Driving is such a part of our daily lives that avoiding car accidents may seem impossible. Getting into a traffic accident is stressful, even when the other driver is clearly at-fault and gracious enough to claim liability.
Much of this stress is due to dealing with insurance companies. The claim process is taxing and can often be drawn out for days or weeks. If you find yourself in an accident, there are a few things you should avoid saying, both to your insurance company and the other driver. How you behave at the scene of the crash affects your potential compensation or the amount you will owe.
Avoid these words to prevent slowing down the claim’s process and protect yourself:
“I’m Not Hurt.”
You shudder when you recall the shrieking of tires across the pavement, the thud of the other car, the sudden whiplash of the airbag. Just grateful to be alive, you hastily tell the concerned driver or the insurance company “Hey, it’s fine, I’m not hurt.” There are a few reasons this is a problem.
Sometimes short-term pain is masked by stress or relief hormones like endorphins, adrenaline, or others. In these cases, the crash victims feel no pain until the following day. Other medical problems are latent and do not occur until days after the crash. After the tumultuous event, your mental state is unprepared to dictate whether or not the crash physically affected you.
If the insurance company asks how you are feeling, simply tell them you plan to see a doctor and you will keep them informed. If it turns out you are in pain, the insurance company will recall your initial statement and assume you lied.
Insurance companies are always on the lookout for all manner of fraud. The word “whiplash” is a red flag for insurance claim experts. It is a cliché among vehicle injury fraud, so when companies see or hear this word, they will drag out the claim process to ensure you are telling the truth.
If your neck does hurt, simply say that, but avoid discussing anything specific. Insurance agents are not medical experts, but they are collecting information they hope will minimize your claim.
Avoid immediately telling the insurance company anything specific, but especially numbers like how fast you were going, estimations on distances, or other cars involved in the crash. The latter is especially true in multi-car pileups.
Mostly, the reason for this is that it can sometimes be impossible to know, and your best guess can be detrimental to your claim. Unless you were using cruise control, you cannot even readily state how fast you were traveling. Always hold out until you can speak with your attorney. If an agent asks for this information, politely tell him or her you will collect as much information as possible and get back when you are certain.
“I Lack Representation.”
Whether or not you need legal help is up to you, but never state you do not have an attorney. Insurance companies take standalone clients less seriously and attempt to employ methods to renege on what you are owed.
“I Did It” or “It Was My Fault.”
The insurance company is not your friend. Anything you say which is overhead at the crash site can be used against you later. Confide in our skilled attorneys with the crash details, and we can instruct you how to proceed.
Do not trust an insurance company alone. Our Houston personal injury lawyers can guide you through the often complex world of insurance claims. Contact us through our website or by phone at 713-224-4878.