No one wants to sue another person, especially when your injuries were caused by an accident – it’s not as if the at-fault person intended to harm you. However, you should understand that who you are really suing is the other person’s insurance company. In exchange for their premiums, the insurance company agrees to compensate accident victims and pay for any property damage that insured person may cause. In addition, the insurance company agrees to provide a legal defense if they are sued.
It is important to understand this relationship between the at-fault party and the insurer because the insurance company’s primary focus is to reduce the amount of the claims it has to pay. As a result, you should assume that they do not have your best interests at heart. Instead, they are likely to employ one of the tactics we describe below.
Shortly after the accident, you may be contacted by a representative from the at-fault party’s insurance company. They will ask you a lot of questions and may seem very concerned about your injuries or any pain that you are feeling. After your initial interview, they may offer you a small settlement to address your injuries. As part of this settlement, be aware that they will require you to release them from any and all claims, now and in the future. In other words, you won’t be able to make a claim against them if your injuries linger or manifest themselves later. You also won’t be able to seek additional compensation if the settlement doesn’t cover all of your medical bills.
Denial of Liability
If they can’t settle the case, the insurance company may then claim that their insured party was not at fault in the accident. They may do this is a couple of ways. They may argue that their insured party wasn’t negligent. Alternatively, they might also claim that their insured party did not cause the accident or cause your injuries.
The insurance company may not be able to deny liability. However, they may try to argue that your negligence was also a factor and should prohibit you from recovering. This is called the “contributory negligence” defense. They might also try to argue that you assumed the risk (such as in a premises liability case), and therefore should not be entitled to compensation. It’s important to understand both of these potential defenses and how they work, as they may prohibit you from any compensation whatsoever.
What Do I Do?
The most important thing is to understand that you are not obligated to talk to the at-fault person’s insurance company. If you do, make sure that limit yourself only to things like the date, time, and location that the accident occurred.
The next thing you should do is seek medical treatment, even if you don’t think you’re injured. Some injuries may not manifest themselves right away, and so it’s important to get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Finally, we recommend that you seek legal representation. Not only can a lawyer give you legal advice, he or she can talk to the insurance companies and all of the other parties involved to make sure your interests are protected.
Contact an Atlanta Area Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s important to know your options and understand your rights. The lawyers at Slappey & Sadd can help evaluate your case and determine how to proceed. If you’d like a free consultation, email us or call 404-255-6677 today!