When you get hurt in a car accident, you might make the mistake of assuming the insurance company is on your side. Even though an insurance company might have a contractual obligation to pay you fairly, they make their profits when they collect lots of premiums and pay few claims. That means, they’re often looking for a reason to deny or minimize your claim.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to deal with the insurance company effectively. Knowing what to say and when to say it can help you work with the insurance company in a way that maximizes your claim. Here’s what you need to know about how to deal with an insurance company after an auto accident in Tampa.
The insurance company hopes that you’re not going to educate yourself about how to value your claim. They want to give you a low offer with a friendly demeanor in hopes that you’ll accept it and save them both time and money. They’re not going to talk you through how to value your claim or what documentation you need to submit to collect the top dollar amount.
Even if they seem friendly on the phone, they often appear this way to make you feel comfortable so that you will talk more. Usually, what you say outside of court is admissible to a jury. That means you should always deal with the insurance company with caution. You don’t have the same priorities or end game as the insurance company even if the person on the other side of the phone sounds friendly enough.
In Florida, you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company as they process your claim. That means producing things like photographs and other pieces of evidence when they ask for them. However, you don’t have to use the body shop that your insurance company recommends for vehicle repairs.
If you have physical injuries, the insurance company may invoke Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360. This rule allows them to require you to submit to a medical examination by a medical professional of their choice. While you can’t say no, you don’t have to take their professional’s word for it if they dispute your injuries. Remember that the insurance company is in the business of minimizing payments. Often, their medical experts are all too willing to help them minimize their claims.
If you don’t attend a medical examination when you’re asked to by the insurance company, they might argue that your refusal to comply prevents them from gathering evidence about the case. If the court agrees with them, they could throw out your case. This consideration makes it crucial to cooperate with the insurance company’s requests even if you disagree with their conclusions.
It’s helpful to use documentation to justify your settlement demand. If the insurance company offers you a settlement that’s too low, you can ask them to document how they arrived at the number. Then, you can counter with your own documentation. Often, this documentation can help the person assigned to your case. They need to justify their decisions to their supervisors, and having documentation from you can help them in that respect.
You should keep careful records of your medical bills, prescription costs, and even travel expenses to get to medical appointments. You should keep records of your lost wages, lost earnings potential, and any expenses you have because you’re unable to care for your children or take care of things around the home. Also, keep records of your vehicle repairs and related expenses. All of this documentation can help nudge the insurance company to offer a fair settlement.
When you have this documentation together, you can use it to prepare what’s called a demand letter. That’s a letter stating your position to the insurance company and asking for what you believe is a fair resolution of the case. Keeping this letter professional is important. The right demand letter can help convince the insurance company that you’re serious about taking the case all the way to trial if necessary.
When you’re dealing with the insurance company, time can be both your friend and your foe. If you jump at an offer too quickly, the insurance company might think you’re willing to settle your case for a low amount just to get it over with. However, insurance companies also try to use delay tactics.
They might try to stall the claim until the time limitations expire for you to file a formal case. When an insurance company decides to use time to their advantage, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to accept the first offer immediately. However, time can run out if the insurance company delays things for too long.
An experienced Tampa car accident attorney can represent you at any stage of the proceedings. Just having an attorney on your side can be enough to convince the insurance company that you’re in it for the long-haul. It can also send the message to the insurance company that you’re receiving guidance from an expert about the value of your claim. It indicates to them that if they don’t pay you fairly, they may have to answer to a jury.
What you say outside of court is generally admissible in court. This is called an admission by party opponent. That means, if you tell the insurance company something that isn’t helpful to your side of the case, they’ll make a note of it and ask you about it at the trial. When you have an attorney on your side, they do the negotiating for you, so you don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing.
If you have sustained injuries after a car accident, and need advice on the best methods for dealing with the insurance company to maximize your settlement, contact Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys. Jack Bernstein and his highly skilled legal team can help you decide whether to accept a settlement offer, try to get a better offer, or go to trial in a Florida Court.
With over 34 years of experience, Jack Bernstein has seen every insurance trick in the book and can help ensure you don’t make mistakes that will hurt you in the long run. Call (813) 333-6666 to schedule your free consultation today.