The motorcycle accident lawyers at Kass & Moses receive phone calls regularly from victims of motorcycle accidents who attempted to negotiate with an insurance company on their own, only to find out the cold hard truth – insurance companies are not on your side.
Unfortunately, by the time some of these clients get to us, they’ve been pressured to provide a recorded statement or to settle for a nominal amount.
In short, your insurance adjuster’s goal is simple – to pay you as little for your injuries and damages as possible. That’s why we strongly recommend talking to a motorcycle accident lawyer before you ever speak to an insurance company.
Here is a list of the top things you should consider when dealing with an insurance company:
- Do not give a recorded statement/written statement to the insurance company without talking to a lawyer first. The insurance adjuster will tell you he/she is just doing an investigation. The reality is, they are trying to get you “on the record” so that if the case goes to litigation later, they will have multiple statements from you that they can use to contradict/call into question your credibility.
- Never admit anything: what you say to an insurance adjuster may be used against you later. If you admit you drove above the speed limit, they will use it. If you say you’re “feeling ok”, they will use it. In short, watch what you say to any insurance company.
- Don’t sign a medical release: the insurance company wants your permission to look at your medical records. You can provide relevant medical records at your discretion later. But do not give them a license to look into your medical history. They will argue that you had a pre-existing condition to avoid paying for your injuries.
- Beware of low-ball first-offers: we have handled cases where an insurance company will make a nominal low-ball first offer only to settle for a much larger amount later. Beware of first-offers. The insurance company is attempting to establish the base-line from which you negotiate.
- Watch out for arbitrary assignment of fault: often in comparative negligence states (where you can be partially responsible for the accident yet still recover) such as California, an insurance adjuster will try to assign a percentage of the blame for an accident on the motorcyclist. It’s part of the insurance industry’s inherent bias against bikers. Don’t fall for it!
- Don’t rush into a settlement: we were recently contacted by a young woman who was involved in an accident and in one of her first telephone conversations with the insurance adjuster, entered into a verbal, binding settlement agreement with the adjuster to accept a nominal settlement. If she had waited, she could have recovered much more.
- Dealing with your own insurance company could become adversarial: if you attempt to make a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist protection (which everyone should have), the insurance company–insured relationship automatically becomes adversarial. As such, you should be weary of what you say to even your own insurance company.
The motorcycle accident lawyers at Kass & Moses strongly recommend that you talk to an attorney immediately after an accident and before you talk to an insurance company. For a free consultation, contact Kass & Moses.