After a vehicle crash here in the state of Florida, it is important to know how to deal with an auto insurance company. You are about to learn some important tips and strategies for negotiating with insurance companies and insurance adjusters.

If you’re in an accident caused by a driver who was negligent, you’re required to call your automobile insurance company to inform the company that you have been involved in a crash, but do not make any formal statement, admit or confess anything, or answer any questions.

Instead, obtain legal help immediately. If you’ve been injured, let a trustworthy and experienced Stuart personal injury attorney represent you and negotiate a settlement that you can accept.

Your health is that important. Seek an accident attorney’s help immediately if a careless driver injures you, and then adhere to that attorney’s recommendations and advice.

WHAT IF YOU WEREN’T INJURED BUT YOUR VEHICLE WAS DAMAGED?

If you are not injured in an accident, but your vehicle was damaged, you may choose to negotiate with the auto insurance company without an attorney’s help.

If that’s your choice, the do’s and don’ts listed below should help you during the claims procedure and negotiation. You might even want a hard copy of this page to keep in your vehicle if an accident occurs.

If you file a damage claim after a collision, a claims adjuster will probably contact you. It is important to understand what you should do and what you should not do.

Being ready and knowing precisely how to respond if an accident occurs – and how to respond afterward – can be the key to obtaining sufficient reimbursement for the damages to your vehicle.

AFTER A VEHICLE CRASH, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

1. Contact your insurance company immediately, but as explained previously, do not make any formal statement at that time.

2. Examine your auto insurance policy before you speak about the accident with an insurance adjuster. Understand the policy’s “exclusion” and “coverage” sections.

3. Take notes regarding any conversation you have with an insurance adjuster; indicate the names, times, dates, phone numbers, job titles, and details discussed in any conversation.

4. You also need to determine if there is property damage coverage under any of your other policies: a homeowner’s or umbrella policy. Some drivers may have coverage through their banks or credit card companies.

5. Take photographs at the accident scene or ask someone to take photographs for you. Capture the vehicle damage and license plates, the general accident scene, and your own injuries that are visible.

6. Call the police. Make certain to find out how to obtain a hard copy of their accident report once it becomes available.

7. Try getting the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses. Your lawyer may need testimony or statements from them later.

8. What’s next is imperative: Have a doctor or another healthcare provider examine you within no more than 24 hours to ensure that you sustained no difficult-to-detect injuries and no latent injuries.

9. Remain calm and reasonable when you talk with an adjuster. Do not let yourself become frustrated with the claims process or when dealing with the adjuster’s tactics.

10. Be honest with the adjuster. Do not exaggerate or speculate regarding what occurred. If you do not know the answer to a question the adjuster asks you, say so. If you aren’t truthful, your own policy could be voided.

11. Make and keep copies of all receipts related to the collision. If you purchase gas to drive to an insurance company office to meet the adjuster, get your receipt.

AFTER A VEHICLE CRASH, WHAT SHOULD YOU NOT DO?

1. Do not make any recorded or written statement unless you’re certain that you know the details of your auto insurance policy and that you are not liable for the accident.

2. Do not automatically accept the first settlement offer. It is almost always inadequate.

3. Do not miss any deadlines set by your auto insurance policy. And do not accept unnecessary delays or excuses from the insurance company.

4. Do not forget that legally speaking, your auto insurance policy is a contract. The company must offer you the coverage specified in your policy. Be polite with an insurance adjuster, but also be firm.

5. Finally, if you were injured in the accident – this is critical – do not sign any documents from the insurance company before you obtain the advice of legal counsel. You could sign away important rights.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF THE COMPANY ACTS IN BAD FAITH?

If an acceptable settlement is not offered to you after a reasonable length of time, what can you do? What if the company presents you with nothing but delays, excuses, and disrespect?

If that happens, you may have an insurance bad faith claim. Seek advice from a personal injury attorney if the insurance company seems to be avoiding its responsibility to you.

Most motorists have no trouble dealing with insurance companies regarding vehicle damage. In fact, most insurance professionals in Florida really do put their customers first.

Negotiations for damage claims usually take three or maybe four telephone conversations and one or maybe two face-to-face discussions with the insurance adjuster.

WHAT EVIDENCE WILL YOU NEED TO SUPPORT YOUR DAMAGE CLAIM?

How can you prove that the amount you are claiming is appropriate?

You’ll need to present receipts for repairs and improvements to the vehicle, before-and-after photos if you have them and estimates from qualified appraisers including certified mechanics.

When you have the facts – and the documents that prove those facts –you have a much better chance of obtaining the settlement amount you need.

Finally, don’t be intimidated. It is your right to negotiate your settlement with the auto insurance company. If you are offered a quick settlement that is not what you genuinely need, should you accept it?

Personal injury attorney Jordan R. Wagner says, “Don’t! You should call a lawyer. Adjusters try and take advantage of those without lawyers and try to get them to agree to ‘quick money’ and forego many of their rights.”

HOW CAN AN ACCIDENT ATTORNEY HELP YOU?

If you are injured in a traffic collision in Florida, and when your future and your health may be on the line, you will absolutely need the advice and representation that an injury attorney will provide.

Most accident attorneys in Florida offer a free first consultation to accident victims, so it will not cost you anything to find out more. A qualified accident attorney will provide reliable advice and will fully explain your legal rights and options.

If a negligent driver has injured you and/or damaged your vehicle, you are entitled by law to compensation. That is your right. If you’ve been injured, get legal help. That is also your right.