Interviewer: Should I accept the insurance company’s settlement?
Dan Hoarfrost: Well, the answer to that is difficult to give until someone talks to me. Talk to an attorney prior to accepting an offer. One never knows whether they’re treating you fairly and one of the primary reasons for retaining the attorney is to make sure that you received what’s reasonable (in the industry, anyway) for various types of injuries.
The other thing that an attorney provides is knowledge as to when to actually to try to settle or whether it’s better to wait to see how an injury plays out.
People may find out later that their injury is more serious than we originally believed, but if they’ve signed off on the release, it’s too late to go back and try to get more. That’s why it’s preferable to at least get some advice from an attorney regarding whether that’s the appropriate time to settle and, if there’s an offer on the table, whether it’s a reasonable one.
Car Accident Protocol
Interviewer: What should someone do after a car accident?
Dan Hoarfrost: Well, the first thing that someone who has just been in an accident should do is exchange information with the other driver. That includes a name and an address, as well as the driver’s license number and the insurance information.
The second thing is to make sure you get the medical attention you need if you feel like you’ve been injured. One thing people should be aware of is their own insurance policy and what’s known as personal injury protection, which is coverage that provides payment for medical treatment. It doesn’t really mean that your insurance rates are going to go up if you take advantage of that coverage.
You should contact your own insurance company, file the appropriate forms (which includes a medical release), and get a doctor’s advice as to what treatment your injuries may require.
Handling Insurance Adjusters
Interviewer: How should I handle insurance claim adjusters?
Dan Hoarfrost: Well, the easy answer as to how to handle insurance claim adjusters is to get an attorney, and then you won’t really have to handle the insurance adjusters. One should always be respectful and courteous and provide truthful information, but at least for the other driver’s coverage, keep in mind that they represent the other side and they’re not representing your best interest. One shouldn’t provide more information than necessary to process the claim.
Documenting Accidents & Injuries
Interviewer: Would it be helpful if I took pictures of my injury?
Dan Hoarfrost: Pictures are always helpful, whether they’re ugly injuries or the damage to the vehicles or any other aspect of the case. Even when a claim is being negotiated, you always have to have in the back of your mind a plan as to how your claim might actually be proven in court. The claim always has to be supported by evidence, especially in this day and age; society has become very graphically- and visually-oriented.
The old saying “pictures are worth a thousand words” is even truer today than it was in the past. It’s always helpful to have pictures if they actually illustrate the injury and the problems you go through as the result of the injury. Yes, pictures are very good.