While it is certainly possible to handle a claim or injury case yourself, it is rarely a good idea. Insurance companies have adjusters on staff who seek to pay you nothing or as little as possible. Insurance companies may use tricks to get you to settle for less, such as:
Getting you to settle early
Giving you their “top offer”
Telling you that you’re partially at fault for the accident, despite the facts
Making you sign unlimited medical authorizations
Put simply, insurance companies know that you aren’t an expert in legal proceedings. They will do their best to undermine your claim and reduce what you are owed. Personal injury attorneys at Muchnick Haber Margolis are fully prepared to weave around the barriers insurance providers put up to get you the compensation you rightfully deserve.
If any entity other than your immediate medical provider asks you to sign a document or release, you should immediately contact your attorney to review the document. In personal injury cases, insurance companies may ask you to sign releases or medical authorizations that release any claim you may have on those responsible for your injury. These documents may also bar you from additional recovery from future complications or allow insurance companies to request medical records unrelated to your injury to use in their defense. As a general rule, always ask your attorney before signing any document related to your case.
You should never talk to the other driver’s insurance company without your attorney present. Insurance companies seek recorded statements that can damage your case down the line. Waiting until your attorney is present protects your interests.
Statutes of limitations vary depending on the state and the type of case. In Missouri, negligence cases can be filed up to five years after the accident. Medical negligence/malpractice must be filed within two years, and a wrongful death case must be filed within three years following the date of death.
*Note: All cases are different and this answer is meant as general information. Please consult with one of our attorneys for specific information about the filing details of your case.
Required information varies by case, but you should generally obtain as much information as possible. In the case of a car accident, you should obtain the driver’s name, contact information and, more importantly, the name of the insurance company and policy number. It may also be helpful to obtain information from witnesses of the accident.
Photos are always helpful in the event of an accident. We recommend that you document as much as possible at the scene such as debris, skid marks and identifying marks on dangerous products.
If you are involved in a car accident, it is important to contact the local police as soon as possible. A police officer will usually create a police report and perform an initial investigation. The police will often take witness statements of the other driver and any witnesses. The police can be valuable witnesses to your injury at the scene, and they can obtain admissions of fault from the negligent driver. If the accident is a minor accident, it is still important to contact the police and not rely on exchanging information with the other driver.
We recommend that you contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney will prevent you from making mistakes that will hurt your interests.
After an accident, we always recommend getting checked by a medical professional immediately. Discomfort and other symptoms may develop hours or days after an accident. Insurance companies may argue that if you do not seek medical treatment, you couldn’t have been injured. More importantly, a preliminary diagnosis may ease your discomfort and help future treatment you may need.
If you decide to seek medical care, be sure to report all complaints or irregularities that you notice. Providing all information will allow your doctors and other providers to give you appropriate care and an adequate diagnosis. This will also aid a personal injury case to have everything documented with a medical professional.
If you choose to contact your insurance company, you should do so after contacting an attorney. While many insurance policies require insureds to report information and cooperate after an accident, there are important issues that may arise which require the advice of counsel. Every case is different and a qualified attorney will advise you about the issues that may arise when you contact your company.
Uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) are claims against your personal auto insurance company. A UM claim is brought when the other driver either has no insurance or when their identity is unknown. UM coverage is mandatory in Missouri and Illinois. A UIM claim is when the responsible party has liability insurance but the policy limits are not enough to cover your damages. You should check your declaration of coverages to determine if you have UIM coverage.
There is no definitive timeline for when you should settle your claim or case. While the choice is yours, we recommend that you wait to settle your claim until your damages can be predicted. Typically, the full extent of the damages cannot be predicted until your injuries are fully known. If your case does not settle, we will take it to trial.