It’s no secret that a car accident can wreak havoc on your life. Suddenly, you’re left with painful injuries, costly medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and other stressors that have complicated your life significantly. It’s natural to feel concerned about how you will be able to focus on your physical recovery while worrying about the financial aspects of your injuries. Fortunately, California allows injured car accident victims to pursue compensation to assist with costs associated with the collision. However, it’s essential to avoid common mistakes that could jeopardize your chances of recovering a fair and favorable settlement. In addition to enlisting the guidance of an experienced and trusted Temecula attorney to help you navigate the claims process, you should avoid the following pitfalls to ensure you maximize your settlement offer to support your recovery.
Mistake #1: Neglecting to Seek Medical Attention
Those who suffer severe injuries in a car accident will likely need immediate medical attention. However, many people sustain seemingly minor injuries, such as cuts, bruises, or muscle stiffness, and they may not believe these injuries warrant medical attention. Even if you do not think you need a full medical evaluation, scheduling a visit with your doctor is critical for two reasons. First, the doctor can assess you for any harder-to-detect conditions, like internal bleeding or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Second, having your injuries documented will show the insurance company that you are taking your health seriously. You can use these documents to help calculate the costs of your injuries and strengthen your claim.
Mistake #2: Thinking the Insurance Adjustor is on Your Side
When you initiate the claims process, the insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster to handle your case. However, you should recognize that the adjustor’s loyalty lies with the insurance company, so they will do everything they can to protect the bottom line. Approach your conversations with the insurance adjuster with caution, as they may try to get you to admit fault or otherwise undermine your claim. Even if they claim to be “on your side” and express sympathy for your injuries, refrain from becoming too personal with them. Stick to the facts of the accident and say as little as possible to avoid jeopardizing the strength of your claim.
Mistake #3: Signing a General Medical Release
Although the insurance company may compensate you for your auto accident injuries, they can look for any pre-existing injuries or conditions to discredit or undermine your claim. Avoid signing blanket medical releases that allow insurance companies to access all your medical information for the last five to ten years. Adjusters do not need this information to settle a minor injury claim, so opt out of signing this type of release. Instead, you can sign a limited release that provides the insurance company with medical records pertaining only to the accident. You can also request your medical records and bills from the affiliated hospital or medical clinic and provide copies to the insurance adjuster. This way, you remain in control of the information the insurance adjuster can access.
Mistake #4: Accepting an Initial Settlement Offer
Many insurance companies know that accident victims are desperate to access the compensation they need to pay back the medical bills and other expenses incurred by the incident. Unfortunately, adjusters often attempt to take advantage of this eagerness by making an initial lowball settlement offer, hoping the claimant will accept it without question. Accepting the initial offer almost always denies you the full amount of compensation you need to support your recovery, so pushing for a more equitable settlement offer is worth the extra time and effort. Your attorney can help you negotiate a more accurate settlement, and insurance companies are usually willing to work with you to arrive at a more favorable amount to avoid the matter proceeding to litigation.
Mistake #5: Trying to Navigate the Process on Your Own
Although California does not require accident victims to hire an attorney to proceed with an insurance claim, doing so is highly recommended. The last thing an injured individual wants to think about when focusing on their physical recovery is engaging in stressful communications with insurance companies. Instead, let your attorney handle these negotiations on your behalf. Experienced Riverside County auto accident lawyers understand the adjuster’s tactics and know how to push for a more fair and favorable settlement offer. Your attorney will work hard to maximize your settlement offer to ensure you have the financial support you need to focus on getting your life back on track after the accident.
Call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320 to speak with an experienced and dedicated Temecula auto accident lawyer.