- Whether speaking to your insurance company or the other driver’s, keep your answers short and simple, and don’t get into too much detail about your accident or injuries.
- The more information you offer up to an insurance representative, the higher the risk you will say something that will jeopardize your claim and reduce your compensation.
- The other driver’s insurance company is not on your side — in fact, it’s the representative’s job to help their company pay as little as possible for claims.
- When you hire a car accident lawyer to help with your auto accident claim, your lawyer can speak to the insurance companies on your behalf.
After you’ve been hurt in a car accident, good communication is critical. Knowing how to talk to an insurance company agent — what to say and what not to say — can have a huge impact on the settlement amount an insurance company will offer as compensation for your injuries. Unfortunately, understanding how to communicate with an insurance company doesn’t come naturally and isn’t something you learn in school.
Whether it’s your insurance carrier or the other driver’s, it’s only a matter of time before the insurance company contacts you about your car accident, and they are going to have a lot of questions. Knowing how to answer these questions can help strengthen your chances of obtaining compensation for the injuries you suffered in your accident.
Who to Call After a Car Accident
After a car accident, it’s critical to take steps to protect your legal rights and avoid putting your compensation in jeopardy. This starts with knowing who you should contact after an accident.
A Personal Injury Attorney
Insurance companies are great actors. Their representatives are skilled in luring those who have been injured in car accidents into a false sense of security. Unfortunately, the more comfortable an accident victim feels with an insurance company representative, the more likely the victim is to say or do something that might jeopardize their claim.
To ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to protect your interests, an experienced personal injury lawyer should be at the top of your list of calls to make after an accident. When you are represented by an auto accident attorney, the insurance company no longer deals with you directly — they communicate through your attorney. This means that your attorney can work with the insurance company on your behalf to help you recover the compensation you need for the injuries you sustained in your car accident.
An attorney can ensure your rights are protected against the typical stunts an insurance company will try to pull and allow you to focus on what really matters after an auto accident — recovering to the fullest extent that you can.
Your Car Insurance Carrier
After you are involved in a car accident, you or your attorney will need to contact your auto insurance company as soon as possible. You may have heard a common myth that you don’t have to notify your own insurance company about the accident if the accident was not your fault, but this is not true. In fact, not only are you required to report the accident to your insurance company, but you are required to do so within a reasonable time.
Failure to report the accident to your insurance carrier in a timely manner can prevent you from recovering financial compensation from your insurance company for collision coverage, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for your injuries, and any other forms of coverage that you may have in your own auto insurance policy.
While it’s critical to contact your auto insurance company after a car accident, be careful about what you say. Your insurance company needs to know the basics of your accident, such as the time, date, and place where the accident occurred. Until you’ve contacted a personal injury lawyer, though, it’s best to keep your conversations with your insurance company to a minimum and avoid any discussions of who was at fault for the accident.
It’s also wise to hold off on giving your insurance company a recorded statement about your accident until you’ve discussed the details of the accident with a personal injury attorney. If your insurance company requests a recorded statement, you can respectfully decline until a later time, or even tell the insurance representative to reach out to your attorney.
Who Not to Call After a Car Accident
After you’ve been involved in a car accident, there will be a lot of calls to make. From friends and family to your employer, you will have plenty of people to inform about your accident.
However, one phone call that you should not add to this list is the other driver’s insurance company. There’s no benefit to be gained from contacting the other driver’s insurance company first. In fact, you could actually hurt your chances of receiving compensation if you start offering up too much information. Let them contact you, not the other way around.
Generally, we encourage clients NOT to give a statement to the insurance company prior to consulting with us. If you have been injured in the accident and want to seek a personal injury claim, you should generally limit your statement to the at-fault party’s insurer to how the accident occurred and the damage done to your vehicle only.
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Who Contacts You After a Car Accident
While it’s critical to know who you should contact after a car accident, it’s equally important to be aware of who will likely be contacting you.
The Other Driver’s Insurance Company
After you’ve been in a car accident, it’s a pretty safe bet that you will receive a phone call from the other driver’s auto insurance company. The minute you figure out that the person on the other end of the line is from the other driver’s insurance company, red flags should pop up in your mind.
The other driver’s insurance company is not on your side — in fact, it’s the representative’s job to help their company pay as little as possible. Speaking with you is a great place for them to start because the more you talk, the greater the chance that you may offer up information that could be used against you during the settlement of a personal injury claim.
Your Own Insurance Company
Once you’ve notified your auto insurance carrier about your car accident, you’ll likely receive several phone calls from your insurance company as well. Even though this is your own insurance company rather than the other driver’s carrier, it’s still important to be careful when speaking to the representatives.
