If you have been in a car accident, a truck accident or other motor vehicle accident, an insurance agent will contact you shortly, if they haven’t already. The temptation for most people is to have an open, candid conversation with the insurance agent. Most people are genuinely honest and kind-hearted, so they will openly admit to whatever fault they may have shared in the accident and discuss their injuries. Further, when the insurance agent calls you makes a seemingly generous settlement offer, you will be tempted to accept it immediately.
However, you need to be careful here. It is critical to talk with an experienced lawyer before you talk to the insurance agent, because:
- The insurance company will underpay you for your injuries and damages: The settlement offer from the insurance company will probably seem generous, even exorbitant, but be careful. In most cases, the offer from the insurance company will cover the initial medical bills and property damage to your vehicle. But these offers fail to accommodate or cover the costs of your long-term medical care, which can include medications, physical therapy and other ongoing costs. In most cases, the insurance settlement offer is far below what these cases are truly worth. Especially with the confusing nature of the new insurance coverage laws in Michigan, it is important to be cautious here.
- You could jeopardize your case: Insurance agents appear friendly, accommodating and helpful. However, they are trained to obtain information that would undermine your case in court. For example, they could ask a simple question like “how are you feeling?” You then provide the simple conversational answer of “fine.” The insurance company could later claim that you were not actually injured as claimed but were feeling “fine” mere hours after the accident.
- You could forfeit your right to obtain more compensation: When you accept an insurance company’s settlement offer, part of the agreement is to sign a form that releases the insurance company from further liability. This means that you will not have the right to bring a lawsuit for further compensation when you later realize that your injuries are worse and more costly than you thought.
As you can see, there are numerous risks involved with talking to the insurance agent before talking with a lawyer. The insurance company is not your ally in these situations. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will have a better understanding of what your case is worth, will work with the insurance company on your behalf and will make sure you obtain maximum compensation for all costs and damages you have sustained.