A motor vehicle collision can have an impact on your life that persists for months or even for the rest of your life. Whether you suffered severe injuries or a loved one got hurt, you may be struggling to cover medical bills while also dealing with the loss of income the injury caused.
If you are like most Colorado drivers, you will probably assume that your motor vehicle insurance policy will protect you from the financial consequences of a crash. However, that will depend on the nature of the crash and the kind of coverage that you carry.
Your success in negotiating with the insurance company and getting the compensation you need will also depend on how you handle the claims process.
Never apologize or admit fault
It is common practice to apologize if your actions could cause inconvenience or stress for others. That could mean that you feel the need to apologize to the other driver at the scene of the crash, even though they clearly caused the accident. You might also feel compelled to apologize to the police officer responding to the collision or even the insurance agent taking down your claim information.
It is possible for savvy attorneys to use even the blandest of apologies as evidence that you believe yourself to be at least partially at fault in a crash. A finding of partial responsibility, also known as comparative liability, will drastically reduce how much you can get from insurance companies or a personal injury lawsuit.
Don’t make an official statement without someone in your corner
If the other driver caused the crash, their insurance company will likely be the one that ends up paying the claim. Whether it is a different business or the same company you use for your insurance, you need to be careful about what statements you make to the insurance company in the wake of the crash.
Specifically, you need to protect against implicating yourself during a recorded statement. Insurance adjusters and investigators will intentionally ask leading questions meant to get people to implicate themselves. The goal is to limit the liability the company has for the financial consequences of the crash.
While it may not be as pressing as representation for a police interview, having an attorney advocating for you during an insurance statement could prevent you from a minor mistake that drastically impacts your rights.
Don’t jump when the company offers you a settlement
After the insurance carrier determines faults and reviews the costs you’ve incurred due to the crash, they will likely make a settlement offer. Making a lump sum settlement offer is a common strategy that companies use to limit their future liability for a claim. The amount of the offer may seem tempting at first, but you do need to carefully review it before you accept it.
The total cost of the lost wages, medical expenses and property damage you suffered in the crash could well exceed the settlement amount. Once you accept the settlement, you likely waive your right to seek any future compensation related to the injuries from the crash. Your lawyer can help you review a settlement and determine if the amount is appropriate. If they advise you that it is not, they can help you counter the initial settlement offer and negotiate for a better outcome.