Should I Talk to the Insurance Company After a Car Accident?
Getting into an accident is hectic enough as it is—filing police reports, exchanging information and getting the damage repaired all while trying to recover from your injuries is not easy. Dealing with insurance companies on top of that can make things even more chaotic. It is important for both parties to report the accident to each of their insurance companies, especially if they are going to use their coverage to help pay for repairs. However, talking to insurance companies can make things a little more complicated if you are not careful. And yes, that includes even your insurance company.
Without even realizing it, you could be putting your case at risk. Your best bet is to not answer calls from any insurance company until you have talked to and hired an experienced Phoenix car accident attorney to help you through the process.
The risks of answering insurance company calls
Remember, you are not legally obligated to answer calls from the other party’s insurer. You will need to answer some basic questions for your own company after filing a claim, but it can always wait until you have an attorney representing you. If you do answer a call from either insurance company, you are essentially opening up a can of worms.
They will try to use your words against you
Even if the accident was not your fault, the other party’s insurance company will still likely call you to get your side of how the accident happened. The problem with this is that you may misspeak, be unclear, or they may twist your words into meaning something that you did not intend. For example, let’s say your Phoenix car accident happened at a four-way stop.
You obeyed your stop sign and were crossing the intersection as the other car blew right through their stop sign and t-boned you. If you tell their insurance company as you are explaining the events that “it happened so fast that I didn’t even see them coming,” they may take that as you did not look both ways before crossing the intersection. Now this puts some of the blame on you.
Having even partial fault for an accident can severely affect the outcome of your case. Their insurance will not be willing to pay as much as they were before since the accident is now considered to be your fault to some degree.
They will try to lowball you
If you were hurt in the car accident, then the other party’s insurance company will more than likely offer you a settlement. It may sound appealing at first because that means the case is over quickly, you get paid fast, and it is usually a nice chunk of change. However, accepting the first settlement offer is not always the best idea. You are not always aware of just how injured you are, how long you will be out of work for, or how much your total medical costs will be so soon after the accident. If you accept a quick settlement, you may not be getting as much money as you need to cover all these costs. To make matters worse, once you accept settlement, you are releasing the other party and their insurance company from any further responsibility. That means even if you realized later on just how bad your injuries are, you cannot go back and ask for more money.
That goes for all insurance companies—even yours
Many people think that they can talk to their own insurance company about the accident in confidence, right? Well, not exactly. Your own insurance company may still take your words out of context. If it turns out the other driver’s insurance policy isn’t big enough to cover all your damages, your insurance company will be responsible for paying the extra if you have underinsured motorist coverage. So, your own company can become your adversary down the road when they try to reduce what they have to pay.
What do I do if I answer an insurance company’s call?
Refer them to your lawyer, give them our name and phone number, and politely say goodbye and hang up.
How will a Phoenix car accident attorney help?
An experienced Phoenix car accident attorney will act as the middleman between you and both car insurance companies. With their expertise and guidance, they can help secure the biggest settlement offer possible. Attorneys know all the ins and outs of complex car accident claims, and they know exactly how insurance companies will try to trick you into saying something that could potentially affect your claim.
After hiring an attorney, they will effectively communicate your side of the story to the insurance companies in a clear and comprehensible way. Depending on the circumstances, an attorney will typically advise you to not accept the first settlement offer, either. Our job is to get the best possible outcome for you, so we’ll do our best to negotiate – but have a plan ready to take your case to trial if that’s what you need.
If you have been seriously injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, then you should speak to a car accident attorney as soon as you can. At Plattner Verderame, P.C., we fight for the good people of Phoenix and Tempe. We know how much a bad car accident can affect your life, and we want to help as much as we can. Call our office in Phoenix or Tempe or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
I have been active in leadership in the Arizona Association for Justice (lawyers who represent injured folks, and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) since 1985. I served as President in 1991. I was an active participant in battles to protect the Arizona Constitution from the insurance industry and big business interests in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
Read more about Richard Plattner