After being involved in an auto accident, you'll likely receive an offer from an insurance company to cover your damages and medical expenses. This offer may or may not be fair, sometimes only partially compensating you.
Why do insurance companies do this? And do you have any alternative options?
How to Manage the Aftermath of an Auto Accident
If you want to improve outcomes after an auto accident, it's important to manage the aftermath of your effectively. These are some of the most important steps to take:
· Get medical attention. Immediately after the accident, seek medical attention even if you don't feel you need it. This way, you can discover the full extent of your injuries and begin getting treated for those injuries. Additionally, it's important to attend all your follow-up appointments and follow all medical advice you receive.
· Collect (and keep) detailed records. Collect and keep detailed records on the accident and everything that happens after it. At the scene of the accident, you should take photos and videos of all the damage you see and collect full information on the other parties involved. You also need to keep thorough records of your auto repairs, medical bills, lost income, and other expenses. The more information and evidence you have on your side, the better.
· Hire a lawyer. Working with an auto accident lawyer
is your best strategic move. The lawyer will help you understand the full impact of the accident you were in and how much compensation you can expect. Your lawyer will also negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and, if necessary, lead you in a court case to fight for more. Even if your insurance company gives you a low initial offer, a lawyer can help you get what you truly deserve.
Why Insurance Companies Don't Always Offer Fair Payouts
So why don't insurance companies offer fair payouts to victims of auto accidents?
· Insurance companies are profit motivated.
Insurance companies don’t always have huge margins
, but they almost always operate with a profit motive. It's important to understand that insurance companies aren't deliberately trying to make your life worse, nor are they evil. They simply want to keep making money. They aren't going to make any money if they pay egregious sums of money to everyone with a claim. Low offers are a way of minimizing losses so the company can continue to exist and provide insurance coverage to other people.
· Delays are financial beneficial for insurance companies. Sometimes, a low offer is simply a delay tactic. The company wants to postpone making a payment for as long as possible. Delays are typically financially beneficial for insurance companies, allowing them to maximize cash flow while gradually allowing some people to drop out of cases.
· Blame and accountability are easy to diffuse. It's also important to note that because insurance companies tend to be huge, bureaucratic behemoths, it's easy to diffuse blame and accountability. If you call the insurance company, you'll probably talk to an insurance representative near the bottom of the corporate ladder. This person doesn't have any control over your policy or how much of an offer the insurance company is making you, making it incredibly difficult to negotiate on your own. You also aren't in a position to confront this person about your disappointment, since the representative has no direct control over the situation. This is another reason why it's so important to work with a lawyer, who can represent you and talk to the people who can make a difference.
· Valuation and estimate discrepancies are common. It's also common to find valuation and discrepancies. You may have proof that your medical bills were several thousand dollars, but if the insurance company believes that you should have only spent a few hundred dollars, they may fight you on this point. There's certainly room for subjective interpretation with many of these expenses, but insurance companies sometimes take extra liberties in an effort to minimize the potential payout.
· Nobody wants to go to court. Court costs are steep
and court proceedings are long, stale, and exhausting. The truth is, nobody wants to go to court. Insurance companies try to use this to their advantage, hoping that most people will simply accept their offers at face value rather than fighting for more in a legal environment.
· Most people don’t hire lawyers. Most people want this situation to be over as quickly as possible, so they never hire a lawyer – and never discover how much they’re being shortchanged.
Insurance companies aren’t evil or malicious, but they do consistently offer small, minimized payments to victims of auto accidents. If you want more appropriate compensation, it’s in your best interest to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.