No matter how kind and empathetic the insurance agent sounds on the phone, it’s important to remember that they are an employee of a business with one goal: to maximize their profits.
After a car wreck, your body may be injured and hurting. Your mind may be swirling with worry about the impact on your health and pocketbook. You may have no idea what to expect as you work through the accident report, repairs to your vehicle, medical appointments for your injuries, and insurance settlements.
Unfortunately, the insurance company is poised to leverage your distress and the fact that you may not have a lot of experience with car wrecks.
For this article, we’ve drawn on insider knowledge from our experienced Las Vegas car wreck lawyers. We’ll share information that too many car accident victims don’t know—and that insurance companies don’t want you to know. Our hope is that this article can help lead you to a successful resolution of your car accident case.
1. You can enlist the help of a car accident attorney immediately.
A lot of people think they have to talk to an insurance adjuster before they speak to an attorney. We think this is backwards.
In the blurry aftermath of a car wreck, you might say things that could be incriminating to you and helpful to the offending driver. An experienced car wreck attorney knows what to say (and what not to say) to preserve the integrity of your case. An attorney can also make sure you gather the correct evidence from the accident scene, including testimonials from witnesses.
If you’re concerned about the cost of hiring an attorney, look for a firm that operates on contingency fees. This means they won’t get paid until your case is successfully resolved. Then, they will get paid from your settlement.
2. The police report may not be the final word.
Many view the police report as the sacred cow of evidence, untouchable and immune to questioning. This need not be the case, especially if you believe that it contains errors. In many cases, our car accident attorneys have conducted their own investigations and exposed errors in police reports, allowing our clients to get the settlement they deserve.
3. You don’t have to take the first settlement offer.
In fact, in many cases, you shouldn’t take the first offer. Insurance companies are famous for their lowball offers. Many car accident victims see the debts piling up from their wrecked car, medical bills, and missed work. They hear that first settlement offer, and all they can see is freedom from their immediate bills.
But even though that offer may sound enticing at first, it may not be nearly enough to cover future expenses, like ongoing medical therapies, pain management, adaptive medical equipment, counseling for PTSD, etc.
A good auto accident attorney will have seen enough injuries that they can help you anticipate future costs. They will negotiate a settlement that won’t leave you footing bills the other driver should be paying.
4. You can challenge the insurance company’s medical evaluation.
Depending on the circumstances of your car wreck, some insurance companies require you to see a doctor of their choosing for an “Independent Medical Exam” (IME).
The problem is that since these doctors are being paid by the insurance company, they are obliged to protect the insurance company’s interest. As a result, you don’t end up with an objective medical exam but rather one designed to limit the insurance company’s payouts.
If you are required to show up for one of these exams, be respectful and honest about your injuries (both preexisting injuries and those caused by the car crash). Don’t try to make your injuries sound better or worse than they actually are.
If you can bring a medical professional along with you (nurse, etc.), do so. If not, bring a friend or family member. They can observe the exam and document their impressions after they leave the office.
Don’t offer any information beyond what the doctor asks you. After the visit, document the exam from your perspective.
It’s very common for doctors performing IMEs to chalk your accident injuries up to preexisting conditions or downplay your injuries. If you don’t believe the IME results are accurate, enlist the help of an attorney. They can highlight the discrepancies between your own doctor’s exam and the IME and defend the validity of your injuries.
5. You may still be entitled to compensation even if you were partially at fault.
Nevada has a comparative negligence law, which means that if you bear the responsibility for 50% or less of the accident, you may still be able to sue for damages. An attorney can help you know if your case is viable in spite of your fault in the accident.
6. Social media can hurt your case.
If you have been in an injury accident, the very best policy is to stay off of social media. Anything you say in these forums can be used against you.
Ideally, you shouldn’t post or comment on others’ posts. Here’s why: Let’s say that after your car wreck, you go to the park with some buddies to shoot hoops and post about it afterward. You know that you were only using your non-injured arm and taking it easy. The insurance company may take that post and present it in such a way that it looks like you’re far less injured than you’re claiming to be.
Or maybe you’re not posting but merely commenting on a friend’s post: “Nice effort out there, but you’ll never touch my jump shot.” Again, you could have been shooting very cautiously or not shooting at all, but your words give the impression that you’re in better shape than you are.
7. Expect delays.
The simplest car accident cases can be settled in weeks or months, but let’s say there are disputes over liability or damages. These complexities can bog a personal injury lawsuit down for a year or more.
Where timing is concerned, our advice is to hope for the best but expect the worst. If you are impatient for things to resolve quickly, you could jump at a settlement offer that’s way too low. Insurance companies may even play on your impatience, dragging their feet so that you’ll get desperate enough to take their lowball offer.
When you understand the tactics of Big Insurance, you can keep the upper hand in a case. At Tingey Injury Law Firm, we have worked with insurance companies for 50 years and seen it all. We can see through their agenda and keep them from taking advantage of our clients.
Searching for a “car wreck attorney near me?” Our Las Vegas car accident lawyers stand ready to help.