Stop! READ THIS before You Sign Anything from the Insurer
Immediately after any accident, it is common for the insurance company to contact the claimant either in person or by telephone to request a recorded statement. No matter what the insurance adjuster says, the only purpose of a recorded statement is to gather information that can be used against you at a later date.
As such, it is never a good idea to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster – even if he or she says that you have an obligation to cooperate. You do have a duty to cooperate with your own insurer, but if you work with an attorney you can limit the use of a recorded statement against you. AsThe Fundamentalist explains, your insurance company may use your words to undervalue your claim or deny it altogether.
Common Mistakes Claimants Make after Car Accidents
Making a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster is not the only way a claimant can compromise his or her ability to recover fair compensation after a motor-vehicle wreck. Other mistakes include:
Discussing Your Case on Social Media
Insurance companies have clued into the fact that they can use social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to find valuable information to use against claimants. Your posts on social media are usually admissible in court. It is best not to discuss your case with anyone except your personal-injury attorney, but certainly do not post anything about the accident on social media as it is discoverable in future litigation.
Signing a Medical Records Release
In addition to requesting a recorded statement, the insurance adjuster may ask you to sign a medical records release. This would give the insurance company access to your medical history and is a BIG MISTAKE. First, providing them unfettered access to your medical records is an invasion of privacy and anything they find will be used against you. If your insurer finds evidence of pre-existing treatment or injuries, even if years before the current injury, this may reduce your overall recovery or lead to a denial of your claim. Please do not give them more ammunition against you. By hiring an attorney, we can be more selective in considering the medical records sent to the insurer to evaluate the claim to avoid opening up a Pandora’s box of unrelated medical records.
Signing a General Release before Consulting an Accident Lawyer
In most cases, once you sign a general release, you will not be able to claim further compensation for your injuries and losses. You should never do this without your accident lawyer’s approval for several reasons. First, you may be signing a general release of all claims which may bar recovery of other insurance that may be applicable to your claim such as Underinsured Motorist coverage. Second, insurance companies will try to trick you by including a release of property damage or language releasing other rights. Finally, and most importantly, if you sign something too early you may not know the full extent of your injuries. Getting quick money is not usually a good thing as insurers will always try to get the best “deal” for themselves. The bottom line is that if you sign a release without first speaking with an attorney you might not receive fair compensation for medical bills, lost income and other damages. Sometimes this mistake can lead to overwhelming debt – for example, if the claimant does not receive necessary compensation for ongoing medical care.
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