After a car accident, it pays to conduct your interactions with insurance companies very carefully. While insurance companies can offer a great service, they are also profit-driven businesses that will gladly avoid paying out more than they have to. Even if the insurance company represents you, it will look and listen for reasons to reduce compensation for your losses and suffering due to the accident.
If you want to protect your rights and compensation potential after an accident, you can follow these guidelines. It is also helpful to have the representation of an attorney. An attorney who has experience dealing with insurance companies understands how to navigate their system and keep you from receiving much less than you deserve in a settlement.
Directly after the accident
You should not wait long to notify insurance companies of the accident, but be sure that you understand your coverage before you speak with your own insurance company. Your insurance company could be using everything you say to reduce any payout to you. Remember, you do not have to allow them to record you.
You may be asked to sign a waiver or release after the accident. While some of these may be acceptable, many of them can deprive you of receiving full, appropriate compensation – or could even be used to claim that you are actually liable for the accident. Before you sign any such document, be sure to receive professional legal counsel.
As the company processes the claim
The immediate aftermath of the accident is not the only time you should remain careful when you deal with insurance companies. They may try to convince you that you deserve less than you do at many points throughout the claim review.
For instance, the insurer may give you an estimate for the damages to your vehicle. You do not have to accept this estimate without comparing it with your preferred auto shop – or several.
Your insurer may try to get you to accept their offer by sending it to you in the form of a check. Do not deposit or cash any check if it says “final offer” or anything similar.
Your insurer may simply wait it out if you don’t pay attention to the time limits regarding your claim. If you do not stay on top of the various deadlines in your policy, you may lose your right to sue. Many policies require an individual to file a “proof of loss” document within a certain amount of time. Even if you file the proof of loss properly, you may only have a fixed amount of time after the accident to resolve your claim.
Act quickly to keep your options open
Insurance companies require careful action if you want to keep your rights protected throughout the course of filing a claim. They may use various tactics in an attempt to delay or minimize your claim. However, under Texas law, you have the right to receive payment in a timely manner. Additionally, if you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you also have two years from the date of the accident to initiate that process under the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code section 16.003. Therefore, time is of the essence. Often, without the guidance of a legal professional, a victim may lose precious benefits that they deserve.
Be sure that you have all the help you need to pursue fair compensation for your losses and to keep your rights secure following an accident.