In most car accidents, there are four primary parties: you, your insurance company, the other driver, and their insurance company. Following the accident, you should talk to a personal injury lawyer before you discuss anything with any other party.
You may believe that you are only disclosing the facts of the case, but you could be opening yourself up to a very costly lawsuit.
An experienced personal injury attorney can examine the facts of the case and guide you to the best possible outcome. They can alert you to any potential red flags that could lower your payout or increase your liability. A lawyer is much more experienced in these kinds of situations and is the only party fully committed to serving your interests.
Here’s our team at Gilbert Law Firm’s take on talking to insurance companies after an accident.
Why You Shouldn’t Blindly Trust Your Insurance Company
Like most people, you may assume that because you pay your insurer a considerable premium every month that they are on your side. While that may be true in many circumstances, it may not be true following a vehicle accident.
In the state of Washington, the doctrine of comparative negligence governs the recovery of damages following an accident. This term means that the parties involved may only be partially responsible for the accident, and that percentage of fault determines how much of the damages they must pay.
For example, if you are awarded a $100,000 judgment and the other party is found 100 percent at fault, then you would receive $100,000. However, if they are judged to be only 60 percent at fault—and therefore, you are 40 percent at fault—then you would only get $60,000.
Your insurance company may decide that you are partially or fully at fault, based on what you say to them. Not only will this likely raise your premiums or terminate your policy, but it could convince your insurer not to press the other parties in a settlement negotiation.
Finally, you should know that anything you may say to your insurance company isn’t confidential. They may repeat it to the other insurers or lawyers, making it more difficult to support your position of no-fault. That is why you should seek legal advice prior to talking to your insurer.
Be Very Careful Talking to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
If you should be cautious in what you say to your own insurer, you should be doubly so in talking to the other driver’s insurance company. In fact, it is best not to talk to the other driver’s insurance company at all; you are under no obligation to talk to them.
It is considerably safer to let your insurance company or your personal injury attorney handle such discussions. The other driver’s insurance company may try to twist your words to make you seem more at fault than you actually are.
They may also try to pressure you into talking without an attorney present or record a conversation; if so, politely refuse.
The only time you may want to talk to the other driver’s insurance company is when the other driver has already admitted fault or been deemed at-fault. Even then, however, it is wise to let your attorney do your talking for you.
Trust the Gilbert Law Firm to Manage Your Car Accident Case
With hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and judgments for their car accident clients, the Gilbert Law Firm has been a leader in the Washington legal community for decades. To learn how the Gilbert Law Firm can help you, contact us today.