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Car Accidents 101: Hiring a Lawyer vs. Filing an Insurance Claim Yourself

Mar 03, 2020 Car Accidents    Personal Injury

Getting into a car wreck is scary and aggravating. Whether you’re a little banged up, or paramedics whisk you away to the emergency room, you have to figure out what to do next. Do you call an attorney or deal with the insurance company yourself?

Filing an insurance claim for a crash that only involves property damage isn’t too complicated. Insurers are good about getting vehicles repaired or replaced. But if you were seriously injured, we recommend calling a lawyer as soon as possible. This is often the best way to deal with the insurance company’s red tape, so you receive a fair settlement.

If you are injured in Ohio, you can reach the experienced and aggressive team at Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW to schedule a free, no-risk initial consultation.

Give Your Insurance Notice ASAP

Auto insurance policies require you to tell the insurer when you’re involved in a crash regardless of who was at fault. Not giving your insurance company notice makes it harder to use your policy or your insurer as a way to communicate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

But what is enough notice and when do you have to give it?

Notice is telling the insurance company that you were in a crash and suffered property damage and injuries—even if you don’t know the extent yet. Most companies give you the options of calling, sending an email/electronic message, or using an app.

Insurance policies don’t give a specific timeframe for how long you have to give notice. The policy might say something about informing the company in a reasonable amount of time. We recommend you report the crash to your insurer as soon as you can.

You Don’t Have to Answer Questions or Give a Statement

It’s important to provide your insurance company the basics: who, what, when, and where. But you don’t have to go any further and answer questions on your own.

Also, soon after the crash, an insurance employee might reach out for a statement. The insurer will have a lot of questions about who was at fault. You should prepare to answer truthfully, but in a way that doesn’t make you look bad.

We recommend politely declining to answer questions or give a statement until you’ve talked with a lawyer.

A Lawyer Prepares You to Answer Questions

The insurance company records everything you say, and they can use it during the claim. If you admit fault, or the insurer can construe a statement as admitting some amount of responsibility, then it might deny your claim or limit your payout.

You don’t want to get into a discussion of fault before you know more about what happened and why. By talking with a lawyer first, you prepare to give the insurance company all the information it needs without saying something you shouldn’t.

A Lawyer Helps You Avoid Common Missteps

There are several common mistakes injury victims make when they handle insurance claims themselves:

  • Not questioning an insurer’s conclusions: An insurance company will investigate a crash and draw conclusions. They aren’t always right. By working with an attorney, you have someone performing an independent investigation, which might lead to different information. We’ll be able to challenge the insurer on information and conclusions we believe are incorrect.
  • Not choosing the best body shop for the job: Many drivers are under the impression they have to use the vehicle repair shop chosen by the insurance company or one off a list provided by the insurer. This isn’t true. You have the right to choose a reputable repair shop you trust.
  • Not fighting for the best value for your vehicle: If you need to receive an insurance payout to replace your car, then how much your vehicle’s worth matters a lot. You need the insurance company to give you the best value possible. But many drivers make the mistake of not fighting back when they think the insurer’s valuation is too low.
  • Accepting the first settlement offer: You’re probably eager to receive a check after a collision. But be wary of a quick settlement offer. Too many people cash a check without realizing they can’t go back for more. You should never accept a settlement offer until you’re fully aware of the cost of repairing or replacing your car, your medical expenses, and your lost wages.
  • Not knowing your future medical expenses: You need to have a thorough understanding of your current and future medical bills before accepting a settlement offer. In many cases, you need to wait for months to reach your maximum recovery before you can predict what your future medical needs and costs will be.
  • Not recognizing signs of bad faith: Your insurer is required to uphold the policy you pay for and treat you fairly. Unfortunately, sometimes insurers don’t uphold the contract or the law. But without experience in the insurance claims process, you might not recognize signs of bad faith—a lawyer will. We recognize when an insurer is delaying your claim, not investigating it properly, or trying to use another tactic to wrongfully deny you.
  • Thinking the insurer is on your side: When you’re dealing with your or the other driver’s insurance company, it’s easy to believe that they’re there to help. Insurers have a job to do, which is to uphold their policies. But insurers aren’t looking out for your best interest. They want to turn a profit, which means they’ll deny a claim or limit a payout whenever they can. Hiring a lawyer is gaining an advocate who puts your needs first.

Call KNR for Help Filing an Insurance Claim

When an experienced car accident attorney handles the process, you avoid making common mistakes that can lead the insurer to deny your claim or significantly decrease your settlement. Typically, a lawyer increases your chance of the insurer deciding the claim in your favor. Our team also can help you maximize the amount of the settlement.

To talk about the benefits of partnering with a lawyer during the insurance claim process, use our contact form or call Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW.

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