You are driving home during rush hour and contemplating dinner plans when suddenly, you are sitting there with a deflated airbag, ringing in your ears and you are trying to piece together what just happened. Dozens of thoughts are running through your head as you struggle to remember what to do.
Calling 911 is the easy part. You probably even know to exchange information with the other driver(s) and any witnesses. Hopefully you remember to take some photos or videos of the damage – to you and your car. But what next?
Your insurance agent would urge you to call them immediately. While you should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, be cautious when agreeing to give your personal recorded statement. It is easy to gloss over the “Your call is being recorded for business purposes” statement, but yes, your phone call is being recorded by the company.
Here are five tips from professionals in the claims industry:
- Take your time. There’s no real time frame on giving your recorded statement and it certainly doesn’t need to happen before you are ready. Don’t sign anything or settle until you have a good understanding of the damages and costs of repairs – to you and your vehicle.
- Collect your thoughts. It seems simple enough, right? There will be a lot of pressure to give your side of the story and likely a personal desire to get the whole mess off your plate and onto the adjuster’s. But, keep in mind that while most adjusters are nice people, it is a business and they are doing what’s right for their company. Don’t let your personal statement work against you. Make an outline of what you remember (in chronological order) and then add in the details as they come to you.
- Watch what you say. Don’t admit fault, not even a little bit. Some people may try to trip you up or set you up to contradict yourself. It’s easy to get caught in a trap when you are in pain, disoriented, overwhelmed, or distracted.
- Make your own recording. There are free programs (like Skype), smartphones, and personal recorders that you can use to make your own recording at your convenience in a comfortable location. It will help you remember the details, but we don’t recommend sending it before step five.
- Contact and retain a personal injury lawyer. Overwhelmed? Seek out a professional to help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure you get the best possible outcome for your claim.
Nobody wants to come up short after being injured in an accident, which is why that last tip is a big one. Talking to a personal lawyer does more than protect your ability to obtain maximum compensation; they can help make a tough situation a lot better. When you are already dealing with vehicle repairs, medical appointments, and recovery, why not let somebody help you with the legalities and technicalities? Whatever you decide, remember to take your time, focus on the facts, and think before taking any action.