Just like with the other driver’s insurance company, don’t tell your insurance company’s representative any more than you have to. Stick to the general facts, and don’t provide any additional information other than what was asked.
Insurance Companies Will Seek Out Any Negligence in Georgia
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Georgia, one of the first — and most important — steps after your accident is determining who was at fault. The answer to this question can significantly impact the amount of compensation you can be awarded.
When it comes to determining how much compensation to award an injured party after a car accident, Georgia courts follow a legal standard known as “modified comparative fault.” According to this rule, a person who is injured in a car accident can only recover monetary damages for injuries if they were less than 50% at fault for the accident. If the injured accident victim is determined to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, he or she will be barred from recovering any compensation for the injuries sustained in the accident.
For example, Janice is driving down I-85 on her way to work and does not notice that she is drifting into the left-hand lane while she is sending a quick text to her coworker. Tim, who is late for a dentist appointment, is speeding down the highway in the lane beside Janice. He merges into her lane without checking his mirrors, clipping Janice’s car and causing it to spin out of control. Janice suffers substantial injuries in the crash. If Janice is found to be more than 49% at fault for the accident because she violated Georgia’s hands-free law, Janice will be unable to recover compensation for her injuries even though Tim was a cause of the accident as well.
When you seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company, their insurance representatives will do everything they can to pin the blame for the accident on you. After all, if you are deemed 50% or more at fault, you can’t recover any compensation.
Insurance companies are fully aware of Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule. Their representatives are trained to ask you questions about your accident in ways that might cause you to admit to any form of negligence that could have contributed to the accident. It’s important to keep this in mind whenever you speak with the other driver’s insurance company after a car accident and always be careful about the information you offer. Any indication of negligence on your part is a win for the other driver’s insurance carrier.
When the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Calls…
When you’ve suffered injuries in a car accident, it’s only a matter of time before the other driver’s insurance company calls. What you say to the insurance representative can make or break your claim.
Keep the following tips in mind when you’re contacted by the other driver’s insurance company:
- You are not legally required to talk to the other driver’s insurance company. One of the most important things to know is that you are not required to speak to the other driver’s insurance representatives if you don’t want to. If you aren’t comfortable speaking with the insurance company, let the calls go to voicemail. You aren’t required to return the calls.
- Avoid giving a written or recorded statement. If you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance company, it’s a pretty safe bet that the representative will ask you to give a written or recorded statement. Steer clear of providing these if possible — nothing about these statements is meant to be used in your favor. The insurance company is hoping you will say or admit to something that might jeopardize your claim and won’t hesitate to use your own words against you in settlement negotiations.
- Invite them to speak with your auto accident attorney. If you are represented by an attorney and receive a phone call from the other driver’s insurance company, it’s perfectly fine to tell the insurance representative to contact your personal injury attorney. It’s your lawyer’s job to protect your interests and advocate on your behalf, and dealing with the insurance company is one of the ways your attorney can accomplish that goal. It can even help your personal injury claim — lawyers are at the bottom of the list of people insurance companies want to talk to. When an insurance company knows you’re represented by an attorney, it may be more willing to offer a reasonable settlement.
- Give minimum information — or preferably none at all. One of the best ways an insurance company can gather evidence to use against you in your accident claim is by simply getting you to start talking. The more information you offer up to an insurance representative, the higher the risk you will say something that will jeopardize your claim and reduce your compensation. Try to keep to “yes” or “no” answers, and don’t provide any more information than the bare minimum needed to answer the question. This doesn’t mean that you have to be rude — you can answer questions respectfully without being an open book.
- Avoid admitting any mistakes or fault. Because Georgia law bars a person who is 50% or more at fault in an accident from recovering compensation for their injuries, an insurance company is always on the hunt for ways to shift the blame onto you to avoid paying out for a claim. For an insurance company dealing with an auto accident claim, catching you admit fault or say you made a mistake is like winning the lottery. Never admit that you made any mistakes when the accident occurred, and never admit fault.
- Avoid giving information about your injuries and recovery process. Keep the details of your injuries to a minimum. Because the amount of money an insurance company pays for a driver’s injuries depends on how severe the injuries are, insurance company representatives are trained to find information that could lessen the severity of your injuries. Be wary of providing any information that could be misinterpreted or add doubt to your claims. Even a simple answer to a question like “how are you feeling?” can be used against you by insurance companies.
