Before you talk to your insurance company you need to know that their sole job is to pay you less money. Many adjusters handle thousands of claims per year and they incentivized by clearing cases (getting rid of them) and paying out as little money as possible to boost the bottom line of the insurance company. My job is the exact opposite. Getting the money that you deserve incentivizes me.
IINSURANCE CLAIM DO’S
Do… Do tell your insurance company that you have been in an auto accident. Your insurance company needs to know about your accident so they are properly put on notice. I would advise talking to an attorney prior to doing this. Read more below to learn what to disclose and not to disclose to an insurance company before you speak with them.
Do… Get information from all the witnesses who are at the scene of the accident. This may be a responding officer, someone that saw the accident, or a passenger. Generally, I advise my clients to get me the name, address, phone number, email address and what they may or may not know about the accident. I will be able to discover most of this information when I am investigating your claim.
Do… Get pictures of the auto accident. If your car has been damaged because of the accident this can indicate that there was high speeds or a violent crash. If your car is being taken to a tow lot lot, ask them to take pictures for you and I will get those when I investigate your claim.
Do… Keep all medical records and an accurate record of who treated you and for what they treated you for. One of the biggest jobs I have is to properly document all of your medical providers that you have seen since the auto accident. I will need the name and the addresses of all your treating physicians.
Do… Call an attorney so they can help you get to the proper doctors. I work with doctors every single day. I know who the best doctors are in town and I can help you get better faster. I can also advise you about doctors who are just looking to make a buck and not looking out for your best interest.
Do…. Get your insurance policy. I will be able to request this but it is nice to have this when we first meet. I can determine quickly how much insurance you have to cover you in the event of an accident. This is a complicated process; I have seen many lawyers even make mistakes when reading car insurance policies. Knowing the intricacies of insurance is important when handling car accident cases.
Do… Get a copy of the police or auto accident report. Again, I can get this but it is nice if a client has this in their possession when we first meet. I can read the accident report and determine if there is video footage of the accident or determine if there was something in the road that may lead to a separate suit against the Missouri Highway Patrol or other responsible parties.
Do… Go to a doctor immediately. Even though you may be hurting from the auto accident it is important that you immediately get to a doctor. It can be difficult to explain to an insurance company why there is a lapse in time from your treatment. Further, your sole focus needs to be on getting better from the injuries you sustained from the accident.
INSURANCE CLAIMS DON’TS
Don’t… Every admit any type of fault. If you weren’t wearing your seatbelt, were speeding, texting and driving or whatever the scenario might be, it may or may not need to be disclosed to the insurance company. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to guide you in making that decision. I have seen many clients admit fault due to the pressure of an insurance company because they were scared or anxious when an adjuster was pressuring them on the phone; even worse, they weren’t at fault!
Don’t… Try and negotiate your own claim. When a non-lawyer tries to negotiate their own claim they are already at a disadvantage. They are sent to special adjusters for non-lawyers. These adjusters are trained to give low-ball offers because they know you are not experienced in this area. I am automatically sent to an adjuster who is going to have to negotiate in good faith. Further, don’t try and negotiate with the person who caused the accident. They are not in a position to negotiate and the information can be used against you when the time comes for the insurance company to take responsibility. If I can give any advice it would be to talk to an experienced car accident attorney to help you through the entire process from the start.
Don’t… Miss doctor appointments. When you miss a doctor appointment the insurance company will presume that your injuries are not very serious. Like I said above, it is important that you listen to what the doctors are telling you and make sure that you are getting better.
Don’t… Accept any type of compensation before talking to an attorney. They are going to try and get you to accept money right away before you can hire an attorney. They know that once an attorney gets involved they are going to have to pay more.
Don’t… Sign any papers that allow them to get medical records before talking to an attorney. I have seen this time and time again. Insurance companies want people to sign broad, burdensome medical records in order to say that the auto accident didn’t cause the injuries. Before signing anything you need to speak with an attorney who can limit and record requests.
DON’T WAIT… Don’t wait, in order to talk to an attorney. Any delay can hurt your claim severely. Call my office and we would be more than happy to help you through the process. It doesn’t cost any money to talk to us. We will happily listen to you and get you the money that you deserve!
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Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.