Although Illinois law requires all drivers to have insurance to be prepared for the worst, that is often as far as preparation goes. In fact, many people do not know that an insurance company’s main goal is not to protect its policyholders but to make money off them. As such, it is the norm for these companies to offer policyholders lowball payouts when seeking compensation after a crash. Don’t let your insurance company take advantage of you—strengthen your case by avoiding these 7 common mistakes.
Telling the Insurance Company More Than You Should
First things first, do not tell the insurance company anything more than you need to. For example, you do not need to tell the insurance agent what you were doing leading up to the accident. Further, do not admit even partial fault—the insurance agent will most likely use such an admission to argue that your share of the blame is way bigger than it actually is. Remember, it is their job to make sure their employer pays you as little as possible.
Giving the Insurance Company a Recorded Statement
This mistake is a close relative of telling the insurance company too much—and it happens all too often. Typically, the insurance agent will tell policyholders that obtaining a recorded statement is part of their employer’s standard procedure for processing claims. Do not be fooled by this, no matter how nice or helpful the insurance agent seems. Any information obtained in a recorded statement can be used against you to minimize your payment or deny your claim altogether.
Losing Track of or Not Gathering Evidence
Most drivers know that the most important thing to do after an accident (besides taking stock of your injuries and, if needed, calling 911) is to gather as much evidence as possible. Take pictures of the scene, all vehicles involved, the other drivers’ insurance information, and even any visible injuries. Make sure to also exchange contact information with other drivers and any witnesses. It is important to continue gathering evidence as you seek treatment for your injuries, as well: Document and take pictures of your injuries after any surgeries, treatments, etc. and keep a copy of all your medical bills.
All this evidence can be used to back up your insurance claim. If you need to take the case to court, it will become even more important.
Waiting to See a Medical Professional for Your Injuries
The longer you wait, the worse your injuries can get. In addition to being bad for your health, waiting to see a medical professional can also wreck your case—insurance agents are likely to point to any gaps in treatment as proof that your injury wasn’t as bad as you claim.
Waiting too Long to Start an Insurance Claim
Waiting too long to start an insurance claim may also be used against you to claim your injuries or any damage to your vehicle is not as bad as you claim. Worse, an insurance agent may argue that the true cause was another accident. There are also legal deadlines to worry about. If you wait to start your insurance claim and are met with unfavorable results, you may have inadvertently reduced the time you have to file a lawsuit.
Giving up and Accepting a Lowball Payout
It is standard practice for insurance agents to quickly offer a low payout. They may claim that this settlement is the very best they could do, which is almost always a bluff. Thus, it is wise to negotiate with the insurance agent instead of accepting their settlement offer. Remember, you will have no legal recourse once you accept a settlement.
Not Knowing the True Value of Your Case
While we recommend negotiating with your insurance agent, we are well aware this can be difficult to do if you do not know how much your case is worth. Make sure to do your research. An attorney can also give you an initial valuation of your case—our attorneys offer free case evaluations with no strings attached. This can help give you an idea of how strong your case is, whether legal action is worth it, or if settling with the insurance company is the best course of action for you.
As you can see, what you do in the days after a car accident can greatly impact your case—for better or worse. This can come as unwelcome news if you have been seriously injured; there is no doubt that it can be difficult to stay on top of the insurance claims process while nursing an injury, but it is possible. We at The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm hope this blog has helped you feel more confident about navigating this difficult time.
Should you need further guidance, our attorney team has over 100 years of combined experience in litigating auto accident cases, from negotiating with insurance agents during the claims process to advocating for clients in court. To set up a free consultation with one of our acclaimed attorneys, contact our Charleston, IL firm online or at (217) 394-5885 today.