If you have been injured in a car accident in Chicago you may be entitled to financial compensation. In fact, at Malman Law, we have helped our clients recover more than $250 million in financial compensation over the past 25 years. That is a lot of money; and, while the outcome of a car accident case is never guaranteed, there are some key steps you can take in order to improve your chances of securing just compensation for your injury-related losses.
In addition to taking these steps, there are also some critical mistakes you need to avoid. Not only can these mistakes make it more difficult for you to secure maximum compensation for your losses, but some of them can potentially jeopardize your claim entirely. In order to protect your legal rights, you need to make sound decisions, and this means knowing both what to do and what not to do in the aftermath of a collision.
So, what mistakes do you need to avoid after a car accident in Chicago?
Mistake #10: Posting about the Accident on Social Media
Don’t post pictures from the scene of the accident on Instagram. Don’t write a post describing the accident for your friends and family on Facebook. Don’t tweet about the accident, and don’t post anything about the accident on any other social media platform. In fact, while your car accident claim is pending, it is best that you try to stay off of social media entirely.
Why? When you have an insurance claim, the insurance company will be looking for any possible excuse to deny payment of just compensation. In today’s world, if you post photos or information online, the insurance companies will be watching. They will be closely scrutinizing your social media posts for anything they can use against you, and even posts that seem harmless could potentially end up creating huge problems for your claim.
Mistake #9: Giving a Recorded Statement to Your Insurance Company
In the same vein, when dealing with your insurance company directly, you do not want to provide any more information than is absolutely necessary. As a result, while you should file a claim promptly, you should not give a recorded statement. Remember, when you call your insurance company, the entire conversation is usually being recorded. So, aside from reporting where and when the accident happened, you should not say anything to your adjuster over the phone.
Mistake #8: Failing to Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
However, you do still need to report the accident as soon as possible. Not only will this start the process moving, but it may also be necessary in order to preserve your claim for financial compensation. Standard auto insurance policies require policy holders to report all accidents resulting in vehicle damage; so, even if you are fairly certain that the other driver was at fault, you still need to contact your insurer. Your insurance company will then contact the at-fault driver’s insurer, and the process will proceed from there.
Many people get apprehensive about contact their insurance companies. They worry that they will say something they shouldn’t, and they get concerned that they may get talked into an unfair settlement. If you feel uneasy about calling your insurer, this is absolutely something that our legal team can handle on your behalf. But, once again, time is of the essence, so we encourage you to contact us right away.
Mistake #7: Going to Your Insurance Company’s “Preferred” Repair Shop
Among the tactics the insurance companies use to limit their financial liability is trying to send their policy holders to “preferred” repair shops. Generally speaking, these shops are “preferred” not because they do great work, but because they do a high volume of work at a discounted rate. While your adjuster is not likely to tell you, you should be able to go to a repair shop of your choice – if nothing else it is a good idea to at least get an estimate that you can compare to the one prepared by your insurance company’s preferred service provider.
Mistake #6: Signing a Medical Release to “Verify Your Injuries”
Another tactic the insurance companies use to gather information is to ask accident victims to sign a medical release. However, adjusters often do not refer to this document by name, and you may be told that you need to sign so that the insurance company can “verify your injuries” so that it can make payment on your claim. Do not be fooled. You do not have to sign a medical release, you should not sign a medical release; and, if you do sign one, you will be giving your insurance company access to private, personal health information that you will almost certainly rather keep to yourself.
Mistake #5: Accepting Payment Before You Know the Extent of Your Losses
If the other driver was 100% at fault in the accident, you are entitled to recover full compensation for all of your accident-related losses. This includes current and future losses, and it includes losses that are financial and non-financial in nature.
Before accepting payment from the insurance companies, it is imperative that you know the full value of your claim. If you do not know how much you medical care will cost in the future, and if you do not know how to place a monetary value on your pain and suffering, then there is an extremely high likelihood that you are going to end up settling for less (and perhaps far less) than you deserve. At Malman Law, we work with trusted physicians and other professionals to ensure that we are seeking full value for our clients’ physical, psychological, and financial losses.
Mistake #4: Accepting Payment Without Reading the Fine Print
If you are considering accepting a payment from the insurance companies, you need to make sure you read the fine print. If you do not understand the complex legalese, then ask a lawyer to explain what you are signing. Most likely, when you accept payment, you will be agreeing to waive your right to seek any additional compensation for your injury-related losses. This includes not only filing a claim with the payor, but filing a claim with any other insurance company and even filing a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver.
In other words, when you have an insurance claim, you only get one chance to secure just compensation. If you settle too soon, any losses that are not covered by your settlement will be yours to bear. The losses stemming from a car accident can be substantial; and, to ensure that you are not unnecessarily and unknowingly subjecting yourself to a lifetime of financial strain, it is critically important not to sign anything without the benefit of experienced legal representation.
Mistake #3: Letting the Insurance Companies Dictate the Outcome of Your Claim
If you do not take control of your insurance claim, the insurance companies will take control of it for you. They will dictate the pace of your claim, and they will determine how much compensation you receive for your injuries. None of this is ideal, and putting the outcome of your claim in the hands of the insurance companies is the surest way to receive less than you deserve.
When you have an insurance claim, you need to control the process. You need to keep the pressure on, and you need to fight for the full compensation to which you are entitled under Illinois law. You need to make sure the insurance companies do not take advantage of you, and you need to make informed decisions at every step along the way.
Mistake #2: Not Seeking Medical Attention Right Away
When you get injured in a car accident in Chicago, your first priority should be to obtain medical treatment as soon as possible. The forces involved in car accidents can cause severe traumatic injuries, and the effects of these injuries will not always be readily apparent. By seeking medical treatment promptly, you can obtain an accurate diagnosis that links your injuries to the accident, and you can get started on the road to recovery right away.
Mistake #1: Not Discussing Your Legal Rights with an Attorney
Due to the complexity of car accident insurance claims and the risks involved in making mistakes along the way, it is strongly in your best interests to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. Your attorney will be able to deal with the insurance companies for you; and, if necessary, he or she will be able to take your case to trial in order to win just compensation.
Schedule a Free Car Accident Consultation in Chicago, IL
At Malman Law, we offer free initial consultations to car accident victims in Chicago, and we do not charge any fees or costs unless we win just compensation. To learn more about your rights and get the help you need to win the financial compensation you deserve, call 888-625-6265 or contact us online today.