Do you know the best time to talk to a personal injury lawyer after being involved in a car accident? After being in a car accident, the most likely scenario is that you will begin hearing from a number of insurance companies. It’s much easier to deal with this is just to tell them to talk with your lawyer. With a personal injury lawyer on retainer, you can do that.
After retaining a personal injury lawyer, they will be the ones communicating with the insurance companies, not you. The problem is, immediately following an accident, victims are typically in a state of shock without the ability to focus or understand that retaining a lawyer is important at this time. It may be wise to turn this aspect of your accident over to a trusted friend or family member.
Following an accident, you will probably be contacted by your own insurance company’s bodily injury adjuster. It is well known that the first thing you should do immediately following a car accident is to inform your own insurance company about the incident and to report on damages and bodily injury. The insurance company will then open an accident claim, and a bodily injury adjuster will be assigned to you.
Several accident benefits forms will be sent to you. Forms like these are supplied to the general public to make it easy for them to receive compensation for their loss. You don’t need a lawyer to fill these out; you can do it for yourself. However, it is in your best interest to hire a personal injury lawyer to review them at least. That is because all the information you include on the forms, including a full description of the accident and how it happened, will forever be part of your claim. The care you take today will ensure that nothing will prejudice your claim or threaten your claim.
It is common practice for the other party’s insurance adjuster to contact you quickly after an accident. They do this to protect the interests of the other motorist or drivers, regardless of who they are or how they might be related to you. Injuries and losses that meet specific thresholds allow you to sue third parties for damages. The amounts set aside by insurance companies to pay these damages are called reserves. These are determined by the information you give to the adjusters during your initial communication with them.
If you are too optimistic about your expectations for recovery when speaking with the insurance adjusters at the beginning, the amount set aside in reserve may be less than required in the long run. This is particularly true when things turn out worse than expected. Truthfully, most people tend to paint a rosy picture because they wish that to be the outcome. It is better to let a personal injury lawyer help you with the claim forms right upfront than to lose what you are entitled to.
On the other hand, if you have not retained a lawyer and still speak with an adjuster, make sure that you do not minimize losses such as damage to property or your injuries. You want personal injury law to work in your favor.
Insurance companies continue to check on injured parties throughout the entire process of dealing with claims, but it is the accident benefits insurer that will contact you the most as they adjust ongoing claims. They take every opportunity to learn about your recovery process and the improvements you are making. Be aware; they are looking for any information that can be used to deny your claims later on as well. At some point in the process though, the third party adjuster might stop contacting you as they assume no further claims will be needed, and they might close the file.
If you did not retain a personal injury lawyer, but decide to do so later, that lawyer will be facing an uphill struggle trying to convince the insurance company to reopen a claim they already closed.
Sometimes, insurance companies reach out to claimants to propose a settlement to the claim. This is certainly a good time to hire a lawyer is you have not already done so. All it takes is a phone call to a qualified lawyer to receive either a positive response or a referral to another personal injury law firm. Of course, if you are a personal injury lawyer yourself, then you may be able to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company on your own, but that is not the case with most people.
This is not the time to consider yourself sophisticated enough to negotiate with a large insurance company on an injury claim. You are not likely to convince them to increase their settlement amount two or three times even if the initial settlement offer was negligible. Under no circumstances is an insurance company obligated to negotiate a “fair” deal with anyone. Their job is to save the company money. Even if you do feel that you have won something, it is more likely that the outcome will be less than you deserve.
When a settlement is reached, the insurance company will ask you to sign a release. Again, you should let your lawyer review it first. Never negotiate or sign a settlement without the assistance of a lawyer.
It is not unusual for victims to contact us even after they have reached a settlement with an insurance company. This happens when they realize that it was not such a good deal after all. You should know that it is very difficult to have a settlement set aside once it has been reached.
Although we do recommend that clients consult with us soon after an accident, we understand that it is not always possible. We at Thomson Rogers want you to know that we are here to help prevent you from prejudicing your rights, so call for a consultation as soon as you can.