claims—all while recovering from your injuries. Understanding how to handle your affairs after an accident will help you to navigate this often scary and confusing process.
Never Talk to the Insurance Company Without Your Attorney
You may have to go to trial to prove that you deserve compensation for your injuries. Insurance companies don’t make profits by paying out claims, so they will employ a number of tactics to avoid paying—even if the accident was their client’s fault. They will often call to have a “friendly talk” with you, telling you how they sympathize with your pain and suffering. They will then get you to open up and “tell your side of the story,” about the accident. They may even tell you that you don’t need a lawyer—that you are just having a conversation.
Never talk to the insurance company representatives without your lawyer present.
They will use anything you say against you to win their case. If the other driver hit you while running a red light, the insurance company will try to get you to admit that you were distracted or texting. They will use this against you in court.
Don’t talk to the other party after the accident. They will also try to get you to admit fault so that they can win the case. They may offer to come over and bring you some food to “cheer you up.” Insurance companies have been known to send their clients over to gather information about you that they can later use in court.
At the Scene of the Accident
Never apologize at the scene of the accident. Apologizing is the same as admitting fault. If the police are present, give a brief statement that states only the facts of the case. It is often best to call your attorney first so that he can give you an idea of what to report to the police. If this is not possible, stick to the facts and don’t speculate about who was at fault. Take photos and get the names and contact information of any witnesses who can bolster your case.
The best thing you can do at the scene of the accident is stay calm, get the medical treatment you need and document everything. Remember that the accident scene will be cleaned up fairly quickly, so take photos immediately and talk to witnesses while the incident is still fresh in your mind.
The Insurance Companies are Not On Your Side
If you go to trial and the court finds that the other party was at fault, the insurance company will have to pay out a claim and reimburse you for medical expenses, car repair and possibly lost wages. This is the last thing that the insurance company wants to do. They want to talk it over with you, make you feel that you were at fault and get away with paying for little to none of the damage that their client caused. Don’t fall for this. Many injury attorneys don’t charge a fee unless you win your case, so there is no risk in hiring an attorney who can fight to get you the money you deserve.
Don’t Accept Any Money
The other driver’s insurance company may send you a check in the mail to compensate you for your injuries. This is considered a settlement, and it may prevent you from filing a lawsuit later. If you receive any payment from an insurance company, do not cash it. Give it to your lawyer to review. In most cases, the money the insurance company sends will barely be enough to cover your losses.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you need a lawyer who is firm, aggressive and knowledgeable. We have been helping people win their personal injury cases for years, and we can assist you with getting paid for your injuries. Don’t speak to anyone without speaking to your Los Angeles car accident attorney first. Call us and let us tell you how we can help with a free consultation today.