- Document the details of the call. Whether you put pen to paper or fingertip to screen, it’s a good idea to keep a daily journal about your recovery. An important thing to keep in this journal is a log of the phone calls you receive from any insurance company, whether it is the other driver’s or your own. Make a note of the time of the call, ask the name of the representative on the line, and write a summary of the call, including what questions were asked and how you responded to each of them.
When to Trust Speaking with Your Auto Insurance Company
After a car accident, it’s natural to think that your own auto insurance company is on your team — after all, you are their client, and you pay for your insurance policy. In some cases, though, you need to be as cautious with your own auto insurance carrier as you would with another driver’s insurance company.
Be wary about how much information you tell your insurance company if:
- The at-fault driver is insured by the same auto insurance company. Generally, your auto insurance company doesn’t care what the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier has to pay for your injuries — after all, it’s not coming from their wallet. If the at-fault driver is insured by the same carrier as you, however, it’s important to be on alert when you speak with your insurance company. Because the two parties’ insurance companies are the same, a big win on your part is a big loss for your insurance company.
- You will be seeking compensation from your own insurance company instead of someone else’s. Unfortunately, just because Georgia law requires minimum auto insurance coverage doesn’t mean that all drivers follow the rules. If your car wreck was caused by an uninsured motorist or if you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you will have to look to your auto insurance carrier to recover compensation for your injuries through uninsured motorist coverage. Even if the at-fault driver had minimum insurance, you might have to seek additional compensation from your own insurance company if the cost of your injuries surpassed Georgia’s minimum auto insurance coverage limits. If this is the case, you should be careful when speaking with your own insurance company. While you are their client, the insurance company is still a business and having to compensate you for your injuries reduces the insurance company’s bottom line.
If there’s one tip that you should take away from this section, it’s to be careful no matter which insurance company you are seeking compensation from, even if it is your own.
Why It’s Ideal to Have Our Car Accident Lawyer Talk with the Insurance Company
The best step you can take to protect your legal rights is to contact a personal injury attorney to assist you with your car accident claim.
Although auto insurance companies are responsible for providing compensation to those injured in an accident, it’s important to remember that an insurance company is still looking out for its bottom line. Unfortunately, the easiest way for an insurance company to save money is by reducing the amount of compensation paid to injured drivers.
These companies are well-oiled machines, and the lawyers that represent them have a variety of strategies to protect the insurance companies’ wallets and reduce the amount of compensation they must pay.
At The Millar Law Firm, our team of personal injury attorneys don’t just know Georgia auto accident law — we know insurance companies, too. We deal with them day in and day out, and understand how they operate and the tactics they use to wiggle their way out of paying claims. With this knowledge, we can work to educate our clients about how to handle conversations with an insurance company in a way that protects their legal rights after a car accident.
When you’re trying to recover from a car accident, dealing with insurance companies can be exhausting. Part of an attorney’s job is to take the weight of negotiating with the insurance companies off your shoulders and deal with them on your behalf.
When a person is involved in an auto accident and suffers serious injuries, they may start receiving phone calls from the other driver’s insurance adjuster within days or even hours. These adjusters are responsible for establishing your damages to create a settlement offer. It’s important to remember that they are employed by the insurance company and are not on your side. You do not have to speak with them if you feel uncomfortable doing so. If you are represented by a personal injury lawyer, calls from insurance adjusters should be handled by your attorney.
Oftentimes, determining who was at fault for a car accident is pretty black and white. Even though it’s tempting to reaffirm to the insurance company that the other driver was at fault, it’s best to keep all discussions of who caused the accident to a minimum.
When you’ve been hurt in a car accident, a larger settlement for you means a smaller profit for the insurance company. Because of this, insurance representatives are constantly on the hunt for ways to reduce your compensation. The more information you give the insurance company about your accident and the injuries you suffered, the more information the company has in their arsenal to try to use against you. Saying the wrong thing in a written or recorded statement can decrease the compensation you receive for your injuries. In some cases, it can prevent you from being awarded any compensation at all.
We’ve Got the Insurance Companies Covered
If you’re recovering from a car accident in the Atlanta area, you’ve already got enough on your plate. Dealing with calls from insurance companies takes time away from your recovery process and puts you at risk of saying something that could jeopardize your claim.
That’s where we come in. The team of personal injury attorneys at The Millar Law Firm has one goal: To help our clients obtain the financial compensation they deserve for an accident that never should have happened.
If you still have questions, we’re standing by, no matter the time or day. It’s completely free to speak with a member of our legal team about your accident, so you’ve got nothing to lose but a lot to gain. To discuss your accident with one of our personal injury lawyers, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (770) 400-0000 today.