Distracted drivers are a major problem on our roadways. With the increased use of handheld devices by motorists, the chances of being involved in car collision have never been greater. Daily, our firm sees victims injured due to the carelessness of another driver. The notion that the careless driver’s insurance company will take care of you is absurd. Insurance companies are in business to make profits by paying out less on claims than they take in on premiums.
If you are involved in a serious car collision, here are some tips to avoid common pitfalls as you navigate through the claim process in the insurance world:
Document, Document, Document
Do not rely on the investigating police officer to properly document the incident scene. Most officers are over-worked and sometimes in a hurry to clear traffic. Be certain that you tell the officer exactly what happened and what specifically the other driver did wrong. A police report that places any blame on you can make an insurance recovery nearly impossible. If possible, make your own photographs and diagrams of the scene and cars, keep a detailed journal throughout your recovery, and take numerous pictures of any visible injuries.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The biggest mistake that we see clients make is taking the attitude that you will get better and that there is no need to see a doctor. As days pass, the pain gets more intense. We see clients continuing to be stubborn and trying to self-medicate with hot baths and over-the-counter pain relievers. After weeks pass, you can no longer handle the pain and you finally see a physician. The first question from the insurance adjuster will be, “If your client was hurt so bad, why did he wait ten days to go the doctor? We just don’t see this case having much value since your client waited so long to go to the doctor.”
If injured, it is imperative that you seek medical care immediately. You should follow your doctor’s instructions regarding follow-up care, including getting any diagnostic tests that are recommended. Do not give the insurance company a reason to deny your claim; avoid lapses in treatment.
Speak with a Lawyer
If you find yourself in a wreck involving injuries, you should consult with an attorney before you ever talk to the insurance company. An attorney will advise you on the do’s and don’ts of providing a recorded statement, on issues involving property damage, and assist you in gathering all the information needed to present your claim for the best possible resolution. If the insurance company refuses to be fair, a good attorney will help determine the best options for you as your case proceeds through the legal system.
Dealing with insurance companies can be extremely stressful, and to make matters worse, you may have to go through the process while trying to recover from major injuries. These tips will help you maximize your recovery for the harms caused by the at-fault driver.
John W. Sherrod is a Founding Partner of Sherrod & Bernard, P.C., who has represented injury victims and their families in Georgia for more than 30 years. A native of Marietta, Georgia, John graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia in 1984 and graduated from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law at the top of his class in 1987. In addition to his law practice, John is a frequent speaker at trial lawyer functions and an active member of several professional organizations, including the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and Southern Trial Lawyers Association.