This article is in partnership with Smiths Lawyers.
If you are involved in a car accident, you may know that there are specific steps to follow. You know how to assess the situation, contact the police and exchange details with the third party. You are probably also aware of contacting your insurance company.
Although insurance companies are responsible for paying claims if you have an accident, there are times when what you choose to say will negatively impact your claim. We’ll cover six statements you should avoid making to your insurance company after an accident:
1. “It’s my fault.”
Even if you consider yourself a bad driver, never admit your guilt. Even if you feel the need to apologize to the third party, the police or your insurance company, don’t. It is not your responsibility to speculate on guilt, merely to report for a claim. Also, do not provide details that are not requested.
If you wish to bring a dispute, you can do so with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Court (QCAT). When the amount of damages is less than $1,500, it will be directed to mediation, but if it is more than that amount but less than $25,000, it will be treated as a minor civil proceeding.
2. “No, I’m fine.”
When questions about your injuries are asked, be as candid as possible about any pain or abrasions. It is recommended that you consult a medical professional for a complete physical assessment.
Often we feel fine physically, but we may suffer from head trauma or internal bleeding, which can be fatal. It is imperative to ensure from the outset that you have been assessed and that your insurance company knows the exact extent of your condition and injuries.
Misrepresenting your injuries can be detrimental, so only make a statement about your physical well-being after it has been confirmed by a professional.
3. “I don’t have a lawyer.”
If you stipulate that you have no legal representation, it can open you up to manipulation. Try to avoid mentioning it at the start of a complaint. If you have a legal representative, be sure to include them in the process and meetings.
It may not be necessary to have legal representation when making claims, but it is recommended. Hiring legal advisers like Smiths Lawyers, for example, could be the difference between winning and losing a case.
4. “I accept this offer.”
Most insurance companies offer the cheapest settlement first. Knowing the extent of damage to your vehicle is essential. A dealership or compensation attorney will provide insight into a fair and reasonable settlement value.
So, avoid accepting offers quickly and try, if possible, to negotiate or ask your lawyer to do so on your behalf.
5. “These are all recorded statements”
For their benefit, the insurance company will review and assess all registration statements, including police reports, photographs, medical examinations and vehicle damage assessments. You are not required to file a recorded statement in any format and do so only on the advice of your attorney.
6. “I think…in my opinion”
It is imperative to stick to the facts, even if it means that you are missing a few points in your case. Stating what you know is better than speculation or fluff. If you’re asked about something you don’t know, ask to bypass that question and let it be known that you don’t know.
As mentioned earlier, any evidence you produce may become part of your case, and intentionally admitting fault or negligence may cause a claim to fail.
7. “This is X personal information”
If you want to avoid the third party receiving endless negotiation calls from your insurance company, it is best to provide a limited amount of information about them. Your insurance company does not need information about other parties you know. Sometimes insurance companies may contact employers to verify your recovery, and if it appears less serious than claimed, settlements may be reduced.
In car accident claims, be as honest and direct as possible, without making the mistakes above. After reporting your accident to the police, you should receive a medical evaluation to determine any damage and its extent.
Once you have completed this appraisal and received an asset damage assessment to your vehicle, approach your insurance company so you can begin the claims process.
They need to know that they will receive a claim.
If you are unhappy with the outcome and wish to dispute it, it is best to exhaust all internal remedies available from your insurance company before seeking alternative solutions. If this remains unsuccessful, you can raise a dispute with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Court.