The average person will find themselves involved in a car accident every 18 years. With car accidents occurring so relatively infrequently in one’s own life, maximizing compensation for your car accident claim typically isn’t at the forefront of a person’s mind, and understandably so. Unfortunately, this can lead to mistakes that can significantly impact the size of their car accident claim amount.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 3 of the biggest mistakes people can make when settling a car accident claim. While not a comprehensive list, we hope this is a good start:
1: Giving Recorded Statements to the Insurance Company
Any time you file a car accident claim with an insurance company, you’ll be asked for permission to record your statement. Even if you’re confident that your statement would help your case, these recordings can bolster an insurer’s attempts to minimize your claim. They can take statements out of context and cherry pick things you said to paint the picture that allows them to pay out the least on your claim.
To understand why it’s a bad idea to give a recorded statement, let’s explore the most common mindset of accident victims.
After a wreck, your mind is probably spinning. You may be in a significant amount of pain, or be under the influence of serious pain medication. There’s a decent chance you end up with emotional or psychological issues after the accident. You’re probably eager to put the entire accident behind you so that you can get back to work, finish up the chores on your to-do list and run errands again. In most cases, you’re just hoping to return to the status quo.
The insurance company will bank on this mindset and use your recorded statement to leverage a smaller settlement. Even the savviest person can find their words twisted by the insurer. While some recorded statements may be required, it’s important to talk to an attorney about your strategy first. If you’re handling your car accident settlement on your own, simply say “no thanks” when asked for a recorded statement.
2: Demanding Too Much Money
When you’re involved in a car accident, it’s tempting to ask for the largest possible auto accident settlement. While negotiations should start higher than where you hope to land, demanding too large a settlement upfront can send the wrong message. It’s important to start with a realistic figure, otherwise, the insurance company may believe you’re uninformed about the facts and laws surrounding your case. In certain states, car accident settlements are capped at a specific amount. Ask for more than that, and you risk the insurance company recognizing your ignorance of the factors in play.
Obviously, it’s also a bad idea to ask for too small a settlement. Though less common, some accident victims are so eager to put the situation behind them that they demand significantly less money than the case is worth. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you understand how much your damages total and give you a good idea of what to ask for in the demand letter. Online tools like car accident settlement calculators can also help you understand the value of your claim.
3. Posting About Your Car Accident Social Media
In the smartphone era, we post just about everything on social media. From the avocado toast we eat for breakfast to the cozy bedtime routine we document before heading to sleep, our entire lives are on display online. While you might be tempted to update your followers on your involvement in an accident, it’s important to avoid posting about your crash. Even with your profiles set to private, insurance companies have a way of digging into a person’s online persona and finding photos, videos, comments and screenshots to refute a victim’s claims.
For example, if you update your Facebook page with news of your accident, polite comments made by friends and loved ones may come back to haunt you. Your aunt may chime in asking if you were hurt, or your college roommate may tease you about your history of driving over the speed limit. Though seemingly innocuous, these kinds of posts can do serious damage to your credibility.
Some lawyers advise their clients to avoid social media altogether while they’re in the process of settling a car accident claim. If you’re asking for money to cover the cost of medical expenses, for instance, a photo of you walking around a theme park or taking a ski vacation could be used to argue that you’re not as injured as you claim. Even if it’s not immediately clear how a post could be used against you, it’s just not worth the risk.
It’s usually worth speaking to an attorney before settling your car accident claim.
Car accident lawyers have years of experience negotiating with insurance companies. With just a few key pieces of information, they can quickly judge whether or not you’re getting a fair offer. Considering that many lawyers work on contingency and offer free initial consultations, it is worth talking to someone with such deep knowledge of the industry. More than just ensuring your settlement is fair, an attorney can help point out blind spots in your auto accident claim that you may have overlooked. It’s hard to know what you don’t know, so enlisting an experienced second set of eyes to ensure you’re not being taken advantage of by the insurance company is never a bad idea.