After any motor vehicle accident, it’s reasonable to expect that the responsible party’s insurance provider will be in touch. The question that many people have is how to handle those contacts in the most practical manner. Since the contact may occur in more than one way, it pays to have your strategy outlined in full. Here are some points to keep in mind.
Contact by Phone
There may be a call from the provider a few days after the accident. This is typically more than an attempt to verify the events related to the accident. The provider has a vested interest in shifting at least part of the responsibility for the accident to you. If possible, the goal is to ask leading questions that can be interpreted as guilt on your part. Doing so would mean the insurance provider can reject the claim in full and cite your own statements as proof their client is not at fault.
Many providers ask for permission to record the call. Others will have a third party on the line who is taking notes. Your best bet is to not respond to any questions over the phone. Instead, inform the provider that you are engaging the services of a lawyer and all questions can be directed to your legal counsel once the case is taken.
If you have already hired a lawyer, the only thing you should do is provide the insurance company with the name and contact information for your legal counsel. Request that all telephone conversations and other communications be directed to your lawyer. If there is a need to speak with you directly, that can be arranged through your legal counsel. Make it clear that any meetings, or communications by phone will only take place with your lawyer present.
Showing Up At Your Door
Whether you are at home or in the hospital recuperating, there are some providers who will send representatives to your location. This is an attempt to force a meeting and discussion before you are ready to talk about the accident. It’s not unusual for the representative to already have a check prepared to present to you. The process often includes making hints that the provider is doing you a favor and rejecting the check will result in no compensation at all.
If this should occur, keep calm. Inform the representative that he or she is welcome to leave a business card. You will ensure that it gets to your lawyer and that the legal counsel will be in touch. Throughout the conversation, refrain from making any statements about the accident, the responsible party, or the extent of your injuries or damage to your vehicle. Do not in any way indicate you are considering accepting the check. You must also not sign any type of document, even if the representative tells you it’s a routine action.
Some insurance companies will send forms through the mail rather than making a phone call. The mailing may include a claim form that must be filled out and returned. There may also be a cover letter requesting a face to face meeting.
If you feel that you must reply personally, respond with a short letter providing the contact information for your lawyer. Note that the dates and times for any meetings can be arranged through your legal counsel. Make it clear you will not discuss the accident or any related matter without your lawyer present.
If you receive the mailing before hiring a lawyer, refrain from responding until you do have legal counsel. Once the lawyer accepts your case, turn over all correspondence that you’ve received to your counsel. The two of you can discuss convenient dates to meet with representatives from the insurance provider and then the lawyer can work with them to schedule the meeting.
The bottom line is that you say nothing, agree to nothing, and sign nothing without consulting your lawyer first. Most insurance representatives will accept this and wait to hear from your legal counsel. If more calls, mailings, or visits are attempted, let your lawyer know immediately. There are ways to ensure all contacts are routed through your legal counsel only and that you can recover from the accident in peace.
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