After a car accident in Georgia, you might need help from your own insurance company to pay for your damages depending on the circumstances. Even if the other driver is at fault for your accident, there may be benefits through your own insurance policy related to the accident.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to get the insurance company involved if you hire a car accident lawyer. However, if this is unavoidable, our lawyers recommend exercising caution with the insurance company, so you don’t compromise your claim. In addition, when you report the accident to your insurance company, you should be careful about what you say.
The Law Entitles You to File a Claim
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-1-6 gives you the right to file a claim for financial compensation as a car accident victim. This means that if another negligent driver or party caused you to sustain injuries and damages from a car accident, you can hold them liable for what happened and win a settlement at their expense.
Furthermore, under OCGA §51-12-33, Georgia operates under a modified comparative negligence rule. This means that preserving the integrity and strength of your claim is extremely important, as you still have to prove that you weren’t responsible and provide evidence when negotiating compensation.
The comparative negligence rule is precisely why it’s critical that you don’t speak to the insurance company early or, at the very least, watch what you say. Anything you say, do, or write to them will get recorded and possibly used against you. So don’t put your settlement in jeopardy by saying the wrong things.
to find a John Foy office near you
Six Things to Avoid Saying to Your Georgia Insurance Company After an Accident
Insurance companies do not like paying out claims for auto accidents. Unfortunately, even your own insurance company will look for ways to reduce their costs. They may use something you say against you later.
If you feel stressed or discombobulated after the accident, wait until you are calmer and clearer-headed before contacting your insurance company about the accident. Then, to protect your legal rights, when you do contact your insurer to report the accident, what you say to them about it should be cautious and strategic. That means not saying the following.
1. “It Was My Fault”
Do not straight up admit fault after a car accident, even if you feel you might have played a part. While this might feel disingenuous, it’s actually the best thing you can do to protect yourself. In addition, there may be extenuating circumstances you don’t yet know about, such as faulty vehicle parts or the fact that the other driver was texting and driving.
Of course, don’t lie, but don’t offer additional details before you have all the facts. Give the details of the accident without any personal opinions or discussion of fault. The insurance companies are responsible for determining fault.
Even if you were partially at fault, the other driver may bear some fault too, which means you may still be able to recover for a percentage of your damages. However, if you admit fault out of the gate, you could miss out on this recovery. For this reason, you should also avoid admitting any guilt or apologizing in front of the other driver or police.
2. “I Don’t Have Any Injuries”
Insurance companies are skilled in asking the “right” questions. For example, they might express concern and ask how you are feeling. The polite automatic response for most people to this question is some version of, “I’m fine” or “I feel okay.” But the insurance company can use this simple phrase to claim you weren’t actually hurt in the accident and deny you compensation.
Avoid saying anything definitive about any injuries. Instead, get checked out by a doctor. You could have whiplash, internal bleeding, or something else that you don’t yet know about, and you’ll want to make sure these are covered in your claim. Also, don’t sign any medical release forms from the insurer until you’ve consulted with a car accident attorney.
For a free legal consultation, call 404-400-4000
3. “Sure, I’ll Give a Statement”
The insurance company may ask if you’ll give a recorded statement about the accident. This is often a trick to get you to share more information than you should. You have no obligation to do this, and it should be avoided until you’ve been able to speak with a lawyer.
4. “Their Name Is…”
Avoid giving your insurance company any names of those involved in your treatment or your life, such as your doctor, friends, or family members. If you do end up going to court, you could get asked to divulge contact information for these people or anything you told them about the accident.
5. “Here’s What I Think Happened”
It’s completely okay to answer a question from the insurance company with “I don’t know.” In fact, it’s best to say you don’t know or aren’t sure about most details of the accident. If you aren’t sure how fast you were driving before the accident, for example, don’t try to estimate or guess. This could hurt your compensation later.
6. “I Accept the Offer”
It’s common for insurance companies to reach out to you soon after the accident and offer a lowball settlement upfront. They hope the stress of medical bills and missing work will encourage you to take the offer, but it’s usually way less than what will cover your damages.
Do not accept any offers from your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company until you’ve spoken to a car accident attorney. A lawyer who understands car accident cases can advocate on your behalf and work towards a settlement that is fair to you.
Why Can’t I Trust Insurance Companies?
Insurance companies are businesses. The last thing they want is to lose money. Never expect to get a fair settlement out of an insurance company unless you negotiate for it. They rarely ever do the right thing, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and simply don’t speak to them about anything related to your accident.
Getting Legal Assistance for Your Georgia Car Accident Case
The bottom line is that insurance companies, unfortunately, cannot be trusted after an auto accident in Georgia, even your own. They are also more likely to approach your claim with more respect if you have retained the services of an experienced car accident lawyer. A lawyer can advise you on what not to say after an accident and how to seek the compensation you deserve.
Talk to Our Car Accident Lawyers Today
At John Foy & Associates, we have developed a strong reputation throughout Georgia over the last 20 years. We are not afraid to stand up to insurance companies and fight for the compensation our clients deserve. That’s why we’ve helped countless car accident victims win their cases at no risk. To schedule a free consultation with the best attorney for you, call us or contact us online today.