In the aftermath of a car accident, you’re likely to get a phone call from the other party’s insurance company — a call where the voice on the other end seems friendly and eager to help you. However, we highly recommend that you enlist the help of an experienced attorney to deal with the other party’s insurance company, rather than talking with them directly — especially if you’ve sustained injury or damage. The reason is simple: Many insurance companies have a habit of trying to trick car accident victims into forfeiting part or all of their settlement, and an attorney is better able to keep these companies accountable.
Let’s look at two common methods insurance companies often use to trick car accident victims, and how you can avoid these pitfalls.
Method 1: Talking you into an admission of fault
When speaking to the other party’s insurance company, it usually comes across like the agent is simply fact-finding to determine how much they need to pay you for your injuries and loss. In reality, their questions are often skewed to prompt you into unwittingly admitting that you played a role in the accident itself — that something you did contributed to it. Georgia is a comparative negligence state, which means if the other side can get you to acknowledge some of the blame, they can use it against you in court to reduce the amount of your settlement. Any admission of fault at any level can hurt your chances for a settlement, and the insurance companies know this.
How to avoid this pitfall
Don’t engage the insurance company directly at all. Instead, refer all their questions to your attorney.
(ANOTHER HELPFUL HINT: Keep your complaints about the accident off your social media accounts. Many insurance companies today have taken the habit of following the plaintiff on social media to see if they post anything that could be useful to weaken their case.)
Method 2: Convincing you to take a low-ball settlement offer
Another common tactic of insurance companies is to bypass the blame game entirely and offer you a quick settlement. This can be quite tempting because the payout happens quickly, and most victims feel like they need the money. However, this is typically bait, and it’s highly inadvisable for two reasons: 1) The settlement offer is usually a fraction of what you’re legally entitled to receive; and 2) If you take the settlement, it usually comes with a provision that you drop the matter, meaning you can’t come back for more money later. If you take the settlement offer, that’s all you’ll get—and it probably won’t be enough.
How to avoid this pitfall
Be suspicious of any quick settlement offer, and never take the offer without consulting an attorney.
We aren’t suggesting that every insurance company is dishonest, but you must remember that the other party’s insurance isn’t looking out for your interests; they’re trying to pay as little as possible. If you’re a car accident victim, don’t be tricked by an insurance company looking to pay less. Hire an experienced personal injury attorney to make sure you get the full amount to which you’re entitled. Call Sutton Slover today at 404.768.0292 for a free case evaluation.