You’re driving home from a long day at work, and you find yourself stuck in traffic on the highway. You pick up your cell phone to call your child’s daycare to tell them you’re running late. Somewhere between searching for the right number and trying to keep one eye on the road, you hear that unmistakable cruuuuuuuunch. More annoyed and irritated rather than injured, you and the driver you rear-ended make your way to the side of the highway. After taking a deep breath, while reaching for your insurance card in the glove compartment, the other driver angrily gets out of his car, slams the door, walk to your window, and while feverishly tapping on it, screams, “I’m going to sue you for everything you’re worth, I hope you have a good attorney!” You then glance back at your automobile insurance card and think for a moment: if I’m in a car accident, does the insurance company represent me? Or do they represent their own interests?
This is a scene that plays out every day across the country, and, statistically, you and your loved ones may have been involved in identical if not similar situations. But after the initial shock wears off (and you’re okay medically) it’s important to evaluate how to best protect yourself during settlement negotiations and potential litigation.
Your first step is call your insurance company, regardless of whether you think you’re at fault. The agent would rather hear about the accident from you first instead of the other party. From my experience, most car insurance companies will hire and pay for an attorney to represent you in an auto insurance lawsuit, as well as other approved expenses in connection with the lawsuit. Car insurance lawsuit coverage will help you through the process of being sued after a car accident, but you must be ready to work with your appointed attorney. Since the company and your interests are basically the same, paying the least that they can to settle reasonably the case is representing your best interest.
The attorney hired for you by your insurance company has the same ethical duties all attorneys have, which is to ethically and zealously represent his/her client. Your lawyer may have been hired by the insurance company, but they do not represent the insurance company: they represent you. While most people are not fans of insurance companies, the vast majority of insurance-hired defense attorneys are hardworking and genuinely care about their client’s outcome and put the client’s concerns first. They too have great incentives to resolve these cases quickly and efficiently. As long as you work with this lawyer, you should rely on them to handle any matter surrounding the car accident. Do not attempt to do anything to resolve the case on your own.
It’s important to make copies of any legal documents you receive and forward them by certified mail to the contact person your insurance company designates as your attorney. Keep a copy for yourself. In most court papers, there is a specified time to reply, and missing a deadline can hurt your lawsuit defense. Make sure you include your car insurance policy number as well as the best contact information and phone number you may be reached at, as often the insurance company will need to take a recorded verbal statement from you.
Conversely, if an attorney from the other party in the car accident lawsuit should contact you, remember this: say nothing and refer them to your insurance company or your provided auto insurance lawsuit lawyer. This is important. Even before you receive any legal papers be careful of making any statements to the other party or his/her attorney. Always talk with your insurance company first. All correspondence and requests you receive from anyone should be forwarded and answered only by your legal representation.
The team at our firm would be happy to answer any additional questions you might have. Please don’t hesitate to call 214-678-9111.