The Top Things an insurance company does not want you to know (and a few other things you should do).
The investigation – Insurance companies hire lawyers for their at-fault drivers. Why are you waiting to hire one yourself? Insurance adjusters, immediately upon hearing of your accident and claim, begin their investigation of you, your accident, and your alleged injuries. We start investigating accidents immediately, too, once hired by our clients.
The Reserve – The insurance company opens a “reserve” (think of it as an imaginary savings account) for your bodily injury claim where it sets aside money (really, a bookkeeping entry) which represents what they think the claim is “worth.” These “reserves” may be increased or decreased as the claim develops and more information is gathered. Years of experience teach us to calculate these reserves and maximize your recovery.
Their “limits” of coverage – The limits of coverage the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier provides to their insured (usually the at-fault party) is available to you in most instances. Georgia law specifically provides the mechanism whereby you can learn exactly how much insurance coverage your “at-fault driver” was carrying when he hit you at the intersection. They don’t want you to know that. We know how to learn the dollar amount of their coverage.
How injury cases are valued – If you want to sell your car, you go to a car dealer or other expert to find out what it is worth. Sometimes, settlement is a good idea. But would you not be better off if you consulted with an attorney to find out what your case might be worth? The insurance company will not tell you what your case might be worth. Most of these cases are handled for a reasonable contingency fee (33%), it does not cost you anything out of pocket, and the added value usually covers much more than our fee.
“We get paid if you get paid.” – See, Contingent Fees in the “Articles” section of this website.
Their pictures and other investigation – Most insurance companies and/or their insurance adjusters take pictures of the automobiles, the extent of the damage, and even skid marks, to support the “claim filed.” These pictures can be very helpful in establishing the degree of impact, the place of impact, and thus the position of the cars at impact. Anyone involved in an automobile accident should take pictures of any cars involved in the accident, even if it means running down one of the cars at a salvage yard because sometimes helpful photographs get “lost.”
Statements to defend against your claim – Insurance companies and/or their insurance adjusters will attempt to make direct contact with all parties involved in the accident, including YOU. They take a statement. And, they are trained to take that statement in a fashion which minimizes the impact, minimizes the collision, minimizes your injury, and thereby minimizes your claim. Sometimes, a short conversation with a knowledgeable attorney can keep you from talking yourself out of a claim when interviewed by the insurance adjuster. Your coverage may help.
Do not forget to examine your own automobile insurance policy – It may provide benefits payable directly to you for medical bills arising from the accident. We can review your policy and provide you a detailed understanding of your coverage, free of charge.
Rental Cars – Oftentimes, your vehicle is damaged and you need transportation. The at-fault driver’s insurance carrier should repair your car, and yes, they are responsible for paying for transportation, i.e. a rental car. And, don’t let them convince you that the number of days is limited by their “company policy.”
Things You Should Do – Always seek medical attention immediately after the accident unless you are absolutely positive that you are not injured in the accident. You should seek medical attention or at least follow-up with your family physician within a day or two of the accident. Persistent migraines, backaches, numbness, tingling and other problems you consider “minor” may develop into serious medical problems long after the date of the accident. In Georgia, you have two years to file a lawsuit before your claim is barred forever, so why get in a rush to settle – wait until you know your injuries are healed.
Tough guys finish last – Some people just don’t like going to see a doctor. They avoid it, procrastinate, and/or postpone the inevitable first visit to the doctor’s office, perhaps because of work or fear of the doctor’s office. This “delay in treatment” will become the insurance company’s biggest ally. Even though many of us feel the same way about rushing to the doctor and incurring out-pocket-costs for medical bills, most of us (as jurors) also frown upon a person claiming injury who waited weeks to go see the doctor. There may be coverages available to pay your medical bills under your own automobile insurance policy (see “Automobile Insurance – What to Buy and Why”). Let us work for you – experience the difference.