Auto accidents are extremely stressful for all involved in them. If you have been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle accident in Maryland, you will face numerous questions and concerns. The ordeal starts at the accident scene and may drag on for many more months.
After dealing with the emergency services and helping a police officer make a statement, the issue of how to tackle the other side’s insurance company becomes a pressing one.
Even drivers who are blameless for accidents hate talking to the other driver’s insurance company. The big insurance companies are notorious for twisting the truth to benefit their policyholders.
In Maryland, if you are even one percent to blame for a car accident, you may not be able to make a recovery for your injuries. The insurance companies know this. The adjuster might seek to trick you into admitting some blame for an accident that was not your fault.
It’s very important not to talk to the other driver’s insurance company without doing your homework first. Limit your dealings with the other side’s insurance company to the bare minimum. If you hire an experienced Baltimore car accident injury lawyer, the attorney will deal with the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf, saving you from potential pitfalls.
Here are some useful tips for dealing with the other driver’s insurance company
Tip #1 Don’t Rush To Settle Your Case
One of the most serious mistakes many injured motorists make is to rush to settle their case. It’s understandable to want to get the case sorted out and to get a payout soon to get on with your life, but rushing to settle your claim with the other side’s insurance company is usually a mistake.
Big insurance companies like GEICO make massive profits on the backs of claimants who settle their cases too quickly for less than they are worth.
Typically, the first offer made by the other side’s insurance company is a lowball offer. It’s unwise to talk figures before you know the true extent of your injuries. You could settle a case believing you have whiplash without realizing you suffered a mild traumatic brain injury. On occasions, doctors miss complications from auto accidents. You should not accept an offer until your medical costs are known.
In Maryland, injured parties have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code section 5-101 states that a civil lawsuit for personal injury “shall be filed within three years from the date it accrues.”
Maryland’s statute of limitations gives car accident victims longer to make a claim than is the case in many states. While we do not recommend waiting until three years has almost elapsed, it’s risky to rush to accept a premature offer.
Tip #2 Document Your Injuries and Research Available Coverage
The insurance adjuster may seek to downplay or minimize your injuries. He or she will also look for gaps in medical treatment and delays in seeking treatment. From the time of your accident, it is important to make notes about your injuries and to take pictures. Keep all medical records and bills. Document medical visits.
Before dealing with the insurance company, gather all your medical information. This may include write-ups from doctors, x-rays, treatment schedules and any bills incurred to date. The insurance company may request an overview of your injuries or an estimate of your medical costs.
Be meticulous in your dealings with the other driver’s insurance company. If you are unsure of the answer to a question, do not guess. Tell the adjuster you will get back to the insurance company when you have researched the correct answer.
It’s important to know available insurance coverage. Most insurance adjusters won’t even respond to settlement demands that exceed the available insurance. Regardless of how much you believe your claim is worth, if you want the adjuster to make an offer, you should not make a demand that is more than the policy limits.
You should not assume all drivers have the same levels of coverage. While some may have the bare minimum, commercial vehicles usually have considerably higher levels of insurance coverage.
All vehicles in Maryland must be insured. The minimum coverage for bodily injury is $30,000, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation.
Tip #3 Notify The Other Party’s Insurance Company of Your Damage and Injuries
You should restrict your dealings with the other side’s insurance company as much as possible to avoid incriminating yourself. In theory, you should only have to notify the other party’s insurer of your injuries and the damage to your car, take your car to a body shop, visit a doctor and expect the insurer of the at-fault driver to cover your bills.
However, car insurance companies may demand that you obtain their authorization before proceeding with vehicle repairs and injury treatments. You should never delay important medical treatment because you are waiting for a decision from an insurance adjuster.
However, you should find out if an insurance company has accepted liability before making costly car repairs if possible. Get authorizations in writing rather than relying on an oral statement. Get the insurance company to email it to you.
