Most people don’t give much thought to how insurance policies work until they find themselves needing to be compensated by one. It is only when you are in pain and staring at a mountain of medical bills that this information becomes important. That is also when you learn that dealing with insurance companies is difficult. The goal of every insurance company is to make a profit, and limiting your payout increases profit. Thankfully, if you have been the victim of an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you can contact an experienced personal injury attorney of Tyroler Leonard Injury law at (651) 259-1113 to ensure your legal rights remain protected.
Where it Starts: The Scene of an Accident
Every accident resulting from another person’s negligence will have a different set of facts and circumstances. In any case, however, the insurance process will start shortly after the accident occurs. Of course, the priority after an accident is to get to safety and make sure all parties involved are provided any and all medical attention they need, including calling 911 for police and emergency responders.
Car and Truck Accidents
In a serious truck or car accident, the law requires you to report the accident to authorities and share your contact/insurance information with any other driver involved in the crash. If possible, you should also document the damage and road conditions by taking photographs. Additionally, if there were witnesses, gather their names and contact information, as they could aid in the evidence supporting your claim in an insurance settlement.
You are also expected to give a statement to the police and report the accident to your insurance company. However, you have the right to have a lawyer present for these conversations . . . and to protect your rights, you should. If there is a delay, write down your recollections of the accident so you don’t forget what happened.
If you are bitten by a dog, typically, the owner will be responsible for the injuries you suffered in that attack. But you can get compensation only if you take appropriate action. The most important step is to get the contact information for the dog owner. The best way to do this is to take a picture of their government-issued ID. Ideally, you would also get their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy information, but few people keep that information on them.
Additionally, you should contact Animal Control and report the accident (you can do this by calling 911). Similar to a car accident, you should also document the scene and record any memories of the attack (like whether the dog was on a leash). If the owner flees the scene, report the attack to the police and provide as much information as you can about the owner and dog.
One of the situations where you should be most cautious of insurance companies is when you are injured at work. Your employer is responsible for almost all injuries you suffer on the job. That means their insurance company is responsible for compensation. Because the insurer and your employer want to protect themselves, you will typically be asked to sign a lot of paperwork after an injury, and you might get a quick settlement offer. You should avoid signing anything or accepting any compensation until you speak to a lawyer.
Instead, document everything and let your attorney investigate the situation. There is a good chance your workplace may owe you more than you expect. For example, if it wasn’t following OSHA regulations or was requiring you to do work you weren’t trained for, you could be eligible for additional compensation. But you can only get this if you don’t sign away your rights.
If you are involved in a slip-and-fall accident, especially if it is at a business, your experience is likely to be similar to what you’d have after a work accident. Typically, a lawyer or manager will attempt to get you to sign paperwork absolving the premises owner of liability. Don’t sign anything. Document the scene, focusing on what made you fall.
For example, if you slipped on a puddle in the doorway, take pictures of the puddle and show that there weren’t any safety measures taken to prevent it or clean it up. You should also collect the names of employees, but don’t bother trying to interview them. They are unlikely to reveal anything useful while at work under the eye of a boss. Accidents like this do not need to be reported to the police.
When the Dust Settles: The Insurance Adjuster
After an accident due to someone else’s negligence, an insurance claims adjuster from the negligent party’s insurance company may contact you. The insurance adjusters are trained negotiators who will be friendly and act helpful, but they work for the insurance company and their job is to assess the liabilities of the person or persons involved in the accident and the damages involved. Make no mistake, their job is to minimize the expenses, including payouts to victims.
Make sure to consider the following if you do make the decision to visit with an insurance adjuster after your accident:
- Do not allow yourself to be recorded in any conversation which can be used at a later time to reduce your insurance settlement offer.
- Do not accept any blame or responsibility for the accident.
- Do not engage in any small talk that could be used against you.
- Do not consent to have your entire medical history submitted to the insurance company.
Even in this early contact with an insurance adjuster, it is often wise to consider having a personal injury attorney negotiate on your behalf in order to ensure that you are not being taken advantage of during this process. Without proper negotiations, you could be offered just a fraction of the compensation you deserve under the law. It is important to understand that if you do discuss your case with an insurance adjuster, they may attempt to dissuade you from contacting a lawyer. Consider visiting with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you get the full and fair insurance settlement you deserve.
What They Offer: The Insurance Settlement Check
The Insurance Information Institute notes there were 6.7 million car accidents in 2018 in the United States, totaling nearly 1.9 million injuries, 33,600 deaths, and resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damages. While these figures are troubling, most people believe that insurance will provide compensation for any injuries and losses in the event of an accident due to someone else’s negligence. Unfortunately, too often an insurance company will offer an insurance settlement far lower than what will pay for a victim’s medical bills, damages, lost wages, and suffering.
After an investigation into who is at fault, to what degree, and what the losses are, the insurance company will offer an insurance settlement. Oftentimes, this first offer is far less than what your economic and non-economic losses actually total. While every accident case is different, you may have the legal right to pursue the following:
- Damages to property
- Medical costs, including ambulance and emergency room care, prescribed drugs, follow-up doctor visits, physical therapy, and the cost of transportation to and from medical appointments
- Future medical costs for long-term effects
- Loss of wages due to missed work
- Loss of future wages
- Pain and suffering damages
- Punitive damages.
Consider visiting with an experienced attorney at Tyroler Leonard Injury Law to help you understand your legal rights and begin your next steps.
Who is on Your Side: Tyroler Leonard Injury Law
With the insurance companies working so hard to pay as little as possible to victims in the insurance settlement process, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney to negotiate on your behalf can ensure that you receive the compensation for your injuries and losses you deserve. Additionally, Tyroler Leonard Injury Law takes personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that victims pay nothing unless our attorneys are able to recover money for them. If you are feeling overwhelmed dealing with your insurance company and feel that you may not receive a full and fair settlement offer, consider talking with the experienced personal injury attorneys at Tyroler Leonard Injury Law at (651) 259-1113 today for a free consultation.