1) Giving a Recorded Statement
After your car accident the insurance company will do a thorough investigation into your accident and your injuries. They will contact any potential witnesses and attempt to speak with you to find out the specific details about the accident. The insurance adjuster will tell you in advance that your conversation with them is being recorded. These recorded statements can often times come back to hurt injured victims when their case later leads to litigation. Many people voluntarily provide recorded statements because they believe the insurance company is simply going to accept liability and pay a reasonable value for their claim. However, often times these statements will give the insurance company a reason to deny a claim or to minimize their offer for settlement they previously might not have had.
2) Signing a Medical Release Authorization
Insurance companies will not settle your car accident claim without reviewing your medical records and bills. In order for the insurance company to obtain your records, they will ask that you sign a blank medical release authorizing any healthcare providers to release your records to them. This means that the insurance company will now have access to your entire medical history, even records prior to and unrelated to your automobile accident. This often allows the insurance company to find a way to deny your claim, or at least minimize their offer, based on some pre-existing condition or diagnosis.
3) Not Using Your Own Health Insurance
One big mistake that could have a substantial impact on your final settlement amount is not using your health insurance for your medical treatment. Most injured victims are under the impression that the at-fault driver’s liability insurance will cover your medical treatment as you treat. This is not the case. Unfortunately, you will have to seek medical treatment on your own, paying out of pocket, then seek reimbursement for your medical expenses through your claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance. Once you reach a settlement for your claim you will be responsible for paying off any liens from your medical providers or, possibly, to your health insurance provider if you used your insurance. Using your health insurance for your medical treatment will usually make the amount that must be paid back, if any, much smaller and allow you to keep a larger amount of your overall settlement.
4) Skipping Out on Medical Treatment
Another mistake that could have a substantial impact on your car accident claim is not completing medical treatment that has been ordered by your doctor. For example, if your doctor orders you to complete six months of physical therapy and you decide to quit half way through simply because you feel you no longer need the treatment, that decision could have a significant impact on your accident claim. The failure to follow your doctor’s orders opens up the door for the insurance company to make numerous arguments in limiting the amount of compensation you otherwise might be entitled to. If you feel like you have reached a point in your treatment where you no longer need to continue going, simply schedule a follow up appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns. In any event, you should always continue treating until your doctor fully releases you.
5) Inappropriate Conversations, Activities and Social Media Posts
Insurance companies will speak with any potential witnesses who might have knowledge about your accident and injuries and will constantly monitor your social media accounts in hopes of finding any information they can use to contradict your allegations of being injured. The best practice is not to speak with anyone about your accident or injuries and stay away from inappropriate posts on social media accounts. Setting your social media accounts to private can also help add an additional layer of protect but still may not prevent them from obtaining your information.
Likewise, insurance companies will often times hire private investigators to perform routine surveillance on injury victims to determine if their level of activity coincides with their alleged injuries. These investigators will monitor claimants when they are out in public and even at their home in their own yard. I always let clients know about this possibility but simply tell them that if they are telling the truth and doing everything right, they have nothing to worry about.
6) Not Speaking With an Attorney
It is always in your best interest to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney before you sign any documents from the insurance company. Even if you have handled your claim on your own and have reached a settlement with the insurance company, you should be sure you know your rights before signing any documents. Likewise, you need to make sure you know what the documents you are signing say about releasing any future rights you might have. You may be releasing your right to pursue additional insurance or may be accepting responsibility for certain liens that you are unaware of.
If you need any help with you automobile accident claim, contact the Law Office of Jared C. Williams, LLC to discuss your rights and options. Our Charleston auto accident attorneys know how to deal with insurance adjusters and can help guide you through the process. Feel free to give us a call at 843-991-6528 or simply shoot us an e-mail through our website contact form. We are always happy to help.