How to Deal With Insurance Companies after an Accident
The following is an excerpt from an interview with a Virginia injury lawyer at Price Benowitz, LLP.
How Should I Handle Insurance Companies after an Auto Accident?
There is the potential for multiple insurance companies to be involved, either the driver’s insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance. They are both going to have questions about what happened, how it happened, when it happened, and also about how the person is feeling. If they pursued medical treatment, they insurance companies will have subjective as well as objective questions about the person’s condition.
That is where it becomes important for an injured person to talk to an attorney and find out what their options are. They should assist the insurance company with the name, the date of the accident, and the contact information so that they can do their job and begin the process of helping you.
When the insurance companies start trying to dig with questions about how the person is feeling or how this happened should be answered by an attorney acting on their behalf. The insurance company adjusters and investigators are very skilled at getting questions answered the way they want them answered, but those answers aren’t always in your best interest.
Having someone to advocate on your behalf who knows the process, the appropriate timelines for things, and the appropriate responses can be invaluable. No one in that situation wants to receive unwanted calls. They want to be able to recuperate, relax, and receive treatment. Having an auto accident attorney available to take that burden off of them is a great thing and they should take advantage of that.
Should victims accept settlement offers from insurance companies?
Victims should definitely be wary of settlements, especially if the person does not have an attorney. Insurance companies will often make an extremely low offer right away and settle the case before the injured party knows the full extent of their injuries. Unfortunately, with the increased communications and social media that we have now, people’s personal information is out there for everyone else to see, including insurance companies. They have ways of finding out if someone might be in a difficult financial position, and they might try to exploit this. Unrepresented victims can find themselves in sticky situations when they have medical bills adding up and, sometimes, no health insurance or no money with which to pay them. Insurance companies might prey on that weakness and offer what seems like a large sum of money up front, but which could end up not being enough to cover their medical expenses. That is another reason to get an attorney involved at an early point in the case.
How do uninsured or underinsured policies protect motorists?
In most cases, driving a vehicle without insurance is illegal. If someone is in an auto accident and the other party doesn’t have insurance, the injured person might have to rely on their own insurance policy to provide the coverage for medical bills. There are different types of coverage available, which could include a no-fault insurance policy, which could provide coverage for their injuries and, potentially, loss of wages. No-fault insurance is an elective insurance in most states, but it’s another layer of protection. Most jurisdictions have a minimum level of insurance that drivers must have by law. In many cases this will be $25,000 or $30,000. If the at-fault party has a $30,000 minimum policy and the injured party has $100,000 in medical bills, an uninsured or underinsured insurance provision can make up the difference.