When you’ve been in an accident, you’ll start receiving a number of phone calls. Most of them will be from people who want to see how you are doing. You might even hear from long-lost friends who have heard about the accident. After these calls, you’ll probably start hearing from your job, wondering when you’ll be able to make it in again. You might even start hearing from your doctor, trying to schedule more appointments and making sure that you are following your doctor’s orders. Another call you are likely to get is from the other driver’s insurance company, trying to get you to settle your case. If you receive such a call, you’ll want to stop and follow the steps below.
Don’t ignore the phone calls from the other party’s insurance, even if you aren’t sure about taking a settlement. This is your first chance to open the lines of communication and a good way for you to see exactly how the insurance company is going to treat you. No matter what they say, you don’t have to make an immediate decision as to whether or not you’ll take the settlement. Instead, you should respond to the claims adjuster calmly and professionally.
Start by taking down all the relevant information. If you are given a monetary amount of the settlement, record that. You should also record to whom you spoke and when. If the insurance adjuster claims that you won’t get a second chance to take the offer or threatens you in any way, make sure to write this down as well. You’ll need all this information as you move on to the next step.
Call a Lawyer
Generally, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer as soon as you are involved in any kind of auto accident. This not only helps you to start planning what to do next, but it’s a good way to make sure you are prepared for calls from the other party’s insurance company. If you don’t already have a lawyer, you’ll want to make sure you get one quickly. Don’t leave things to chance – contact an attorney.
Once you have an attorney, you’ll want to repeat all the information that you were given by the claims adjuster. Your attorney will be able to tell quite a bit from what you are told, so don’t leave out any information. It’s important not just that the attorney knows the point from which the other side is willing to start negotiating, but also the tactics they are using when talking to you. Always provide your attorney with as much data as possible, as this will let him or her better formulate a strategy.
Once you’ve talked ot your attorney, you can begin planning for the future. You can discuss whether you think offer was fair and whether you think it would be helpful for you to negotiate. The money offered to you by the insurance company should be thought of as an opening offer, not a final offer. You may be able to negotiate with the company to get more money, but doing so may also put them off from settling with you. You’ll want to walk a fine line.
When you are considering what to do next, you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re expecting to get in terms of payment. Do you need medical bills covered? Car repair bills? Are you looking for money to make up for time missed at work, or for your future care? If you need more than the insurance company is offering you, it might be a good idea to consider turning down the offer.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you respond to the insurance company. You don’t have to agree to the settlement, and saying no definitely doesn’t mean you will have to go to court. If you believe you are being offered too little, let the company know. If you have a lawyer, it’s usually a good idea to let him or her deal with that part of the process. This will let the insurance company know that you are taking the offer seriously but that you are willing to fight if necessary. Your response will have a huge impact on your near future, so consider it carefully.
Remember, an insurance company that is offering you a settlement is trying to reduce its own potential losses. If they are calling you, they believe there is a chance that they could lose more money fighting you in court. You have the option of taking a check, but you also have the option of pursuing other means of restitution. Always consider your options carefully and make the decision that works best for your situation.