Dealing with Insurance Companies after an accident

Accidents are emotionally and often financially draining; dealing with insurance companies on top of the pain and suffering can be both frustrating and confusing.

What to do first

After reporting your accident, a claim will be initiated and the case will be turned over to an insurance adjuster who will handle all necessary aspects of the case. When the insurance adjuster contacts you, get their name, address, and phone number. Be polite and stay calm. You may give your personal information such as your name, address, and phone number. If you are talking to the other person's insurance company, you are not required to give details of your accident. You may inform them to contact your insurance adjuster to get full details of your accident. Do not feel obligated to identify witnesses. Also, keep in mind that most adjusters auto record your responses.

Considering the type of Accident

Insurance companies write their policies in plain language instead of legal jargon. However, that does not make the policies any less complicated. There are many things to consider when making a claim. Does the accident involve property only? Were there injuries that required hospitalization? Is it an auto accident or work injury? Is loss of wages involved? Each of these scenarios involves a different set of legal issues and laws. For instance, if it is an accident at work, worker's compensation laws apply. If the accident occurs on the premises of a business then issues involving negligence may apply.

Keep in mind that when you are involved in an accident, you do not have to resolve the case quickly. Minnesota law generally allows you up to six years from an accident to file suit based upon negligence. There may be situations where the time period is shorter. If you are recovering from injuries, but the insurance company is pressuring you to settle the case that is a warning sign. Do not sign any documents while you are on medication or if you have not had a chance to read them. It is not advisable to settle any claim or case without consulting a lawyer.

Do you need a lawyer?

This is one area of the law where self-help is not a good idea. You should be careful in selecting a personal injury lawyer who can assist you with your case. Be wary of law firms that want half of your recovery, even if they settle your case. Most jurisdictions limit the amount of fees your lawyer can take in worker's compensation cases as well. I have experience of over 17 years in personal injury, have handled over hundreds of cases and have had successful settlements.

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