Heading north on 93 or Route 1 to or from work, pulling into the North Shore Mall or heading to the North End after a Celtics game, a car accident is an unexpected jolt. Your first reaction might be to call your significant other, or the police. After the shock wears off, everyone in the accident has been stabilized, and the police and any needed emergency medical folk are contacted, you think to call your insurance company. Have you ever thought of calling an attorney before your insurance company?
“Anything you say can and will be used against you…” The Miranda rights are well known. If your first thought was that this is for criminal stuff, you’re right. But it makes sense to have the same philosophy in civil matters such as a car accident and dealing with a claims adjuster.
Television floods us with advertisements from insurance companies that promise to give the best coverage at the lowest price. Each one screaming how it will beat the other’s price, using characters and icons like the Geico Gecko, Flo and all her whiteness, or the Green Bay quarterback and that silly cheese hat (hey Rogers, a little more time on the practice field and less in the TV studio and who knows, next year maybe you can beat Seattle).
The commercials portray the insurance companies as being on your side. Even their slogans send that loyal, we’ve-got-your-back message, “Like a good neighbor…” or “Nationwide is on your side”. One even uses the beloved Snoopy to send that message!
What they are hiding from you is that the insurance company has its own agenda – profits. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums, AND by denying claims or paying less than the value of an injury or loss. Flo, the Gecko and Snoopy are marketing ploys to get you to pay your premiums and then to think of them as your friend so that you will help them, unwittingly, to minimize any loss payment.
Typically, after being in an automobile accident, your heart is racing and you are unsure of what to do next. You call the police and then your insurance company thinking they will be on your side. The claims adjuster takes down your information and then will likely ask that you make a recorded statement of the events. Check your policy, most likely you have no legal obligation to give a recorded statement. Don’t do it unless you must, because your statement may hurt you later. Saying something simple like, “He came out of nowhere” or “I never saw her before we hit” or “I had a glass of wine at dinner”, may prejudice your claim. Once an accident happens, the insurance company has one primary goal – to minimize its payout.
We strongly recommend that you speak with an experienced injury lawyer BEFORE speaking to any insurance adjuster or company representative.
If you have already filed an accident claim with your insurance carrier and don’t believe the insurance company is being fair or taking your side, a personal injury lawyer can assist you in making sure the car insurance company is acting in good faith. Car insurance companies have the responsibility to act in “good faith” when reviewing an accident claim. However, if the company tries to avoid paying out on a claim, it may be acting in “bad faith” and an attorney can assist you in assuring that your claim is handled effectively and fairly.
Examples of bad faith include:
Denying your claim without proper investigation;
Failing to communicate important information regarding the claim;
Putting off payment for unreasonable periods of time; and
Paying less than what is reasonably owed.
The insurance companies have lawyers working hard on their side to reduce payouts; and you should have an attorney looking out for you. Make sure that your rights are protected after an accident, call an experienced personal injury attorney who will be on your side, protecting your interest.