You are probably reading this because you have recently been involved in a traffic accident. You are not alone – in 2021, there were 282,640 motor vehicle accidents in Michigan, an increase of 15% over the previous year.
You may be shaken, upset, and injured, possibly seriously. You may not even know the full extent of your injuries yet. This is precisely the time when your insurance agent or an insurance adjuster will call you to ask for all of the details about your car accident. And it is exactly the time when you should protect yourself and be very careful with what you say.
You need to call your insurance company as soon as possible after you have been involved in a crash. There are several pieces of information you need to provide at this time. However, there are even more things that you should make sure NOT to say to your insurance agent after a car accident in Michigan. We will list them and explain why below.
- Be careful about admitting fault. After the accident, be careful about what you say. If you absolutely caused the accident, that’s one thing. But if you did not, don’t’ even say “I’m sorry”. You may simply be expressing sympathy for the other driver. After all, people make mistakes and that person is also suffering. However, your kindness and concern for others can easily be misconstrued as an admission of guilt.
- Don’t give unnecessary details. The insurance adjuster will commiserate with you and appear friendly, but he or she has a very different objective than you do. You want to make sure that your bills will be paid and that you won’t suffer financially from the crash and its after effects. The insurance company employees are tasked with settling your case as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Answer the questions you are asked truthfully, but succinctly.
- Don’t tell the adjuster that you don’t have a lawyer. If you have a lawyer, don’t tell the adjuster you don’t. This makes you seem vulnerable, and you may receive a lowball settlement offer as a result. If you have a car accident attorney on your side, the insurance company is more likely to take you seriously. In fact, one study showed that 51% of people without a lawyer received a settlement, but 91% of people with a lawyer received a payout. That’s a considerable difference. And having a Michigan car accident attorney isn’t merely a perceived advantage, it’s a practical advantage. Your lawyer can handle communication with all insurance companies so that you can focus on recovering from your accident.
- Resist the urge to be overly helpful by giving the agent or adjuster information about any friends or family members. You need to give contact information for people who were in the vehicle with you, but that’s it. There is a reason for this. If the case is prolonged and the insurance company is trying to prove that your injuries are not as severe as you say they are, they could contact people you spoke to after the accident to exploit any inconsistencies in your story, even completely innocent ones.
- Don’t say that you are fine. Maybe you aren’t used to complaining or sharing your discomfort. Maybe you have been brought up to minimize pain. Maybe it is simply a habit for you to reply to the greeting, “How are you?” with the socially acceptable rejoinder, “I’m fine” – but don’t do it! You are clearly not fine. If you are in pain, you can say so. Even if you aren’t actively in pain, you don’t know if you are fine yet. Many injuries don’t show up until days, weeks, or even months after the initial accident, so wait until you have been thoroughly checked out by a medical professional. Even then, consult with your attorney. Never sign a medical release form without your attorney’s counsel.
- Don’t accept any settlements before speaking to your attorney. As we explained in #2, the insurance company is always going to operate with the bottom line in mind. They want to pay as little as possible as quickly as possible.
- Don’t diagnose yourself. You may have a sore neck, and you may have Googled “whiplash” online to find that it is the most common injury in motor vehicle crashes, “affecting 83% of patients involved in collisions,” but that doesn’t mean that you have it. Even if you end up being diagnosed with other more serious injuries, the fact that you said you had whiplash and didn’t can be used to suggest that you are not credible. Don’t take any chances. Stick to the facts.
These tips seem like a lot to remember, but the experienced Michigan car accident lawyers at Lee Steinberg Law Firm can take that stress away from you by advising you every step along your journey.
Please call Lee Steinberg at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form.
And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your case.