Should I Talk To The Driver’s Insurance Company Directly Before I Hire An Attorney?

The short answer to the first part of that question is “No!” 

Insurance companies in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia (and everywhere else, for that matter) spend millions of dollars to make their agency appear friendly and that their only goal is to help. This is true, but the ones they want to help are their shareholders, not you. They are in business to make money, but not for you.

Before you sign anything—before you even talk to an insurance representative—you need to know your legal rights and how to protect yourself. A personal injury lawyer can handle communications with the insurance company for you, to be sure that your interests are protected.  However, if you’re not ready to hire an attorney just yet, here are three things to keep in mind to protect yourself.

Don’t Accept Any Settlement Offer Right Away

Insurance adjusters often will try to get you to accept a settlement offer soon after the accident. You might still be in shock, in pain, worried about your job and your family’s finances. The adjusters know this and will try to take advantage of your predicament. They might tell you, or imply, that this wonderful offer they are making you is only on the table for a short period of time. They will try every trick in the book to pay you as little as possible. And they want you to accept quickly, before you have a chance to consult an attorney.

To you, it might seem like a good, or at least an acceptable, offer. You’re out of work, maybe in pain, and the bills are due. Now you have medical bills on top of everything else. So you take the money and sign on the dotted line. Be aware –  that will be all they will give you. It is not a down payment; you can’t come back and ask for more later if you find that you need additional medical care or can’t return to your regular job. So, the insurance company pays you $10,000, which does seem like a good deal of money when you’re staring debt in the face. But, as time goes by, your medical bills grow and you find you now owe $100,000. You will be stuck with the balance.

Find out what your claim is worth before you accept a settlement. You need to know about the care you might need in the future and how your injuries will impact your future earning capacity, at the very least.

Be Careful What You Say

If the insurance company can trick you into saying something that makes it sound like an admission that you were at fault for causing your injuries, they might find a way to pay nothing. Keep this in mind: Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia are contributory negligence jurisdictions. This means that if a court finds your actions contributed to your accident, you cannot receive an award at all.

Consulting a skilled, knowledgeable personal injury attorney can protect you from making any damaging statements and help you discover what your claim is really worth.

Be Careful What You Sign

As we noted above, don’t sign anything until you consult an attorney. Remember, their offer is not a downpayment. The insurance company knows you are vulnerable after an accident, and it won’t hesitate to take advantage of this. 

An experienced personal injury attorney can assess what your case is really worth, taking into account all aspects of your situation, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and future needs. Also, the attorney often can negotiate with your creditors to arrange for additional time to make payments.

We Are Here To Help

Don’t fall prey to the insurance company. The experienced team at Jennifer Porter Law, PLLC, is ready to assist. If you suffered injuries in Virginia, D.C., or Maryland, we can help you find the resources you need and work to recover damages to compensate you and enable you to rebuild your life. For a free consultation, contact Jennifer Porter Law, PLLC at (571) 532-9070.