Every year, tens of thousands of people across the region are seriously injured in car accidents. The Virginia Highway Safety Office (VHSO) reports that there were 127,375 crashes in the Commonwealth of 2017—more than 60,000 of which resulted in injuries.
Sadly, even after a serious wreck, insurance companies do not make it easy for injured victims to get the financial support they desperately need to pay their medical bills and provide for their family. Here, Scott Barney of Barney Injury Law, our Virginia Beach auto accident attorney offers four tips for dealing with insurance adjusters after a collision.
Protect Your Rights: Tips for Handling the Insurance Company
Avoid Giving a Recorded Statement
You may receive a phone call from an insurance company representative relatively shortly after a crash. It could be someone from your own insurer, another driver’s insurer, or even from both. You have no obligation to take these calls, to give a statement, or to answer questions about your crash. Under Virginia law, injured car accident victims have the legal right to take some time to recover from the accident and gather their thoughts.
Unfortunately, insurance adjusters want to get you talking about the collision so that they find information that can be used to undermine your legal claim. The best approach is to simply avoid giving a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster without first consulting with an experienced car accident attorney.
Do Not Sign Any Documents Without a Lawyer
You should not sign any documents that you do not fully understand. Following a serious accident, the insurance company may send you a request for a full release of your medical records. As explained by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), your medical records are protected by law. The insurance company does not get automatic access to all of your medical information. While some records will be needed to support a claim, certain medical information can also often remain private. Do not sign this document without seeking professional guidance. In many cases, insurance companies want to dig through plaintiff medical records to try to find something that can be used to deny liability or reduce the value of your settlement offer.
Be Patient in Settlement Negotiations
While insurance companies have a legal duty to operate in good faith, they typically do not lead with their best and final settlement offer. Be patient and let your attorney build a strong case. You deserve full and fair financial compensation for your injuries. Under Virginia law (Code of Virginia § 8.01-243), personal injury claims are governed by a two year statute of limitations. If you act early after a crash, your lawyer will have time to build a winning case.
Work Through a Hampton Roads Car Accident Attorney
The best way to protect your interests is to work with the insurance company through a lawyer. When you hire an attorney, the insurance company is required to deal with your legal representative. A lawyer will be able to investigate your accident, compile all relevant evidence, and deal with the insurance adjusters—making sure that your claim is handled properly and that you are in the best position to maximize your financial recovery.
Schedule Your Free Car Accident Injury Consultation Today
At Barney Injury Law, our Virginia car accident lawyer has the skills, experience, and knowledge to stand up for your rights against the insurance company. If you or your loved one was hurt in a wreck, you need a top-rated lawyer in your corner. To set up a free, completely confidential review of your case, please contact our law firm today. With an office in Virginia Beach, we represent injured victims throughout Hampton Roads.