What to do when insurance adjusters and lawyers are calling you nonstop following a crash?
Our own auto accident attorneys get this question all the time. People get hurt in car accidents and then they have insurance adjusters and, sadly, many personal injury lawyers calling them nonstop. What should they do?
Today I’d like to start by explaining what not to do. And that starts with what not to say.
1. “You’re hired.”
Michigan has a serious problem with ambulance chasing lawyers. There are many unethical injury attorneys who aggressively solicit car accident victims by looking up their police reports online and them calling them, sending them mail and sending agents to sometimes even ring door bells and visit hospital rooms.
This is horrible. These attorneys are preying on people, and they’re giving the entire legal profession a black eye. They’re also breaking the law. I’ve been outspoken that we need to do more to stop these attorneys. You can read what I’ve said here and here.
My own advice is never hire an ambulance chaser. Hiring a lawyer should be only after you’ve done research on who is the most experienced, qualified and compassionate to help you through this difficult time. Here’s a checklist you can use to help you find the right attorney after a car crash.
2. “Here’s my statement.”
Car accident victims will have insurance adjusters calling them. And if they were seriously injured or if there was a fatality, sometimes the at-fault driver’s attorneys or investigators will be calling, too. They are not doing this with your best interests in mind.
In general, you should never give a statement — recorded, or otherwise — to anyone from the at-fault driver’s insurance company or driver without contacting an experienced injury attorney first to protect your legal rights.
Often, examinations under oath (EUOs) are used by experienced defense lawyers to take advantage of an injured person who does not have a lawyer. In this situation, questions are asked and topics explored that have no importance or relevance to the claimed areas of investigation. The only true reason for the interviews is to lessen later exposure in a tort lawsuit. EUOs are used by your own No Fault insurance company lawyer, but because EUOs are recorded and under oath, they can be used against you in your car accident lawsuit and obtained by the lawyers and insurance company for the tort (personal injury) lawsuit.
3. “I’ll settle.”
Unfortunately, you also have to beware of your own auto insurance company. Auto insurance companies, whether your own or the at-fault driver’s, will often try and settle cases for pennies on the dollar. They make you think you’re getting a fair deal by presenting a low-ball check for your injuries and No Fault benefits, but all the while increasing their bottom lines.
For instance, Dairyland Insurance Company had the audacity to send a legal release to its own injured customers that extinguishes all of their legal rights and No Fault medical claims SEVEN days after a car accident. And more recently, this terrible check cashing scam by Michigan auto insurance companies.
If you do not have an attorney, it never hurts to call a reputable lawyer and ask any questions on your mind. In my own field of personal injury law, attorneys will not charge for answering questions and discussing your concerns during an initial consultation (at least I don’t know of any lawyers that do this, but as I’ve learned with the ambulance chasing, it no longer surprises me what some Michigan lawyers are doing these days).
And a simple phone call can save you a lot of time, heartache, money – and preserve all of your legal rights.
Also remember to keep your attorney in the loop with any concerns you have, any happenings in your case or changes in your life, like moving or a change in job status. An attorney can only help you get the most fair settlement and full benefits if he or she is fully aware of your concerns and updates.