Tip #4 Don’t Give a Recorded Statement When Dealing With The Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Often the other driver’s insurance company will try to get you to give a recorded statement. There is no obligation to do this and you should refuse.
While your own insurance policy typically requires you to cooperate with your insurance company if you make a claim for benefits, you are not required to talk to the other driver’s insurance company claims adjuster, let alone to give a recorded statement.
Often, the other side’s claims adjuster will seek to get you to provide a statement by proposing to make an offer to settle your claim. This is often a trick because the adjusters true objective is to obtain information from you that could minimize your claim or defeat it altogether.
Many people are unaware of the underhand tactics that insurance adjusters use. They may be open and honest and unaware that the information they provide will be used against them
The claims adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company will typically contact you for a statement shortly after the accident. You may still be in a state of shock and be unaware of the full extent of your injuries. This is seldom a good time to talk to the other side’s insurance company. It makes sense to politely decline an adjuster’s request to provide a statement. Never give a recorded statement. There is no obligation to do so.
Tip #5 Don’t Demand Too Much Money or Too Little
You should be realistic about how much money you want out of an auto accident with injuries in Maryland. If you demand too little from an insurance company, you may lose out and not have enough money to cover your ongoing medical bills and your future cost of living,
The consequences of asking for too much in your demand letter are less obvious but there are dangers inherent in being unrealistic in your expectations. If you are asking for $1 million for a soft tissue injury, the other side’s insurance company will quickly realize you have no idea of the value of your car accident case and will seek to exploit you.
Although there is no calculator related to car accident injury damages, personal injury attorneys have a good idea of how much a given case is worth.
Tip #6 Don’t Settle for a ‘Final Offer’ From the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
The other driver’s insurance company will often tell you they are making a ‘final offer.’ This is intended to panic you into settling the case. Often litigating a case will lead to an improvement on that offer, particularly if you hire a personal injury lawyer to fight on your behalf.
The insurance company will not always tell you directly they are making a final offer. It may be couched in language that leaves you in no doubt you won’t be able to get more money.
Injured drivers or passengers who are representing themselves have less leverage than those who hire a personal injury lawyer because the insurance company is aware they are unlikely to sue without legal counsel.
The insurance adjusters are aware many car accident victims eagerly take the first offer as a final offer and leave money on the table. A study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), found auto accident claim payouts were 40 percent higher for claimants who were represented by a lawyer. The Insurance Research Council found increasing numbers of car accident victims are hiring an attorney.
Tip #7 Talk to An Attorney if You Suffered a Serious Injury
The decision of whether to hire a lawyer is an important one in any car accident case involving injuries or a death. If you suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one due to the fault of another driver, you should discuss your case with a lawyer.
Attorneys offer free initial consultations to potential clients and do not bill them until a case is settled in their favor. If your accident only involved property damage and there is no dispute about liability, you may not need to talk to an attorney. In the following circumstances, it is prudent to seek a consultation with a lawyer.
- You suffered broken bones, stayed in a hospital as a result of your injuries and face long-term health consequences;
- You suffered a brain injury or a serious injury like damage to your spine;
- Your medical treatment exceeded $2,000;
- Several family members were injured;
- A family member was killed in a crash;
- The accident led you to miss more than a day or two of work or school;
- There is a dispute about who was to blame;
- The insurance companies are giving you a hard time.
Taking on a Maryland Injury Lawyer to Deal With The Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Hiring an injury lawyer means the attorney handles all of the dealings with the other driver’s insurance company. It gives you peace of mind and allows you to concentrate on recovering from your injuries.
Personal injury lawyers do not take on all motor vehicle accident cases. The attorney will quickly gain an idea of the strength of your case in an initial meeting and advise you on how to proceed.
Dealing with the insurance companies alone can be a nightmare and there are many traps you can fall into that will harm your case. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our experienced lawyers can help you with every step of the process. Call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice today to schedule a free appointment to discuss your case at (410) 694-7291.