If you’ve recently been injured in a car accident in South Carolina it is important to be aware that your best interests may not align with your insurance company’s objectives. For example, if the driver who caused your car crash (i.e. the at-fault driver) does not have driver’s liability insurance then you may be able to recover from your own insurance provider if you have uninsured motorist coverage. In this hypothetical situation your objective is to receive a favorable financial settlement from your insurance provider while, on the other had, your insurance provider is incentivised to pay you as little as possible. Because your insurance provider may not be on your side after a car accident, consider asking the following questions in order to help protect your legal rights:
- Can you please send me a copy of my insurance policy? After a car accident it is very important that you know exactly what is covered under your insurance policy. This information is laid out on the declaration page(s) of your contract, so if you do not already have a copy of your policy be sure to request one and to review it carefully.
- What information do you need from me? When dealing with an insurance company it is important to provide them with accurate information so that they can do their job and to help ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. When speaking with your insurance agent have a pen ready so that you can jot down notes from your conversation and make a list of the documents and information that they request from you. Organization is key as the insurance company will likely ask you for a lot of information/evidence including:
- Any photos or videos that you have depicting the scene of the accident,
- Any information that you have about the other driver (for example, their name, contact information, license plate number, insurance information, and the year, model, and make of their vehicle),
- The name and contact information of any people who witnessed the accident, and
- A statement from you describing the car accident in detail.
- Is this conversation being recorded? Insurance companies will often ask drivers who have been involved in an accident to give a recorded statement. However, if you have been in a serious accident and have retained an attorney, or are considering hiring an attorney, do not give your statement without first consulting with your lawyer. Insurance companies are in the habit of recording phone calls so that they can replay the tape later on with the aim of reducing the amount that they will be required to pay. Therefore, it is generally a good idea to ask whether or not your conversation is being recorded in order to avoid inadvertently giving a recorded statement until you have had time to consult with an attorney.
What Not to Say to Your Insurance Company After a Car Accident
While it is important to ask your insurance company the questions listed above, it is equally important to know what not to say to your insurance company after a car accident. Ultimately, conversations with your insurance provider should be strategic and that you should avoid saying:
- Anything right after the accident. Refrain from contacting your insurance company directly after an accident while you are still in shock.
- The accident was my fault. Be honest with your insurance company and accurately describe what happened, but be careful not to express personal opinions about who was legally at fault.
- I’m not hurt. Sometimes injuries take a while to manifest, so be careful not to tell your insurance provider that you weren’t injured in an accident as this may turn out not to be true.
- This is my official statement. Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to give an official statement to an insurance agent until a qualified attorney recommends that you do so.
- I accept. It is often not in your best interest to accept an insurance company’s initial settlement offer, so consider consulting with a car accident attorney before saying I accept.
Need Legal Advice?
At the Joye Law Firm, we understand that our clients who have been injured in car accidents need to spend the bulk of their energy recovering, not on protecting their legal rights. Let us fight for the compensation that you deserve, interface with insurance companies who are trying to minimize your recovery, and safeguard your legal rights. Our experienced car accident attorneys are located throughout South Carolina, but if you are not able to come to us we will come to you. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call our injury hotline today at (877) 936-9707.